EUGENE, Oregon - Will Claye already has an Olympic silver in the triple jump from the 2012 London Games. A bronze in the long jump, too.
Next on his agenda? Gold, of course. Or maybe even platinum, should his upcoming record really take off.
The 24-year-old from Phoenix is leaping into a new endeavor this summer, making an album that's titled, ‘In the Wild.’ Part rap, some rock, it's his take on the world and includes such tracks as ‘We're Hungry’ — a look at child soldiers in Sierra Leone, where he still has family.
Recently, the athlete-turned-rapper belted out some lyrics in singer YG's video ‘IDGAF’ that's been viewed more than 21 million times on YouTube. For his recent success in the studio, though, Claye's still in no hurry to leave for the record business.
He has records of his own to chase in track.
“It's just a hobby of mine,” said Claye, who's been bothered by a sore back heading into the U.S. championships and will only compete in the triple jump. “Because I'd rather have a gold medal than a gold record. No question.”
Claye had quite a showing at the London Games, when he became the first American since 1904 to earn Olympic medals in both the long and triple jump events. That's good and all, but for the Rio Olympics next summer, he's envisioning a far different color of medal.
Won't be easy, though, given the depth on the US team. The top three qualifiers at nationals earn a spot for the world championships in Beijing in August.
Christian Taylor already has an automatic bye to worlds in the triple jump thanks to his Diamond League title last summer. He also won gold in the triple in London and is Claye's biggest rival. They're good friends, too, going back to their days at the University of Florida.
“It's always good to go up against Christian, because we push each other,” Claye said.”But we have a good group of jumpers. Those guys are competition, too. I'm looking forward to jumping against them.”
Always in rhythm on the track, he's found his unique beat off the track, too. His album was recorded at a studio in Santa Monica, California, that belongs to Red Bull, which is one of his sponsors.
Be forewarned, though: His record isn't anything like the sound he produced on YG's video. Claye had a starring role in that track. While wearing his two medals from London, he rapped such catchy lines as, ‘Ill Will chillin’. Ask me what I'm doing I'm trying to make a million.”
There was also this ditty: “Could've switched occupations; Jumped on the track just for vacations. Can't do me dog, just face it. Just face it.”
The title of his album is quite personal to him. It's derived from his Sierra Leonean middle name, ‘Bundu,’ which translates into ‘Wild.’
“A lot of people will be waiting to hear something like that (YG song) and will be surprised, because it won't sound anything like that,” said Claye, who also started his own clothing line. ‘YG,’ he has his own lane. We're two completely different artists, where we come from and what we do. Our vibes are a bit different and that will show.
“I'm just letting people into my mind.”