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Words Tzvi Twersky

Editor’s Note: This is the full interview of the story that originally appeared in the August/September 2014 issue of XXL Magazine.

No matter if he’s playing in Philadelphia, where he spent the first six seasons of his NFL career, or Washington, D.C., where he signed after a tumultuous, Googleable off-season, Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson brings game-breaking talents with him. The diminutive 27-year-old Los Angeles native also totes Cali swag, a vast knowledge of hip-hop and a record label. Ching, ching. —Tzvi Twersky

Do you spend most of your off-season on the west coast or are you all about the east coast now?
When the season was first over, I spent two months in Cali. Once off-season workouts started, I was back in Washington. I was there for, like, the past three months. Now we’re off for the next month, so I’m back in Cali.

I know you’re quick to get into the local music scene, so are you already into that DC music?
You know, me and Wale always been cool. Otherwise, as far as hip-hop and R&B it’s the same stuff. But me and Wale, we’re real cool. We have a good relationship, so that’s different.

You spend so much time on the east coast, I have to wonder: you starting to like east coast music as much as west coast?
Well, I think it’s different. You have different artists. I’m into a couple of them—Fabolous, A$AP Ferg, Wale, Meek Mill, Chief Keef.

What did you grow up listening to?
I grew up really listening to Snoop [Dogg], Tupac, that whole era.

At which age did you start rapping, if only just for your friends?
Probably around high school. When I was younger, I was terrible. I couldn’t rhyme, I couldn’t flow, none of that. The more and more I practiced—like anything you do—the better I got. And around college, I started it serious. When I got to the League, I started my own record label, Jaccpot Records.

When you were in college at Cal and when you were on the Eagles, did you ever spit for your teammates?
(Laughs) I messed around a little, let them hear stuff. They respected it—I’m pretty talented—and a lot of guys were like, You hard.

If football is your first love, is music your second love?
Yeah. I think music is just like a hobby. It lets me get away, vent, put the pen to the pad, just really get away from the football world. It gets stressful at times, so music is my getaway.

You write to get away, but what do you listen to to get away?
I’m a big fan of Pac. He’s a big-time influence on my life, as far as the lyrics and what he was on. There’s Pac, 50 Cent, The Game, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, TI, Fabolous, those are my favorites.

You recorded a song with Snoop last year. What’s it like working with someone you grew up listening to and admiring?
Yeah, it was a blessing. I was fortunate enough to go the same high school, just different eras. We have a real good relationship. I call him “Unc Snoop,” and we been knowing each other for 18 years. He’s always been supportive of me playing ball, and our relationship is good. He works hard, and I respect it.

Does he have any advice for you as far as dealing with fame and infamy?
The biggest thing he says is work hard and do what you love to do, passionately. Really give it your all. His advice is basically, Do what you love to do and do it to your full potential.

How did your label come to be called Jaccpot Records?
(Laughs) Actually, my nickname is “Jaccpot.” When I was in high school, they were always like, He’s about to hit the jackpot! My having a lot of money, getting a lot of money, the whole era of working hard to get what you want. They were like, We know you’re going to hit the jackpot so we’re going to call you Jaccpot. I was like, That’s a cool name for a record label to be, too.

Why did you decide you wanted a label in the first place and when did you start it?
I started it back in 2009, 2010. The reason why I wanted it, pretty much, was to help out some of my boys who I grew up with who weren’t fortunate to make it in sports and things but still had the talent to rap. I’m very passionate myself with music, so I was trying to start something up and be one of the first athletes with a successful record label. It’s a lot of hard work, and I’m just working with producers and big-time artists and taking it one day at a time. It’s made me respect the music game more.

Another dude you’re associated with is Lil Terio. How did that relationship come to be?
Actually, his manger is one of my friends. He came around, brought him to Philly. The little dude is funny. He’s always laughing and joking around. I’m trying to keep him working out and trying to keep him positive.

You were one of the first dudes to do the Terio as a touchdown dance.

Have any dances planned for this coming season?
Man, you know, I’m just gonna go out there and do what comes to mind. I don’t really try to plan too much. I just go out, have fun and play the game. I’m looking forward to going out, have a blessed season, staying healthy and hopefully we can win the Super Bowl.

I talked to Lesean McCoy and he said you were the best dancer in Philly. Think that’s true?
Coming from L.A., I got that swag, so it might be true.

How you feeling in that new jersey? Colors look right on you?
It looks sweet, man. Honestly, I’m just blessed to have a second opportunity to play at the highest level. What I went through was definitely a humbling experience, at the same time it motivated me more. I can’t wait to the season. Let’s fire it up.

Who controls the music in the locker room out there? I know you just got there.
Ah, man, we all like the same stuff pretty much—hip-hop. So there’s no real control; we’re all out there, working.

I hear that. You ever throw any Jaccpot records on the speakers?
Yeah, I did the other day. They were actually vibing to it. The more and more I be here, I’ll let them hear a little more stuff.

You move around a lot during the season, so how do you stay up on music?
The internet, bro. Nowadays, all the artists keep it active, throw music up, stay on the hottest shit.

As far as your own music career, you gonna keep grinding with it?
Yeah. I know it’s a process, and it’s not gonna happen over night, but you’ll continue to hear more projects from Jaccpot and myself. Look forward to it down the road, but you know football comes first.

Do you separate the two, like, the fall and winter are football and the spring and summer are more hip-hop?
Yeah, I actually have someone who runs my record label while I focus on football.

West coast is famous for its rap groups. We had NWA and now we have Black Hippy. I feel like you, RG3 and Alfred Morris  have your own little Black Hippy of football going on in DC.
(Laughs) Hopefully we do. We’ve been through a lot so far in the league, and it’s a good group to have together, and we’re going to go out there and do our best, hopefully win.

You feel like you and RG3 are going to have an ill connection?
Yeah, man, so far we’re on the same page. We’re working hard and trying to get our timing down and stuff like that. It’s still early on, but we got a lot to look forward to.

If you had to give your upcoming season a title, like an album, what would you go with? Something like *Redemption* or *2.0*?
Man, you know, every time I step on the field I feel like it’s all eyes on me. After what’s happened the past couple months, I’m still in the NFC East and still be able to compete, against the Eagles and all these other teams, I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help my team to win. So call it what you want to call. That’s your quote; my quote is I just want to win.

Feel you. You extra hungry this year?
Oh, yeah. Definitely. I’m always hungry, but this year’s got a little bit of an edge to it. I’m ready to turn up, bro.