By Oakland L. Childers
By Kelsey McClure
By Melinda Cooper
By Allison Babka
By Christian Schaeffer
By Allison Babka
By Melinda Cooper
By RFT Music
The clean-cut 23-year-old, who bears a resemblance to actor Donald Faison of Scrubs fame, is demonstrating the simple but stylish dance moves that accompany his "Ram Jam" -- the song he hopes the St. Louis Rams will adopt as their theme song this season.
"It's actually very easy. When it says, 'Down,' you go like this," he says, and reaches down with his right hand. "Down with the Ram team. When it says, 'Up with the good sack', you just jump four times." Stone raises an arm and hops clockwise in a circle. "Then it says, 'Left with a little swing,' so 'Left with a little swing/Swing on your quarterback.'" He clasps his hands, forming a parallel horizontal line and moves his elbows up and down. "It's pretty much just like what it says."
Stone's moves are a far cry from the two left feet Chicago Bears defensive tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry exhibited in the video for 1985's "Super Bowl Shuffle" -- one of the most so-awesomely-bad-it's-awesome novelty hits ever. Still, the aim of "Ram Jam" is similar to the former's message: to pump up Rams players for the long journey to "Motown" -- i.e., Detroit, the site of next year's Super Bowl XL.
Judging by the tune's banging beats -- think the TrackBoyz with less hollering but just as much arena-rock bombast -- and its infectious-as-the-flu hooks, "Ram Jam" is worthy of such cheerleading.
So how did Stone foster an association with the team?
He credits his friendship with right defensive tackle Brian Howard and right defensive end Anthony Hargrove. According to Hargrove, he and some teammates heard Stone's song "Hit It" and loved it. "Me and my buddies liked it so much we said, 'Why don't you do [a song] for the Rams?'" Hargrove says.
With that in mind, Stone began freestyling over the framework of that song and rejiggered the lyrics so that it serves as a roll call of Rams players. (Orlando Pace, Leonard Little and Marshall Faulk receive shout-outs.)
Adds Hargrove, "We play [the 'Ram Jam'] in the locker room all the time."
Stone shot a "Ram Jam" video in late July (on one of the hottest days of the summer, no less) at Downtown Detailing, which is co-owned by Jesse James and Cidell Small III (a.k.a. Three, a.k.a. Nelly's personal assistant). The clip features Rams cheerleaders, players and even kids from the Kids in the Middle, a charity that provides counseling and support for children of divorced parents. If the video sees release, Stone says proceeds will benefit the St. Louis-based nonprofit.
Although nothing had been confirmed at press time, the Rams' entertainment department has seen the video and there's talk of using it in some capacity during home games, according to Molly Higgins, corporate communications coordinator for the team.
"It's a very high-energy and unique Ram-centric song," Higgins says.
Perhaps "Ram Jam" will be the catalyst to jump-start Stone's career.
He grew up in Columbia in a musical family, immersed in gospel, blues and hip-hop. (Stone cites Kool Moe Dee, Barry White and Marvin Gaye as sonic presences.) Both his mother and late father (the latter was a preacher) played piano -- as does Stone, who learned to play by ear.
"I tried to take piano lessons, but my mom didn't want to pay for the lessons," he says. "I would just watch [the teachers'] hands, but I wouldn't grasp the concept of the actual notes. We would come home and she'd get off work and we'd get to the organ or piano and she'd be like, 'Well, show me what you learned. What is this note? What is this note?' And I'm like, 'I don't know. But I can sit there and play it!' After, like, three months, she's like, 'I'm not wasting my money no more.'"
Right after he graduated high school in 2000, Stone made the decision to forgo college and concentrate on his tunes full-time.
"It was either basketball or music," he says. "I got to open up for Tech N9ne, the guy from Kansas City, outdoors at the [Missouri State] Fairgrounds. It was crazy. People was crazy. Reporters came up, talking to us afterwards. I was just like: 'This is it!' I've always loved music and always liked dealing with music, but that was like the point in time when I was like, 'I'm stepping out right now.'"
Stone now commutes from Columbia to St. Louis and hopes to release an album -- which he's working on with his producer, Frizz, who also programmed the beats on "Ram Jam" -- by next spring. In the meantime he's playing at the Pageant next Friday at the Grammy Demo Review & New Music Spotlight and is penciled in to open for Lil Jon when the Atlanta crunk master next visits St. Louis.
And, of course, he's hoping "Ram Jam" has its intended effect on the team.
"Adrenaline," he says. "Motivation. It's their own song that they have for this year. It's targeting a goal, it's a goal to reach Motown. That right here is a lot of motivation, high-energy."