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INGLEWOOD, California – A trumpet blared a live beat when a string ensemble joined.
“I got five on it!” sang the Mariachi Rams as the unexpected SoFi Stadium crowd roared in anticipation.
As he stood close to midfield, a laugh grew over Jalen Ramsey’s face as the Los Angeles Rams’ cornerback glanced at the infinity screen as Mariachi Rams put on her No. 5 jersey and heard their tune, one of his favorite hip-hop songs arranged with a mariachi flavor.
“The energy was amazing, and at that moment I just wanted to say, ‘Yeah, what’s going on? Get beaten up!'” Ramsey recalled. “It was something that was super special and personal they did.”
When the Mariachi Rams ’60-second rendition of Luniz’ 1995 hit ended, Ramsey nodded, waved his hands, and then returned for the Week 9 game against the Tennessee Titans.
“We wanted him to actually know we were doing it for him,” said Jesse Hernandez, one of nine band members. “Jalen is the man. He’s our buddy.”
The Mariachi Rams have had something of a cult following since they started playing Rams games in 2019.
“It’s electrifying,” said Santiago Alberto, a band member who arranges the group’s music. “As the adrenaline gets going. It feels like we’re doing a concert for 70,000 fans.”
Rams fans often ask the impeccably fit band members for selfies and give their full attention when the band performs from a stage in the northwest corner of the stadium bowl during the breaks of the football action.
But the Mariachi Rams’ most notable fan is perhaps All-Pro Ramsey, a 27-year-old Nashville native whose attention they caught when he played his first game in Los Angeles two seasons ago after his blockbuster trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars, which Rams hosted Sunday (16:05 ET, Fox).
“It was a star-studded event that I had never experienced in my NFL career yet,” Ramsey recalled, thinking back to his first game in Los Angeles in 2019. “Then there was a mariachi band, and that was something that was super unique, and of course I knew it was something that was specifically unique to the LA Rams, because we did not have that in Jacksonville. “
Mariachi Rams performs authentic hits, but enjoys interfering with occasional mariachi-infused hip hop or popular culture music. They’ve played 2Pac’s “California Love,” the theme song to “Rocky,” and even ESPN’s Monday Night Football theme. They’re the NFL’s first mariachi band.
“It’s just so cool to see all these different cultures together, united through sports and music,” said Alberto, a 27-year-old music teacher. “I just feel like we’re lucky, that we have the opportunity.”
“Being in LA and being in the culture here and being around so many different people in the community, they embody in a way what LA is all about,” Ramsey said.
Before a week 3 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ramsey pulled up to SoFi Stadium in a blue and yellow Porsche and stepped out in a matching charro, a traditional mariachi suit, with custom white boots that proudly showed his esteem for the band.
“It was just pure joy,” Ramsey said, describing his tribute. “They hand-sewed everything into a T, got my measurements, everything, the suit fits perfectly … It was super special. Super special moment.”
It was something Ramsey decided he would do after watching the Mariachi Rams bring the stadium to life with a performance during a preseason game, which provided a much-needed change in the atmosphere after NFL teams were forced to play mostly in silence in 2020 due to pandemic coronavirus.
“We thought, ‘Damn, he looks better than we do, man!'” Said a grinning Hernandez, 70, who is also a music teacher. “And he’s like a giant guy, like a real buff. But it fit just like him perfectly.”
“He wore it with a lot of pride,” Alberto said. “He wore it with dignity and respect.”
Due to the NFL’s security protocols surrounding COVID-19, Ramsey has not been able to meet the band in person, but he was able to FaceTime with the group the day he wore their suit.
“They were super excited and I was also super excited to meet them,” Ramsey said. “I was delighted to be able to represent those who entered the SoFi Stadium.”
Alberto said, “How cool is it to have an NFL player who wants to meet you or something you’re involved in. Usually, it’s the other way around.”
“It’s a cool thing because you would never expect it,” Hernandez said of Ramsey’s fandom.
In a video produced for the Los Angeles Rams’ website, Ramsey mentioned that it would be cool if the band learned to play, “I Got 5 on It.”
Little did Ramsey know, they heard his request and got going, despite the challenge of taking an original track that included drums, keyboards and synthesizers and making it authentic mariachi, using trumpets, violins, a guitarron, vihuela and guitar with only one formal rehearsal.
“I’m writing the arrangements for the group and I thought, ‘you know what, we’re doing this and we’re doing it right.’ We’re not going to do it like, cheesy or anything. Alberto. “It was a challenge, but I was ready for it.”
“It was dope,” Ramsey said. “I did not expect that.”
What about Ramsey’s next request?
“I hope that right after the Super Bowl, if the Lord wills, the Rams will play along and win the Super Bowl, and right after the Super Bowl I can meet them,” Ramsey said. “And we can have a good offseason where I learn to play an instrument.”