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Australia’s Olympic Hopes Hit After Star U23 Player Gives Up Football For Rap

In the penultimate match of the Newcastle Jets’ 2018-19 A-League season, 22-year-old right winger Joe Champness highlighted his potential with two goals and an assist in a 6-1 demolition of the Brisbane Roar. Standing at nearly 6-3 and with two goals in three appearances for Australia’s U-23 side, Champness clearly has all the tools of an exciting young professional.

But after going the full 90 the following weekend in a 2-0 victory over Sydney FC, we might never see Champness on a professional soccer pitch again. Despite the new A-League season starting in October and a potential appearance with Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, the attacker has decided to put his football career on indefinite hold while he moves to Los Angeles to pursue his burgeoning rap career.

Champness spent a month this offseason in LA recording music with Create Music Group, which distributed 6ix9ine’s Dummy Boy album, and while Newcastle retains his rights due to a new three-year contract, he’ll essentially be pursuing his musical career while on unpaid leave.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t convinced that there’s something out there,” Champness said. “I met with some really great people and I can’t talk about it too much at this point . . . there’s risk involved, of course, but there’s risk in everything. There’s a lot of circumstances and factors that people aren’t aware of as well. It’ll most likely stay that way. All I can do is make the decision I feel is best.”

Newcastle’s been aware of his passion for music for some time — in fact, before the Jets played against the Melbourne Victory back in November of 2018, Champness, who was nursing an injury at the time, performed a 20-minute pregame set for fans. The man who came up with the idea for that performance was Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna, but he sounds a little less enthused about how things are currently playing out.

“He might be in the U.S. for six months, he might be there for a year, he might never come back to play football,” McKinna said. “But we thought it was important for the Newcastle Jets to have him signed up, so if he does come back he comes back to Newcastle and not to another club. We did the right thing and let him go to the U.S. for a month. People might say that backfired. If a player walks out on a club there is nothing we can do.”

Champness’ stage name is JOWIC (pronounced Joey-Cee), and it’s quickly evident that his “hard-hitting, brooding beats matched with rhymes about clearing obstacles on the road to success” are hugely influenced by Drake.

“I’m a fan of that real hip-hop, that real authentic product that comes from being a little more vulnerable on your tracks at times, but also just being hungry for success,” says Champness. 

You be the judge. This is his most popular track.

His latest release dropped on July 24. 

JOWIC obviously isn’t the first footballer to test himself in the rap game, but he’s probably the best yet.

USMNT legend Clint Dempsey tried his hand at rapping for a minute, but he quit after being asked to rap in interview after interview after interview. Why wouldn’t they just let Deuce work on his bars in peace? Others include Memphis Depay, who’s even worse than his yearlong stint at Old Trafford, and Royston Drenthe, aka Roya2Faces. 

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