SANTA MONICA, CA — About 30 minutes into Darren Waller’s recording session, the music producer asked him to make a small adjustment.
Waller, the Pro Bowl tight end that the Giants traded in March, was stationed inside Interscope Records’ sprawling headquarters to finish two songs he had created. Two hours before his flight to Las Vegas, his new wife Kelsey Plum was waiting.
He leaned into the microphone and uttered “skrrt” as the Waller song “Step” blared. This is an elongated ad-lib that a local talent his manager asked him to shorten and sharpen. Within two minutes Waller had completed the fix, and his four music experts in the room smiled and nodded at the rhythm of the beat Waller produced.
The professional bowler is the great-grandson of swing pianist and composer Thomas Waller, better known as Fats. Escape from the soccer field.
He released four albums and recorded them at home with just a computer, microphones and speakers before sending the tracks to an engineer in Georgia. But just a week after the Raiders traded him, Waller, and 21 other of his NFL players, he said in March, Participated in a league-sponsored program Learn about the music business by visiting Interscope, the record label that launched the careers of Tupac and Dr. Dre.
There, players met label executives, learned about revenue and marketing, and toured the studio. His vice president of sports and games at Interscope, David Nieman, heard “Step” for the first time that day and was impressed with Waller’s expression and insight.
“You can tell he was understanding and was serious about music,” Niemann said in an interview. “You can tell he’s not just talking about it.”
Niemann invited Waller to tweak “Steps” and another song, “Sweep,” on the label that directed the 11-song soundtrack made specifically for the popular Madden NFL video game two years ago. . With Madden 24 out in August, Nieman hoped to make a similar short album called “Extended Play”. Games typically only use songs from traditional recording artists.
“It’s cool to give players some representation,” Waller said. “We take this seriously and we can make good music, so I love the fact that I was one of the first to get it.”
The 30-year-old Waller is a seven-year NFL veteran whose 6-foot-6 size and athleticism make him a versatile receiving threat. He has always used music as entertainment. He played piano and was a member of a middle school band growing up in Georgia. But Waller’s passion for music became the outlet he needed when his life came to a crossroads. After the Baltimore Ravens selected Waller in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, he repeatedly failed league-mandated drug tests.
He began abusing painkillers in high school, and his addiction evolved to include alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. I was suspended. In August 2017, he said he nearly died from a fentanyl overdose.
Waller attended a 30-day rehabilitation program in Camden, Maine, and music became a central part of his recovery process. While there, he juggled counseling meetings while writing lyrics in his free time.
“It was probably the best expressive tool I had,” Waller said. “Music was almost a way of talking and building confidence before things actually happened.”
After rehab, Waller lived briefly with his parents, Charlena and Dorian Waller, and worked in a grocery store. His father snorted proudly when he heard him making beats. “I was overjoyed about it because it was part of my family heritage and it was really cool to see it in my son.
In late 2017, Darren Waller released his debut album,Better Call Wall, 12 songs he rapped with lyrics about his life. On one of his songs, “Made Of,” he raps:I had to let go of my pride and reach out to find out what I was afraid of.
After the NFL reinstated Waller, he signed with the Raiders in November 2018 and was named to the Pro Bowl in the 2020 season after recording 1,196 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. It also broke the Raiders’ franchise record for receptions (107).
In one of the first big signings under general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels, the Raiders signed Waller to a three-year contract extension with a $22 million bond in September 2022. He has become one of the highest paid tight ends in the league.
However, Waller missed eight games last season with a hamstring injury. He began dating Plum, the WNBA’s Las Vegas Her Aces star player, shortly after meeting her while recording a podcast last April. He proposed to her during the Raiders’ goodbye week in October, and Waller later told McDaniels and Ziegler that the couple kept their upcoming marriage a secret.
Before Waller and Plum Release Their March wedding on instagram Ziegler and McDaniels told reporters about their upcoming wedding during an off-the-record session at the NFL’s Scout Combine. Waller said his foundation spokesperson said, Las Vegas Review Journal A reporter asked about the couple’s plans and the first official announcement days before the wedding.
“It was frustrating because I share information with people and hope they keep it private, but I don’t think there was any malicious intent behind it,” Waller said.
Less than two weeks later, a day after the newlyweds returned from their honeymoon, Ziegler called Waller to tell him he had been traded to the Giants in exchange for a third-round draft pick. Waller, who was preparing for training for the season, said the move surprised him. With the Giants, however, he will be a top target for quarterback Daniel Jones, whose contract the team signed to a contract extension in March.
In April, Waller spent two days with the Giants’ offensive players at a rented house near Scottsdale, Arizona. The trip, organized by Jones, allowed Waller to train and have dinner with his new teammates.
“I just met these guys, and already we seem to have great chemistry. Things like that are important.
Organized team activities and mini-camps in New Jersey keep Waller away from Plum, who is still living in Las Vegas. For now, Waller plans to be with Plum every other week and he plans to be with Plum in New Jersey once the season is over, he said.
The WNBA’s regular season runs from May to September, and the NFL season starts on September 7, but cross-country flights could last until late October if the Aces battle for a second straight title.
After a day in Waller’s studio, he climbed into a car for Los Angeles International Airport for a short flight to Las Vegas. So he and Plum were scheduled to attend a boxing match the next day.
“I once heard a friend say, ‘Blessings pile up and start to look like problems,'” Waller said. “Everything in my life now is a blessing. But there is always something to do and very little rest, so it can be tough at times, but it’s important to keep the right perspective.”