The intermix of professional football and hip-hop isn't particularly new, with players regularly incorporating hip-hop dances into end zone touchdown celebrations and even rapping themselves (shoutout to Prime Time!). Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant won't be dropping a mixtape of his own anytime soon, but the talented baller is a longtime rap fan.

In a season where the 5-foot, 7-inch, 169-pound Grant won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors thanks to a 102-yard kick return touchdown against the Tennessee Titans, Grant is starting to make noise. He followed that up with two receiving touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders, and a punt return TD against the Cincinnati Bengals. Between those touchdowns and game prep, the Dallas native listens to all sorts of hip-hop, from Tupac to Lil Boosie to YoungBoy Never Broke Again. Unfortunately, nagging issues with his Achilles tendon ended his season prematurely, but he'll be back on the field next season, better than ever.

Jakeem Grant dialed up XXL to speak about his love of the rap game.

XXL: How'd you start listening to hip-hop?

Jakeem Grant: I always loved hip-hop. It was always played before the games. Even when I was a little kid, coming out to songs in little league. Bonecrusher's "Never Scared," Nelly's "Here Comes The Boom"—that was my theme song right there. I listened to those two before every middle school game [and] high school game. Those really stuck out to me. Hip-hop has always been a part of my life. I listen to it every day. It has great messages in there; it can turn your day into a great day.

Who was your first favorite rapper?

My first favorite rapper was DMX. It was just something about his swagger and his aggression. I was always like, "I just wanna be a dog on the field. I want that same aggression on the field that he has as a rapper." Now it's changed. Now my go-to rappers are Lil Boosie, Yella Beezy, WebbieLil Baby and Young Thug.

Who's your greatest rapper of all time?

My favorite rapper of all time is Tupac. He's a poet. He's just raw music—no mumble, straight to the point. And if you actually listen to the lyrics, he's talking about real-life stuff, stuff that you can relate to.

What are your thoughts on rappers getting more involved in the NFL this season? YG and Jay-Z went to Los Angeles Rams games. You don't really see rappers in the crowd at NFL games often.

I love it, especially seeing YG at the [Los Angeles] Rams game. That's just an honor. We listen to the music nonstop and I'm pretty sure plenty of NFL guys have been to rappers' concerts and stuff like that. For them to show up at a game says, "We appreciate y'all as well." We appreciate that, because their music keeps us hype. YG is definitely one of my favorite rappers too. He cold.

Who would be in your dream Super Bowl halftime show lineup?

To open it up, I'ma come out with Yella Beezy, with "That's On Me." I'ma have Young Thug come up next. I gotta bring out YG. I gotta let Kodak [Black] slide in there. Then I just gotta crush em with the duo: Boosie and Webbie. I'd have to pay them a lot of money but that would be the best halftime show ever.

What's your favorite rap album of 2018?

I'd have to go with YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Until Death Call My Name Reloaded. I love gangsta rap and he got that same raw aggression like Tupac, DMX, Boosie, Webbie. All these guys got that aggression and that's the reason why I like it. "Diamond Teeth Samurai" is my favorite song off that album. Dude is young and he's easily climbing up into my top favorite rappers. I've never had a rapper that's younger than me that's about to be my favorite rapper.

What do you think about the Dallas rap scene?

It's taking off, especially with Yella Beezy. He's the hottest in Dallas right now. Also TrapBoyFreddy. We're finally starting to get put on the map and get recognized for our rap. It's been a long time coming. Now I can go in the locker room and brag! We one of the hottest in the game now. I been waiting for this moment. I was listening to Yella Beezy before he even blew up. I need everybody to go listen to his song "Favors."

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