This is a big year for former Gonzaga College high football star A.J. Francis. The 28-year-old is looking to shoot up the depth chart in his second year with the Burgundy and Gold. But he's also trying to shoot up to the top of the music charts.
In his fifth professional season, AJ Francis is busy wrapping up running backs for Washington one Saturday evening . Un-drafted, Francis plays on defense and he hopes to make a big impact this year.
"I’ve made a lot of plays my whole career and that’s the reason I’m still here to show that I belong in the rotation," he said.
An hour after the game, the former Terps star raps on the microphone at a DC club. Yes, he still has the energy to do so.
"Jordan played in the Finals with the flu so anybody who thinks I can't go out there and perform after a football game that don’t make any sense."
Francis performs songs from his debut album OTA meaning Ode to Athlete. It comes out Sep 8.
He started rapping when he was 11 to get away from violence and drugs in a neighborhood in Severn, Md.
"Music got me through a lot of things," he said. "Every time I had a hard day I would listen to everyday struggle by Biggie. It just calmed me." Francis also added that music came natural to him. He said he could write songs in 10 minutes sometimes.
Now you might think rapping and playing ball can’t work with all the responsibilities that come with making an album and playing in the league ,but Francis smartly produced the album from January to June. "You just have to dedicate yourself to the point where you know this is what I want to do."
Going by the stage name Franc, the lineman’s album cover holds a profound message.
"It looks like a jail cell but it's football lines," he says. "I’m showing this is people what they want me in this box. You gotta have a bigger picture than everybody else. When somebody tells you no a thousand times, you have to believe in yourself that you can do it."
Francis raps about a variety of topics including his upbringing and social issues.
In his single Ybnp, he has a line in the song that says,"Ronald Reagan made crack rock,give you double time but them white boys with cocaine was a petty crime." It's a clear reference to his frustration about how the War on Drugs disproportionately affected young black men in the 1980's.
"Nobody should be judged by the color of their skin or their sport. Nobody should be judged by where they grew up."
Because he’s an athlete many people think Francis’ rap will be trash but they learn.
"People assume if you are an athlete, that you are trash at rapping," he said. "I guess that's Kobe's(Bryant) fault. But with my music, they start bobbing their head like 'ooo alright this is tough".
The rapper has gotten so much love that WPGC, one of the top music stations in the area has played his single Olympic Gold several times.
The ultimate takeaway for his album is for people to feel free to do whatever they love.
"I just wanted to show non-athletes and athletes what it meant to not stay in your box and not be afraid to be yourself."
Francis hopes one day he'll become the first athlete to tour in the offseason and then ball out during the season.
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