With his team, the Philadelphia Union, in their off-season, central midfielder Michael Lahoud is turning once again to loves beyond soccer. Much of his current free time involves a humanitarian project with fellow MLS player and Sierra Leone native Kei Kamara, building a school in that country through Schools for Salone.
But when it’s time to unwind, Lahoud moves on to his other main off-field passion – music. And he’s got yet another collaboration with a fellow MLS player going in that department, too. A lyricist and singer inspired by soul and acoustic classics, Lahoud’s readying an original album due out early next year – one that will also feature Union forward C.J. Sapong.
“For the past couple of years I’ve been really inspired by what I call ‘acoustic soul.’ You hear a lot of R&B artists now, and even some rappers, playing or making unplugged songs,” says Lahoud, of the musical compositions he writes to de-stress off the field. “It’s like Drake meets John Legend, almost. So I really like that, and I really like collaborating with other teammates and other people in the soccer community who can rap.”
Sapong just happens to be one of those soccer players who can rap – and conveniently, he’s Lahoud’s roommate on the road. “He’s a funny dude; he’s a character. He’s usually the instigator, trying to wind me up to get me to sing in front of people,” says Lahoud, praising Sapong's “East Coast flavor.”
Also of note: the album project is most definitely happening, despite some other MLS musical projects seeming doomed to limbo. (Wither Clint Dempsey’s long-overdue rap album as Deuce, The Redux?) “It’s gonna have a little bit of everything,” Lahoud says, “A little bit of East Coast, West Coast; something for the sensitive people out there.”
While we had Lahoud cornered at MLS Digital HQ, we asked him to share his current favorite tracks for various life situations.
MLSsoccer.com: If soccer had walk-up songs, what would yours be?
Michael Lahoud: A song I always listen to before games is called “Always Strapped” by Birdman, featuring Lil Wayne. I can’t sing half the lyrics right now, because it’s not family-appropriate, but it’s talking about, “Don’t mess with me; I’m ready to go, I’m always strapped.”
What’s another hype song you listen to in the locker room?
Anything Drizzy. I actually don’t like “Hotline Bling” – I feel like I’m the one person who doesn’t. It’s the music video!
But a song that plays in our locker room is [a track by OB O’Brien feat. Drake and P. Reign] “Schemin’ Up.” I love that. It’s just fun – that’s the only way to describe it.
When I write music, I always visualize, “What does this song make you wanna do? Are you in the club hanging out with your homies and whatnot? Or are you having a good time and just being silly?” This one is like, just you and your boys are up to no good, schemin’ up.
What do you listen to when you want to get over a bad day?
Definitely not Drake or Lil Wayne. I actually like Snow Patrol, especially “Open Your Eyes.” That’s actually an inspiring song that I put on my playlist before games as well – kind of like the last song I listen to before stepping on the field, to calm me down a bit.
When I play I like to be calm. I know some people like to be amped, and ready to run through a wall, but I’m at my best when I’m just calm and composed. You have to be, playing center midfield.
What’s something else you like to play to chill out?
I like Phoenix. I actually heard them when I used to live in LA. I heard people on the beach that were playing volleyball and someone brought a little iPod, and everyone was jamming out. I like “Lisztomania” and “Rome.” “Rome” is the ultimate chill-out, driving down the freeway, windows down, shades on, just having a good day song.
Last one—what would you play to impress a date?
I’ve actually done this before. If I’m in front of you and this song comes on, you know I’m interested. So ladies, pay attention. It’s “Latch” by Disclosure, but the Sam Smith version – more acoustic, and purely piano.
So if you tried playing that, how did it work out?
Um, I’m still waiting on that call. Still waiting.