VOICES OF BOSTON: James Develin
The relationship between Sports and Music is one that's been integral to pop culture. From Shaquille O'Neal turning heads with his debut album "Shaq Diesel", featuring the late legend Phife Dawg, to memes of Russell Westbrook enjoying a light turn up to the latest rap hits before games to get in the zone - the parallels between both industries are undeniable. To explore this connection further, We reached out to the New England Patriots 4 Time Super Bowl Champion Fullback James Develin, to discuss the impact of music on his personal life and monumental career.
What is your earliest musical memory? Whether it be an artist, song, live experience, etc. My Dad has always played guitar, so he was really my first introduction to music. He’s in two bands currently and has been in other ones throughout my life. Pretty much all classic rock, mainly southern rock: Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, CCR, a little bit of Steely Dan, etc. So, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for classic rock. He taught me so much about music, very nonchalantly, as I was young. Shit that I never thought was that important then. Now they’ll show up from time to time and it makes me appreciate it that much more. Was there much of a music scene in your hometown of Gilbertsville, PA? No, there wasn’t a huge music scene in my hometown. Gilbertsville is a pretty rural suburb of Philadelphia, so not a ton of action going on there. But, that’s not to say we weren’t hugely influenced by music in those days. IMO, my generation grew up in a great time for music. At a time, with the introduction of the internet, when music was being digitalized and became hugely available to everyone, we went from cassette tapes to CDs to mp3s - thank you Napster and Limewire - to now streaming music. So as for me, I grew up with classic rock and started really liking 90/2000s East Coast Hip - Hop and always will. I also loved Punk Rock during that adolescent stage, and have matured into RnB and Reggae. I have a very eclectic taste in music and I attribute it to growing up at a time where music was readily available at my fingertips whenever a certain mood hit. I have a music library in my car from my high school and college years and I always say I can find a song in there for just about anybody who rides with me. Except if they want Country - don’t have too much of that. Have you ever had the desire to explore music, even at the most basic level of playing an instrument? When I was a kid I played the trumpet and loved it. I thought I was Louie Armstrong on that thing, but then football season came around it went in its case and just collected dust. Since then I’ve tried to learn the guitar, like my Dad, but lacked the patience or finger dexterity to stick with it. Recently I’ve really grown to appreciate certain hip hop producers, and how meticulously they master their craft to make beats. So, I downloaded an MPC on my iPad and went at it for a few weeks. Again, my patience got to me and I gave up having made absolutely 0 beats. I have so much respect for musicians, of any kind, and their discipline and mastery of their art.
So, when you were first starting your professional football career, you had the experience of playing for different teams in other leagues as well like the AFL. That must’ve been a trying period for you. What resources did you utilize (external or internally) to push through and was music a part of that? That was definitely a trying time for me. A lot of nut cutting and gut checks. Really, I just relied on a staunch self-belief and hard work. Music was a huge part of that. Whether it was the typical motivational workout type stuff or stuff that helped me thru the low times. For example, anytime I hear a song from either Man on the Moon by Kid Cudi or Graduation by Kanye it takes me back to the end of my senior year in college when I had just about zero NFL prospects in front of me at the time and I was struggling with that fact. Who was on your playlist before the Super Bowl Championship win earlier this month? My pregame playlist is a little bit of a mash-up between 90s Hip-Hop (Mobb Deep, Boot Camp Clik, Wu-Tang Clan, etc.) and some real hateful screamer type music (Hatebreed, Unearth, Slipknot). I just need something fast and hard to put me in the mood to run through people. Lebron recently announced that he would be A&R’ing or developing the “musical aesthetic” for 2 Chainz. How do you feel about the idea of athlete entrepreneurship extending into the music business? If it sounds cool, Will you be launching Develin records anytime soon? Theres definitely mutual respect and admiration between athletes and musicians. So it’s a great way to use each other’s platforms to express creativity. I think it’s really awesome that people from different backgrounds and lines of work can agree and work together to make music for the masses. While I have a lot of interest in music, I’m just in it for listening at this point. Like I said before, I have the utmost respect for musicians and producers for their artful genius but I’ll stay out of the music world. However, a lot of friends I’ve made through football have gotten into music to certain degrees. Sony Michel produces music in his free time, some real legit stuff too. Another guy I played with in Cincy, and the guy who taught me the fullback position, Chris Pressley, manages some acts down in Florida on the side. Have any Boston artists caught your ear lately? Through the IV Boston connection, I’ve gotten onto Cousin Stizz and Millyz. Both young up and comers in the Hip Hop world that are doing it the right way in my eyes.
James Develin was also gracious to curate a playlist for our readers to bump. Check it out here - https://open.spotify.com/user/f3djd3pghglli38ax3q5m8de0/playlist/2c9b3XQ9XjsCOgMGFqX1cX?si=NuA8vzk2TsGcTIb6kpOlFg
This Is For Boston.