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HUDDLE AND FLOW

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AN ALL-PRO RUNNING BACK NOW CARRIES BEATS

A RIAN FOSTER knows what you are thinking: Great, another athlete who wants to be a rapper. The former Texans All-Pro running back gets it. He even agrees. There's a stigma—a fair one—and so Foster understands that you will have preconceived notions about his post-playing career endeavors. All he asks is that you give his music an honest chance, that you listen with an open mind. Because Foster not only believes he's the best athlete who has ever tried his hand at rap, he'll tell you, "I feel confident putting [my music] up against the greatest artists of our generation."

Known musically as Bobby Feeno, Foster has reason for such bold proclamations. Put simply: His music is good. Not compared-to-Shaq-and-Kobe good. Genuinely good.

Last April, Foster independently released his debut album, Flamingo & Koval, and it garnered such a positive reaction that Mass Appeal Records, a label founded by hip-hop legend Nas, signed him to a two-project deal. Foster's first release under his new label—a five-song EP titled A Late February—dropped on June 14. Foster, always a fascinating interview, has also proved to be a thoughtful lyricist.

His music is an amalgamation of many styles, from hip-hop to funk to R&B. Foster credits his parents for his eclectic musical tastes; his dad would spin Earth Wind & Fire and Con Funk Shun, while his mom was more into Patsy Cline and The Eagles.

Foster has been writing songs since he was 12, recording them since high school. The only reason, he says, he didn't release any music when he was playing was because he didn't think he would have been able to devote enough time to his art.

"I take this seriously," he says. "Nights and years and years of just writing, days and days of staying up and working. I put in my time. And I think if anybody gives it an honest listen, they'll hear that."

LISTENER'S GUIDE TO A LATE FEBRUARY

1 S.W.A.N. (FEAT. XAVIER OMAR):

"It's about telling a woman you care for [that] you have to work on you first. I wanted it to be a grown person's song. I wanted an adult to listen to that and say, That's my s---."

2 TALK ABOUT IT:

"I collaborated with my old Texans teammate Jonathan Grimes on it. He majored in music and allowed me to hear music in a different way. It's a summer bop. It's not deep, but it's dope."

3 SCARLET LETTER:

"It's talking about me cheating on my significant other. It's part of my journey and how I felt through that situation. Not proud of it, I don't advocate cheating on your significant other. But art is reflecting situations and emotions."

4 BEAUTIFUL LIE (FEAT. JACK FREEMAN):

"Initially I was just going to use the beat and just have a musical interlude, but I heard it and I was like, I have to write to this."

5 MS. CARRY:

"My personal favorite. The name is a pun on miscarriage. It's something I went through in college with somebody I still love to death. We didn't work out. It's detailing those feelings as a grown man looking back at a teenager who went through that."