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Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ike Taylor: Line ‘Em Up

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    Ike Taylor is a product of the Hip-Hop generation. The Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Back grew up in New Orleans, and was a childhood associate of both Lil’ Wayne and B.G. Just as he’s watched his rapping peers rise to stardom, the Super Bowl ring-wearing Taylor has matured into one of the most versatile players in his position. Just as a rapper will strike when cornered, Taylor is known as one of the hardest hitters in the legendary Steel Curtain defense of the Steelers.        However, Taylor has a heart just as big as his wallops. His camp Face Me Ike, brings members of his Louisiana community together to learn the fundamentals of football. Taylor talks about his camp, his iPod, and his team with AllHipHop.com. AllHipHop.com: First, tell me about your camp. I was just at the website this morning and I like the name of it, Face Me Ike. Tell me how you got the name and what the camp is really about. Ike: FaceMeIke@yahoo.com was my email in college. So me and Shawn, my [publicist], she was talkin’ about it and we decided to make it a camp and website. And then just came up with the definition for it, and it’s been started ever since. AllHipHop.com: And what does it offer? I’ve never played football and I know that camps are very different in terms of what they offer.  Also, who is this camp for and what are the age groups?Ike: It’s for every age.  It’s really, really for the kids, it’s kids from like fourth grade, third and fourth grade all the way up to twelfth grade. AllHipHop.com: Are most of the kids in the Louisiana area or do they come in from all over?Ike: Nah, the Louisiana area. AllHipHop.com: We interview a lot of rappers from New Orleans and Baton Rouge and we have, years later, a community that is being affected after the hurricane. How hard was it to have your season start at the same time all this was happening at home in 2005? Ike: Man, that’s my city. I love New Orleans and I still got family there. I got a lot of friends, most of my friends in New Orleans, or went to school with me in New Orleans from eighth grade to 12th and college. So, that’s home for me. The people who went through Katrina and it hurt. It’s a slow process giving back ’cause it’s not gonna happen overnight. AllHipHop.com: Okay, now tell me-being a ‘80s baby, how much do you think Hip-Hop and NFL football are related? Ike: You already know how I think. We think we are rappers and they think they are athletes. [Both laugh]  We both complement each other; we watch them everyday on TV. We like all the same words they use. Just growin’ up listening to rap and seeing how it changed, you know, they say it’s fallin’ off but…I don’t really think it’s fallin’ off. I think it’s probly gon’ be stronger than ever. Not how like people wishin’ what they want it to be but…I don’t think Hip-Hop fell off, man, we still got E-40, man, Lil’ Wayne…he holdin’ it down for the whole N.O. at the same time…he holdin’ it down for the South. Cash Money [Records] been doin’ it. Still can’t forget the O.G.’s, B.G., Scarface, man, I can go down the line, man. They feel like they athletic and we feel like we [can be] rappers. I mean I freestyle everyday…just to say I’d do it. No lie. Not to say I’m a rapper, I don’t want to be no rapper, but, if you were to put football players with rappers, they’d line up together. AllHipHop.com: Okay, now being that you play the position that you do,  every time you’re at the line of scrimmage, you’re looking at your opponent right in the eye and, certainly, that is a big part of Hip-Hop. I mean that kind of flows into the whole concept, of “facing Ike.” Tell me, what kind of music gets you juiced before the game? You’ve named all your favorite artists, but, do you have a theme or a song that really gets you in a certain kind of place to go against this competition? Ike: Man, you can let me listen to Lil’ Wayne. You can let me listen to Lil’Wayne all day. Any mix tape Lil’ Wayne got, I’m listenin’ to. The Carter II was hot. He definitely-on DJ Khaled mixtapes, who’s hot right now. That’s my favorite guy right now but you could let me listen to that Beanie Sigel, “What Your Life Like.”  Aww man, that gets me fired up. AllHipHop.com: People are saying that there are too many celebrations [in football]. If somebody gets a tackle, people are going crazy or if somebody gets a touchdown, there is a five minute dance. There has been a lot of criticism over that. Do you think that so much of that celebration and excitement has come from a place like Hip-Hop and so many players that are listening to it? Or no?Ike: No question about it. I mean, whatever we see on TV, that’s what the young guys are gon’ do. And football is an emotional game. We can’t, we can’t play football like nuns or we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t be able to play football, we wouldn’t be in the NFL. But at the same time, there’s certain lines you don’t cross. At the same time, man, it’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of hard training, you know, that’s just-we just expressin’ ourselves when we out there on the field.AllHipHop.com: I’m glad that you bring the point of rappers idolizing ball players and ball players idolizing rappers. Me being from Pittsburgh, I’ve always enjoyed the fact that Snoop Dogg is one of the biggest Steelers fans out there. I mean, he’s like one of us. How does that feel for you and have you ever met certain rappers that just surprised you on how well read they were of what you do? Ike: Snoop, when we won our Super Bowl [in 2005]… Snoop came to our practice in the old Detroit [Pontiac] Dome [to see] Joey Porter. Snoop, like, every time you look at his videos, he’s got on black and gold. So you already know he’s representin’. There’s a couple people-Lil’ Wayne, me and him went to high school together. B.G., we done all went to high school together. [With Wayne], I just like hearin’ the young dude go off, ‘cause [I remember him] in the library, man, when he was young…just flowin’ to himself. Now, you hear him right now and he the hottest thang goin’. AllHipHop.com: It seems like everybody needs an enemy. Obviously, being in the AFC  North, there are plenty of rivals. Do you equate that at all to maybe what we see with Jay and Nas back in the day, like friendly competition?Ike: I’m tryin’ to shut you down. Just like if a rapper goes against another rapper, I’m tryin’ to throw harder than you. I’m tryin’ to get my punchlines harder than you. I’m tryin’ to get my point across, harder than you. So it basically equals out the same…on both sides. I think either the receiver is tryin’ to get his point across and, you know, on the defensive side, I’m tryin’ to get my point across, just like a rapper, face to face. AllHipHop.com: Being so young, what did that Super Bowl ring mean to you?Ike:  Um, it was a blessing to me…’cause you-I mean I had guys out there like Jeff Hartings, Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, guys who [are] better than me,  and all these years had never had a ring. And it just so happens that it was goin on my third year…and I was able to get a ring. And it’s harder with the game of football, on the NFL level, period. But to win a ring? Awww, man, that’s what everybody, all the 32 men playin’ for. AllHipHop.com: How do you feel, being from Louisiana, listening to the radio right now with artists, from whether it’s Baby Boy Da Prince, or Hurricane Chris, that might not be as lyrical? Do you like it or do you wish there was more of some of those [artists] you mentioned like UGK or Lil’ Wayne? Ike: Everybody got their own opinion. So it’s different strokes for different folks. Um, it don’t really matter to me. I got an iPod full of music, so it really don’t  matter. They can play whatever they wanna play. At the same time, you gotta look at, like, TV and everything else. It’s a business. You gotta mix every race, age, and color, who’s watchin’ TV. So you just can’t put it up to just one color or one individual person. You gotta look at the whole thing. AllHipHop.com: What do the Steelers have in store for this coming season and how has a new coach affected the charisma of the team? Ike: Man if all the readers wonderin’ what we really doin’…tell ‘em we workin’. Tell ‘em we workin’, we grindin’. We ain’t gotta make no big moves, we ain’t gotta get no big names. It’s all when we step on that field on Sunday, we gon’ give it a 110%,  with a new coach and everything.

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