Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is from Wisconsin, a region of the country that’s produced about the same number of famous rappers as The Villages, Fla., the country's largest retirement community (no rappers, to be exact, although Justin Vernon of the band Bon Iver is a native of Eau Claire, Wis.,and has collaborated with Kanye West on several occasions).
So when Watt appeared in a rap video last year, he was a little out of his element.
The song, called “Houston” and performed by Houston-bred rappers Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Z-Ro, also included Watt’s teammates Arian Foster, Brian Cushing and T.J. Yates, who mostly stood in the background looking tough while the performers brag-rapped about their hometown and mean-mugged the camera.
Since arriving in Houston and appearing in that video, Watt has taken on a new appreciation for a brand of music he barely listened to growing up.
“The rap scene is much, much bigger down there in Houston, and it’s really cool,” Watt told ESPN Playbook. “It’s nice for me because rap isn’t something I necessarily knew a lot about before getting to Houston, but now I’ve gotten to meet guys like Bun-B, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Chamillionaire and all those guys.”
The hook to “Houston” goes, “Houston, Texas, home of the Texans,” as the song is essentially a love letter to the city’s NFL team.
“I think it’s cool Houston kind of comes together as one, as you see two different cultures, rap and football, coming together,” Watt said. “They support us and we support them.”