The Grammy-nominated, Carolina rapper captured the essence of NYC and the loud and proud authenticity of the league.
But as far as setting the stage for a new season, the Liberty had already won before they ever took the court on Friday night.
The Liberty and Grammy-nominated rapper Rapsody teamed up to add the finishing touches to the Liberty’s contributions to the WNBA’s brand resetting that will define the 2019 season, as the league attempts to cultivate the next generation of fans.
Rapsody created an official anthem called “Liberty Loud” in which she captures the essence of NYC and the loud, proud authenticity that the league is attempting to promote moving forward.
New Season, New Sound. Proud to announce the #NewYorkLiberty's 2019 anthem, #LIBERTYLOUD written and performed by Grammy nominated rapper @rapsody and produced by @NottzRaw. 🗣 GET LOUD! pic.twitter.com/VnEsAmofHP
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) May 23, 2019
The league is going through a transformative time. It has a new logo for the first time since 2013. It has an exclusive TV deal with CBS Sports Network. It also has multi-year marquee partnership with AT&T, making the global communications and technology company the first non-apparel partner to have its logo featured on the front of all 12 team jerseys throughout the league.
Said WNBA Commissioner Christy Hedgpeth: “The WNBA is reasserting itself as a bold, progressive league that stands for the power of women. “This new voice will amplify our mission of empowerment and inspiration and will magnify what makes our league exceptional – the strength, diversity, and multi-dimensionality of the women of the W.”
Never before has it been so robust, popular, confident and representative of its true self. The Liberty and Rapsody’s collabo reflect the rebranding that is in effect.
Rapsody born and raised in North Carolina is a veteran of the hip-hop game, who has earned acclaim from the likes of Jay-Z, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. I sat down with her during the team’s Media Day at the Hill Center at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, to politik with the emcee about how she created the anthem, her New York influence and more.
The Shadow League: How did you end up being chosen to construct the new anthem?
Rapsody: I got a phone call from a friend of a friend and she asked me how I feel about doing a theme song for the Liberty. Basically in a nutshell that was it. I felt like I could capture the essence of New York and make something for New York that they would feel and appreciate.
I wanted to bring my gifts and talents and shine a light on the amazing players in the game right now. Create something that really spoke for them but was authentic and real hip-hop…that didn’t feel like some corporate old jazzy commercial. Nah it’s gotta feel like NY, it’s got to feel like the Liberty…it’s got to feel like the streets, it’s got to feel like something that fans can connect to and feel like this really represents where I’m from. It’s not just about the game, it’s about NY City ..I can play it at the game and get hype or I can ride down the street to it. Over the bridges. All of your bridges, through the five boroughs.
The Shadow League: You’re a native of Snow Hill, North Carolina, the New York influence is evident in your lyricism.
Rapsody: I’m back and forth to NY all the time. I started coming to New York in 2001. I got family in the Bronx in Co-Op city and of course for music and business. I’m signed to Roc Nation so I’m always up here.
TSL: Talk about how you’re able to capture the essence of the NY sound and take us through the process of creating the anthem.
Rapsody: I grew up watching New York on television. I’m inspired by a lot of New York hip-hop artists. Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, Biggie, Nas, ATCQ, Fugees, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Mos Def, Talib Kweli… I’m influenced a lot by NY hip-hop so musically I knew what New York was.
I studied and listened to it so much, so the process was… first I had to capture the sound of NY before I broke anything down. I had to be gritty. It had to be street. Those drums had to be banging, They had to be boom bap drums. That’s the essence of New York basketball. At the same time, it’s way bigger than basketball.
TSL: What was the message you tried to relay?
Not to bring a man into it, but in the same way that LeBron stated, “I’m more than an athlete”, NY Liberty hoops is more than a game. It’s about people and community and they have a message about social justice and gender equality and being a voice and part of the community.
This is something the WNBA has always been doing and it was a part of their brand before hashtags made it popular… so it had to be part of the music. So I just took those notes and everything that had to do with that and the WNBA’s new mantra of “Be loud and stay loud” …be a voice and never let that part of your light dim. So I added that, but I also put my flair into what NY represented for me.
So in the anthem, you gonna’ here references to the Roc and references to Illmatic and the Fugees, the concrete jungle. You gonna hear those sprinkles because it’s not just about the game it’s about community and I just wanted the players to feel it, the energy of it and also the streets to feel it lyrically.
TSL: What was the immediate feedback from players?
Rapsody: I saw a lot of them today and they said they loved it. They rock with it. They like the lyrics and the hook, “NY, NY, NY” is catchy so I think they are vibing to it. When I heard it for the first time in the gym at the practice facility, I was like ‘wow it belongs here.’
TSL: You’ve always been very empowering and authentic with your craft. The New WNBA attitude and direction — loud and proud — coincides with the authenticity in your music. So that connection was a perfect fit too right?
Rapsody: Everything is about culture. It’s got to be authentic. People know when it’s contrived and it’s corporate driven and fake. You got to make it real and whatever your brand is, you have to stay true to that. Every team, every organization has to figure out just what’s our message. What are we trying to say? What do we represent? And really speak that.
Not trying to make something that’s cool or trendy or copy what somebody else is doing. You just have to stay true to you. I think that translates. People can feel realness through anything. Through anything you selling them, people connect with stuff that’s real, because we all live real lives.
The WNBA says its “making space for our game, our players and our fans to shine and show the world who we really are – badass ballers and dynamic women who challenge convention and shape culture.”
The essence of Rapsody and the new Liberty anthem captures that message to perfection