From Deion Sanders to Shaquille O’Neal, professional athletes have historically tried their hand at the full recording artist route with varied results. Some professional ballers like former Cleveland Cavalier Daniel Gibson have even quit outright to pursue music.
Then there are more extreme circumstances like Le’Veon Bell, who recently dropped his “Shrimp Bayless” diss track aimed at Undisputed host Skip Bayless.
Someone who appreciated the diss record is former Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders wide receiver-turned-R&B crooner Nathan Palmer a.k.a. Napalm.
“I feel good about it because I feel like athletes aren’t scared to talk now,” Napalm told HipHopDX. “Before, we would be scared to talk to the media and say anything because of how they would respond to us and they could kill our careers. I feel like that’s a dope way to do it. Put it in the music. Everybody knows the greatest stuff comes out of diss tracks. Some of the greatest artists, some of the greatest people have come out with diss tracks. I think that’s actually dope. In a way, I probably wouldn’t have gone at Skip Bayless because I mess with Skip Bayless, but I think it’s pretty dope that he did it that way. Le’Veon got bars low key. He’s one of those people who are kind of changing the tide for athletes doing music.”
After outright leaving the league for music, Napalm totally understands the risk and criticism that comes with making such a bold decision.
“Of course, when you talk to everybody, they were like, ‘Don’t pass this up because you’re giving up one dream job for chasing another dream job,’” he said. “’You’re being greedy.’ For me, it was never like that. I played football and I love it. I loved everything about it. The NFL taught me so much, but music came before all of that. For me, it was a no-brainer. It’s only going to seem stupid and weird if it don’t work. And for me, it’s going to work.”
Further in the conversation, the Indiana native mentioned growing up as a musician before football. So far, it’s already worked out as Napalm counts former NFL peers including Colin Kaepernick and Peyton Manning fans.
“I grew up a musician,” he explained. “I was a church kid and I played the drums, keys and a little bass guitar. I grew up a musician. I think a lot of people and athletes jump into it because it’s a hobby and people got money to do it. I feel like the difference between them and me is that I’m a writer and musician. I really love this stuff. I really love this shit. I think that’s the biggest difference. I always kind of fight that because a lot of people do get that and I think I add a little bit of shock value with my music. I think I’ll let the music speak for itself.”
This includes the release of tracks including “Backwoods,” a song inspired by the cigars and featuring Top Flite Empire late last year.
“Shout out to Backwoods who hit me up,” he said. “They heard the music and hit me up. I really wore the hat so much and the song came from me wearing the hat. Then, it evolved into something else.”
Expect Napalm to drop his debut EP February 24 in the form of The Winter Vibes EP. According to him, the project is based off of personal experiences and is a way for him to vent.
“Winter Vibes is that story you tell during cuffing season, but you’re all alone,” he explained. “That’s what Winter Vibes is for me. It really highlights life imitating art or art imitating life. For me, it really was my whole situation at the time. I was going through a breakup and bad relationship, but I wanted to tell the story from front to back. Winter Vibes is basically, as fellas we’re cool during the summer and we poppin maybe even in the fall, but when winter time comes around, that’s not a good feeling.”