“Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous/'Cause we want to be them, and they want to be us.” Drizzy spat that line on “Thank Me Now” back in 2010. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, ballers have been rapping from the days of Deion "Primetime" Sanders dropping “Must Be the Money” back in ‘94 to Iman Shumpert dropping his Th3 #Post90s mixtape this past season. However, it wasn’t until earlier this month when Jay Harris a.k.a. Jay DatBull decided to forgo a scholarship to pursue his music career that athletes rapping has caused so much controversy.
The high school wideout ranked as the No. 17 high school player in the state of Pennsylvania on ESPN's Recruiting Nation, skipped out on a free ride to Michigan State so that he could rap and make videos like the now infamous, “DatBull 4 Life.” The video which features Jay DatBull spitting bars, blowing weed smoke, and rocking with his crew, SquadThaCamp, has amassed nearly 800,000 pageviews in less than a month. With his debut mixtape, Camp Life, dropping on June 1, we spoke with Harris about his plans for the future, why he made his decision, and who his influences are.
Interview by Ralph Warner (@SoloWarnerBro)
How have the past two weeks been for you since this story went national?
These past two weeks have been crazy. It's kinda like I've changed and everywhere I go people know who I am. People are just waiting for my mixtape, you know? There's a lot of hate but I mean at the end of the day I got a good enough fanbase throughout these two weeks, so it's been fun.
When did you start rapping?
I've been rapping since probably like, middle school. But I seriously started rapping in high school and obviously when I dropped that music video recently. That's when I decided that I'm going all out with it.
And how long have you been playing football?
Since I was about eight.
I like football as a game but when you're at Division I level, it's all business. They really don't care about other factors, it's business. Football is just a game to me.
There's different reports that came out saying Michigan State was going to revoke your scholarship because of the video and then there's reports that were saying it was a mutual agreement. Can you tell us in detail how that whole process went down?
They never ever once called me and talked to me about the video. We never had a conversation about the video. I think they heard a little buzz that I might not go to school or whatever, so I called them one day and they were like "we heard you were having a change of plans" and I was like "yeah, I'm focusing on my rap." All the coach said was, "well, I wish we could've had you and if not then I wish you the best of luck" and that's the last time I talked to him. He never even mentioned the video.
What was your parents' initial reaction when you told them you would rather pursue a rap career than go to college?
They were surprised, they were shocked at first. I never really shared my music with them, so they just thought it was me not wanting to go to college or something, or that I was scared. But then I showed them my music and I showed them how serious I was and my dad, he just one hundred percent was like, "I wish I would've seen you play football, I wanna see you in college, but if this is what you want to do then you're still my son and I still love you. I'll support you at the end of the day." So, I mean, no matter what I choose to do my dad's still gonna be there 100 percent.
Have they seen the video that's caused all this controversy?
What's their reaction to blunt smoking, rapping about poppin' mollies, sex, etc.?
Yeah, it's like I was saying, they were kinda shocked but they're like, "if you got a talent just run with it. If this is what makes you happy, run with it. Just make sure you don't go overboard with any other crazy drugs but if it's just smoking weed, then run with it."
Would you say you're a better rapper then a football player?
I couldn't really say, I guess it's up to the critics to say that. But either way, rapping makes me happier than football.
Would you say you've lost interest in playing football? Or that you genuinely like rapping more at this point? Was it a combination of both?
Yeah, it's a combination of both. I like football as a game but when you're at Division I level, it's all business. They really don't care about other factors, it's business. Football is just a game to me. It's not a business, it's not gonna be my life. I still love the game of football, I still love watching it but that's not what I want do for a career. That's not how I want my life to be just solely 100 percent football.