An improbable collision between hip-hop and European football has occurred in the heart of Ohio, as Columbus-based rapper Shawn Bandz has created the track “Columbus Crew,” hoping it will become the new anthem for his hometown's MLS team. And while the team has yet to formally comment, the song has gained traction on YouTube.
Bandz recently took some time to talk to ESPN Playbook about it.
ESPN Playbook: What gave you the idea for the song?
A lot of people in this city don’t even know we have a pro soccer team, so I decided to make an anthem. I also wanted something the hip-hop community would respond to. I originally recorded the song in 2011. It had more of a club-type vibe, something you could chill to. We remixed it and put a new beat to it in December, and we released it in January 2013.
Why so much focus on yellow?
That’s the team’s primary color, and I knew a lot of people would respond to it. When I came up with “yellow swag,” I thought it was kind of catchy, something people could chant at the stadium.
Are you a fan of the Crew?
I haven’t been to any games. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been to every game, but I’ve been interested in soccer. I grew up around a lot of people who love soccer, and I’ve seen a few Crew games on TV.
Have Crew fans knocked you for not going to games?
You’re always going to have haters, people who are mad about that. I was worried about negative feedback in the beginning. For a while, I just put the song on the shelf. But then someone was going through my files looking for music, heard “Columbus Crew” and told me it was a dope song. I played it for other people and everyone gave me the green light, so to speak. I was like, yeah, let’s go ahead and shoot a video.
If you want this to be an anthem, you should probably clean up the lyrics, right?
I thought about that from the beginning and had a clean version ready to go. The team has had it for weeks. They said it sounds great. I changed up everything. The chorus is 100 percent clean. There’s nothing in the lyrics that has to be edited out at this point.
So you’ve had contact with the Crew?
They’ve contacted me, and they tweeted the video. The players have retweeted the video. Reps from the Crew told me the entire front office likes to sing the song. But then they hit me up about buying some tickets in the Nordecke section [where the team's supporter groups sit], and that’s why I haven’t responded back. I came up with this anthem for them. I figured the least they could do is give me a free ticket. They want me to pay for tickets. I was like, seriously?
Still, you’ve gotten pretty good publicity from “Columbus Crew.” Think you’ll do an anthem for another hometown team?
I love the Buckeyes but there are already songs for them, the local radio stations used to play them all the time. So probably not. I wanted to do this one because it was something different. But I probably won’t do it again, only because it feels like a lot of effort for almost nothing. It’s been huge on the publicity side, which I’m grateful for. But if I’m going to go all-out with my creative process, I would want to be sure the song would be the team’s anthem. That’s what my heart was set on. The Crew said they loved the song, but that’s it. As far as appreciation value, it felt like a lot of effort for not a lot of feedback. That said, if another team heard this and asked if I could create an anthem for them, yeah, I would do it. As long as I knew it was put to use.
What about the hockey team, the Blue Jackets?
It was no dis to the NHL, but as I said I made the song for the Crew and also for my audience. You may not know this, but black people don't care about hockey. [laughs] Honestly, though, because of that fact it didn't even cross my mind to mention them.
Is this the year you finally get to Crew Stadium? Especially since the team may play your song at games?
They haven’t said that, but I would love for that to happen. If they do that, I’d be extremely grateful. And, yeah, I’ll definitely attend a few games this year.