Soccer Star Clint Dempsey On His Hip-Hop Album And Texas Rap
Clint Dempsey fortified himself as an immortal in the world of soccer, after he scored the opening goal for the United States in this year's World Cup after just 29 seconds. His athletic prowess is loved by soccer enthusiasts and hated by his adversaries. For years, he has taken the onus of securing a World Cup for his country. Now, he's working on something bigger. The FIFA 15 cover boy is returning home in hopes of providing a better future for the youth of Texas. This time around, he's flexing his lyrical muscles with poignant raps. By teaming up with DJ Skee, Trae Tha Truth, and his partner XO, Dempsey is dropping his new project entitled, The Redux. With this project, Dempsey—whose rap moniker is Deuce—will use the proceeds to feed the underprivileged children of Texas.
XXL caught up with the soccer star at FIFA 15's release party last week, where he touched on his rap influences, his relationship with Trae Tha Truth, and why kicking raps won't interfere with him getting goals on the field. Let's kick it with Dempsey. —Carl Lamarre
XXL: Clint Dempsey, tell us why we're here, sir.
Clint Dempsey: We're here to launch the new FIFA 15 game. I was lucky enough to be on the cover, so I'm happy and excited about that. Also, I'm excited to be here with Trae [Tha Truth]. We're gonna perform one of our tracks from me and my boy XO. We have this project called The Redux that's coming out. Just basically, it's an opportunity for him to show love for Trae, and also an opportunity to give back to the kids. Our proceeds are going to go towards East Texas Food Bank. It gives underprivileged kids opportunities to get three meals a day. So that's what it's all about, man.
When did you get into hip-hop?
I liked rap from a young age, from listening to MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. As I got older, I started getting more into it. I began listening to Tupac, Swishahouse, UGK, Scarface. And then from them, I learned about Big Hawk. And from that, I learned about Trae and stuff like that. So I've always been connected to the music that's in Texas and I wanted to show love to them because they always remind me where I came from. So that's why I have a passion for Texas rap.
As far as preparation is concerned, are there similarities between getting ready to play a game and getting ready to step on stage and perform?
Yeah, because you don't want to do a bad job. You want to perform well. Even though it's not really my level of expertise to be on stage and to be performing in terms of rapping, I'm more of someone whose stage is the field and what I do on the soccer field and stuff like that. But, it's an honor to perform with someone I looked up to like Trae and to be able to do something that I enjoy. Just like fishing is a hobby. And to give back to kids, that's what it's all about.
What would you say is the most underrated part of your skill set? The flow, the bars, the delivery?
I don't know about all that. Man, I'm just still trying to find myself as an artist. I was lucky enough to get some coaching from Trae and things I needed to work on. I like trying to be creative. But, at the same time, I know I have a lot of work to do. But it's something that I enjoy.
Where would you rank yourself among the athletes that rap? Because we've had Shaq, Allen Iverson, Kobe...
Man, I don't really look at it like that. I let everybody worry about all that kind of stuff. It's just something I enjoy and do for fun like going fishing. I love soccer. That's my passion. That's what I make a living doing. But this is something that's fun for me and I let everybody else talk about that. I'm just happy to be able to work with someone like Trae and to show love to Texas rap. To be with a guy like this who's done so much for Texas in terms of not only music but for what he does with the kids in terms of "Trae Day" and reaching out to all those kids, giving them school supplies and giving them an opportunity to have a great day. He really does a lot for the community. So I wanted to showcase that.
Do you feel Texas rap is underrated in this day and age in contrast to an Atlanta, California or New York?
Well, I think it depends on the market that you're in. Everybody is gonna gravitate towards the market that they were raised in I think. But at the same time, there is a lot of talent there. Hopefully, people start to recognize that. But you've seen people come up and guys like Bun B, Scarface, maybe to a lesser extent Chamillionaire, Paul Wall. But to see someone like Trae come in and people are really repping for him, [it's beautiful] because what he says hits you. It's real. That's why I love listening to his music. It reminds me of where I'm from. I guess it all depends on the market you're from and what you're gonna gravitate towards.
Have you recovered from the World Cup? If so, how do you prepare yourself mentally for the next one?
Yeah, I recovered. It's always difficult to just adjust when you get back because it's the highest of highest. You always wanna make sure that you're not burnt out. But I feel like I've been able to find the right balance of still staying fresh in games and still being able to be productive. We're still doing well with the Seattle Sounders. We were able to win the U.S. Open Cup. Now it's about trying to win the Supporters' Shield and trying to push for an MLS Cup. So, hopefully, we can do that.