In Your Ear: Olympic Swimmer Cullen Jones

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Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones shares the songs that pump him up — and cool him down — for the latest installment of the series, In Your Ear.


And now it's time for the segment we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests about the music that's topping their personal playlists.

Today we feature Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones. He stopped by our studios earlier this week to tell us about his latest efforts to get more children of color into swimming. So we asked him what tunes get him prepared to dive into the pool.

(Soundbite of song, "Change the Game")

JAY-Z (Musician): (Rapping) Uh, uh, let's go.

Mr. CULLEN JONES (Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer): Hi, my name is Cullen Jones, Olympic gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics. And what I listen to to get myself pumped up is definitely Jay-Z. It's called "Change the Game."

(Soundbite of song, "Change the Game")

JAY-Z: (Rapping) Hold up, love, every time you see Jigga Man I'm rollin on dubs. Don't forget about them blades choppin' it up. It's the Rob, who hotter than us? Jay-Hov, about to change my name to Jay Peso. But in the meantime call me William H. though. On the platinum Yamaha, got the engine gunnin', throwin' it up like liquor on an empty stomach.

Mr. JONES: Definitely a huge fan of a lot of the things that he has to say and how he collaborates with different people.

(Soundbite of song, "Change the Game")

MEMPHIS BLEEK (Musician): (Rapping) Who the want what? Catch Bleek in South Beach out of the reach of the police.

Mr. JONES: I definitely listen to stuff that's kind of fast and in your ear when I need to pump it up.

(Soundbite of song, "Forever")

DRAKE (Musician): (Singing) Understand, nothing was done for me so I don't plan on stopping at all. I want it - forever mine, ever mine, ever mine.

Mr. JONES: I also listen to Drake. He's a new artist.

(Soundbite of song, "Forever")

DRAKE: (Singing) And telling every girl she the one for me and I ain't even planning to call. I want this forever mine.

Mr. JONES: My favorite song with Drake is "Forever," mainly because the first verse is: last name ever, first name greatest.

(Soundbite of song, "Forever")

DRAKE: (Singing) Last name ever, first name greatest, like a sprained ankle, boy, I ain't nothing to play with. Started off local, but thanks to all the haters, I know G4 pilots on a first name basis.

Mr. JONES: And that really gets me pumped up when I'm about to swim.

(Soundbite of song, "Forever")

DRAKE: (Singing) ...brown, Nino. She insists she got mo' class, we know. Swimmin' in the money, come and find me, Nemo. If I was at the club...

Mr. JONES: He definitely follows the same trends as Jay-Z when it comes to just being a lyrical genius.

(Soundbite of song, "Forever")

DRAKE: (Singing) Labels want my name beside the X like Malcolm. Everybody got a deal, I did it without one.

Mr. JONES: When I need to kind of calm down a little bit, it's more towards listening to Sade, "Smooth Operator." And that's really because of my dad.

(Soundbite of song, "Smooth Operator")

SADE (Musician): (Singing) Diamond life, lover boy. We move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy.

Mr. JONES: I used to listen to that with him in the car. It kind of makes me remember him, like summertimes with him. That's definitely a good one for me.

(Soundbite of song, "Smooth Operator")

SADE: (Singing) When you require streetcar desire for higher heights.

MARTIN: That was Cullen Jones telling us what's playing in his ear. Cullen was part of the Olympic swim team that set a world record for the 4x100 relay in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. To hear our full conversation with Jones, please go to our website at Click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE.

And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more on Monday.

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