The NFL, EA Sports, and Interscope hosted a two-day recording session with the players, producers, and artists to produce the first-of-its-kind EP.
The six-song EP is being released across streaming platforms and in EA Sports’ MADDEN 24 game today, marking the first time that NFL players are featured in music in Madden NFL franchise history. CROWD CONTROL features New York Giants‘ Darren Waller, Terron Armstead of the Miami Dolphins, Ray-Ray McCloud III of the San Francisco 49ers, free agent Melvin Ingram, and the Carolina Panthers’ DJ Chark.
The players worked alongside a portfolio of rappers and musicians, including EST Gee, Rob49, Turbo, Jay Rock, and more. Grammy Award winner Derrick Milano executively produced the EP. Milano has worked with notable artists, including Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, and GloRilla.
The inaugural EP came to fruition after a few players dropped by Interscope this past spring as part of the NFL Career Tour. Players spent a day at the iconic record label learning about the business of music with leading industry executives, and some expressed interest in taking their talents into the studios. Some of the players, including Waller and McCloud, started laying tracks that day before returning in June to make it real. The NFL, EA, and Interscope decided to seize the opportunity and host a two-day recording session with the players, producers, and a handful of artists.
CROWD CONTROL‘s release comes a few weeks after EA released the official Madden 24 soundtrack along with the game. The EP isn’t the first time EA and Interscope have worked together. The pair synced in 2022 to produce the Madden 22 soundtrack and album release.
Here is the full CROWD CONTROL tracklist:
- “Primetime” features Rob49, McCloud, Jay Rock, Ingram, and J300.
- “Him” features Armstead, That Mexican OT, and Milano.
- “Cold Now” features Armstead, McCloud, and Ingram.
- “Step” features McCloud, Waller, and Armstead.
- “Sweep” features Waller, Armstead, Ingram, and Chark.
- “No Problems” features Rob49, Lebra Jolie, Ingram, Waller, Armstead, and Milano.
CROWD CONTROL has been granted master use for NFL programming, EA marketing efforts, across team socials, and in-game entertainment. Interscope, the NFL, and EA worked with Black-owned streetwear brand Barriers NY to create the EP’s album artwork and merch. The apparel brand is known for showcasing Black history through clothing.
Boardroom joined the NFL and EA at Interscope’s recording studio in Santa Monica in June to take a behind-the-scenes dive into the creation of CROWD CONTROL. Here’s what we learned about some of the players who participated in the EP’s production.
A Dream Come True
Darren Waller’s Legacy
“My mind always moved too fast just to freestyle,” Waller told Boardroom. “As soon as I got drafted into the league, I was just really bored and isolated. I didn’t hang out with a lot of people, so I said, ‘I’m about to start this,’ and started rapping into the mic on my Apple earbuds.”
After that, Waller taught himself how to make beats and edit music in GarageBand. He said his signature sound started to develop from there, so he stuck with it.
Part of Waller’s inspiration stems from his desire to listen to music that didn’t focus on drinking and drugs since he was transitioning those things out of his life. Waller doesn’t just want to rap; he wants to be a part of the full music creation process. He produced some of the beats used in CROWD CONTROL, including the beat for Step.
Waller, a 2020 Pro Bowler, has a strong lineage of musicians running through his family. His biggest inspiration comes from his great-grandfather Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, a famous jazz musician. Fats Waller wore many hats in the jazz world. He was a pianist, organist, singer, and composer; some of his compositions were stamped in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Waller inherited his great-grandfather’s talents and has been playing the piano since he was a toddler. He told Boardroom that he remembers being in band as a kid and participating in the children’s choir at church. He drifted away from music for a bit after middle school but found his way back around 2015.
“I’m somebody who cares about music and cares about coming with purpose and intention. This has been a crazy process. It’s hard to wrap my mind around it,” Waller said. “I had Madden 98 on the PlayStation One. That’s a long time ago. Madden has been a staple for most of my life, so to be approached and have my first beat placement on a Madden soundtrack, which is being overseen by a legendary label…it’s just hard for me even to compute it. I’m trying to just make it happen. It’s just surreal.”
Top five artists/producers Waller would work with, dead or alive:
Ray-Ray McCloud’s Passion
Much like Waller, Ray-Ray McCloud was born into the music industry. His father worked in the industry for a while, which inspired him to get into it. Eventually, his father took him out of music so he could focus his efforts on football before guiding him back into it in recent years.
McCloud came up on this opportunity to record for CROWD CONTROL after hearing one of Milano’s beats during career day and linking with Waller to write a hit.
“It’s a blessing [and] an opportunity of a lifetime,” McCloud said. “You don’t really get an opportunity to record for a video game that you played your whole life, and then at that, to be a football player on the game as well, it’s two blessings.”
McCloud said music has always been a passion for him, but he really started to focus on it around 16 when he and his friends would throw parties and play around with recording music. He turned that hobby into a business when he founded his own music label and production company, LegendTribe.
McCloud brings a lot of his experience on the football field into the studio. He said the professionalism and putting the reps in on the field can be compared to how you master your musical craft in the studio. McCloud was most excited about this opportunity because of the growth in the entertainment world and how music naturally flows into the sports industry.
“You don’t have to stick to one passion,” he said.
Top five artists/producers McCloud would work with, dead or alive:
- Lil Wayne
- Missy Elliot
Terron Armstead’s Tradition
Armstead got his start in music in high school when he started a small music group with family and friends. He continued recording music in college for fun, but when he reached the league, he put music on the back burner for a little bit.
“When I got to the league, you hear the shirt up and play kind of stigma. Early in my career, I got away from it completely [and] went radio silent with the music,” Armstead told Boardroom. “People who had been fans of my music kept urging me to get back to it.”
Armstead said he had to build his confidence back up before getting back in the studio, but it all came together when he linked up with a producer and got back in front of the mic. Now, the renowned offensive tackle and four-time Pro-Bowler brings in nearly 25,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, with his most popular single surpassing 2 million streams.
Armstead told Boardroom that he’s humbled and excited to be featured on CROWD CONTROL to show his talents and musical capabilities. He said being a part of this project alongside Madden is monumental since he was raised playing the game.
“I’ve never been a part of something like this. We’re at Interscope Records with Dr.Dre’s original soundboard. We got legendary energy in here,” Armstead said. “My inspiration comes from respecting the craft. I feel like I’m musically talented…I’m already soaking up some game and knowledge from these young guys. It’s only gonna get better.”
Top five artists/producers Armstead would work with, dead or alive:
- Moneybagg Yo
- EST Gee
- Lil Wayne
Check out these NFL stars on CROWD CONTROL today.
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