At The Players’ Tribune, we know that music and sports have always been great teammates. That’s why we’ve created Playlist, a series where we ask our contributors to look inside their phones, cars, workout mixes and whatever else — and share 10 songs they’ve had in heavy rotation.
Here with this week’s Playlist is Chargers linebacker (and budding rapper) Melvin Ingram.
(Scroll to the bottom for a Spotify playlist with all of Melvin’s songs.)
1. “Love Yourz,” J. Cole
I’m from North Carolina, so if there is one musician I have to support, it’s J. Cole. He’s from Fayetteville, and I’m from a place not too far away called Rockingham. So I feel like I can really relate to his music. He always speaks about where he’s going — that’s the North Carolina sound. To talk about our surroundings and our struggle. It’s different than anything else.
Cole isn’t afraid to shy away from issues, which makes you like him even more as an artist. I saw him out there marching with protestors in New York. That lets you know that he never let the fame get bigger than himself. He knows he has a platform and people listen to him, so he uses the opportunity to say things someone without a platform would want to say but would never be heard.
I’ve really been all out on J.Cole, even when he was making mixtapes like “Lights Please.” But both his albums are crazy — Born Sinner and 2014 Forest Hills Drive. There are so many great ones, but if I had to pick one song to keep, it’d be “Love Yourz.”
2. “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro),” Meek Mill
I really like everything about Meek’s music. His mixtapes and now his albums. His new album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, is going crazy right now. “The Trillest” and “Lord Knows” are probably my two favorite tracks on it.
I know some people have their own opinion about whether DWMTM or Dreams and Nightmares is better, but I really rock with both those albums.
I really gravitate to his music. Like J.Cole, I feel like a lot of stuff he’s been through, I’m going through. So I relate more to his music because I feel like he’s speaking to me when he raps. I don’t think you’re gonna hear him rap on a track about something he ain’t got. The lifestyle and environment Meek grew up in is going to be something that most of urban and young America can relate to.
3. “Dead Presidents II,” Jay Z
Don’t ask me to pick a “Jay Z era.” You can’t. Not possible. Jay is the whole thing, and he’s gonna give you nothing but the real. He’s going to give you The Blueprint on how to make things happen. He’s gonna give you Reasonable Doubt, The Black Album, Holy Grail.
If there’s one thing Jay Z is, it’s consistent.
But, if I absolutely have to choose and if I can only take one Jay Z album with me, it’s going to be Reasonable Doubt and if I have to play one song on repeat, it’s “Dead Presidents II.”
4. Melvin Ingram
Someone else that you should add to your rotation? A guy named Melvin Ingram. That’s right. A lot of people know I love music, but don’t know that I make my own.
I got a mixtape out called From Nothing To Something. When you start making music, I think it changes the way you listen to artists. I definitely take in music differently than most people. I try to reach all types, all genres, and let that influence what I do.
So my music, being from North Carolina, it’s sort of like Cole’s: A story of the struggle from then until now. I only speak about what I’ve been through and where I’m going. You will never hear me say something about having a Bugatti because that’s something I don’t have. But like J. Cole has for me, hopefully someone will listen to what I went through and it will mean something to them.
It’s bangers, it’s slow, it’s grind. It’s everything.
5. “Black Widow,” Iggy Azalea
Listen, there’s a lot of Iggy hate. But I’ll say this: Everybody understands, at the end of the day, she’s a good artist.
She combines pop, rap and all that. Being from Australia, I feel like she can burn all of that stuff together and it comes out to a good sound, like “Black Widow.” I think she’s cool. I’m into it. No shame.
6. “Exactly How It Was,” Lucci ft. Rich Homie Quan
OK, so I have to put some guys on here that many people probably aren’t listening to yet. One of those is Lucci.
Just go get his mixtape, Wish Me Well. There’s a song on there with Rich Homie Quan (who we’ll get to later), called “Exactly How It Was.” He’s got some nice songs on there. Check it out and thank me later.
7. “Made For It,” Lucci
Another Lucci song I really like is “Made For It,” because I feel like I can relate. Especially to the line, “I knew my time would come, I had to wait for it.”
8. “Flex,” Rich Homie Quan
Rich Homie Quan is finally having his moment right now. He’s definitely a big name in the rap game. Obviously “Flex” is the song to introduce yourself to Quan.
It just comes down to good music. Rich Homie Quan has a unique sound, makes good music. Done.
9. Kanye West
Now that I make my own music, I think I appreciate what Kanye does a lot more. I’ve always been a fan, don’t get me wrong, but once you start making music you understand how hard it is.
So that’s what makes Kanye his own person. And when you can do it all — produce, write, make your own beats and make your own music? You’re a special talent.
10. “Stay With Me,” Sam Smith
So the whole thing with guilty pleasures is that you’re supposed to be kind of ashamed to admit out loud that you’re feeling it. But I’ll say this with zero hesitation: Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” is it.
I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why. All I know is that it’s a good song and I love it.