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This college football standout is an in-demand, ‘superhuman’ hip-hop producer

(Washington Post)
Chad Thomas is known in the sports world as a starting defensive end for the Miami Hurricanes and a former five-star recruit out of Booker T. Washington High in Miami. Off the field, he’s recognized as a local producer that goes by “Major Nine.” The senior’s profile is steadily rising in both realms, causing Miami underground hip-hop artist Ice Berg to label Thomas “superhuman” for his numerous talents.
As Thomas, 21, begins spring practice this week with the Hurricanes, Major Nine made a significant career breakthrough. He produced the opening track, “Apple of My Eye,” on hip-hop artist Rick Ross’s new album, “Rather You Than Me,” establishing a relaxing, yet rugged, tone to Ross’s ninth solo album in the biggest moment to date for the young producer.
Thomas exists at the intersection of South Florida’s subcultures, with football and hip-hop among its biggest influences. It’s often overlooked by those who accociate the city with the South Beach lifestyle mostly enjoyed by tourists, but it can be spotted across Biscayne Bay in Liberty City, a predominately African American community where Thomas grew up. The neighborhood is known for its poverty and crime, but rarely for the beauty produced through its perseverance.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, Trick Daddy, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Trina all call Liberty City home. These neighborhood idols instilled hope in Thomas, who finished second on the Hurricanes with 4.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss last season as one of Miami’s top defensive playmakers. He’s currently majoring in sociology with a minor in music business.
Listed at 6 feet 6 and 265 pounds, Thomas aspires to play in the NFL after his senior season, while continuing to make beats with his friends and help them stay off the streets (he’s currently in the process of building his own studio). In a 30-minute conversation with Thomas, we discussed his relationship with Ross, his passion for music and football and how he manages to find time for both in college.
How did this process come together?
I guess it took years. I met Ross in high school, and we kinda connected. He treated me like his little brother. He knew I was into music, and he knew I was into rapping. I don’t think he really knew I made beats and all that. I like doing that more than rapping. We did a song with Lil Dred called “Hurt Nobody”probably a year back. That was the first time he was on my beat, but it wasn’t his song. Sam Sneak, his DJ, kept hitting me up saying, “Send me some beats.” He never told me what it was for. I’d send him everything I made. Out of nowhere, he called me and said, “I got him on your beat.”
When did you first meet Ross?
It was either 2013 or 2014. I think it was 2014. Someone set up a meeting with the top high school players on our high school team to meet him at Dave & Busters. A woman that worked for Ross that had a son on the team set it up. I wasn’t going to go at first, but my position coach [Pierre Senatus] just kept calling my phone like, “Where you at?” I’m like, “I’m home.” He said, “I’m coming to get you. We’re going to meet Rick Ross.” I just hopped up, threw on some clothes and went to Dave & Busters.

Is it crazy thinking what would’ve happened if you didn’t go to that event?
If I ain’t go, I would’ve missed out on a lot. That opportunity probably would’ve never came back to me again. I’m happy that I did it.
What did you think about the end result of “Apple of My Eye,” which featured Raphael Saadiq?
I was too happy. It dropped a week after my mama’s birthday, and I wanted to surprise her with it. I couldn’t even wait until the day of the album. I just told my mom I made a beat for Ross, and it’s going to be on his intro. I told my daddy, and he said we’ve gotta print the check stubs and frame that. We’ve gotta go buy the hard copy.
It made me drop a tear. The song really touched me. It spoke my life. Then to think that I made the beat, just to come from where I’m from in Miami in Liberty City, a lot of people don’t get opportunities like this. When they do, they either mess it up or somebody messes it up for them. I felt blessed for that opportunity.
Listen to the track here (warning: contains offensive language):

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