Published January 24th, 2020 at 6:00 AM
The Chiefs are back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years, and if the music is truly an aural reflection of our times, Kansas Citians are overjoyed. From hip hop to the blues, from polka to jazz, here are six homegrown fight songs that reflect on rosters, some serious fandom, and how the cultural conversation has changed since Super Bowl IV.
Kansas City-born rapper Tech N9ne is a well-known supporter of area teams. The 48-year-old chopper-style, hardcore rapper could be seen sitting behind home plate during the pair of Royals World Series runs in 2014 and 2015, during which he released “KCMO Anthem”. Tech’s hit single “Hood Go Crazy” featuring 2 Chainz and B.O.B. closely followed and went where no other Tech N9ne hit had gone before, leaping to No. 90 on the Billboard Hot 100. Unlike other recent odes to the Chiefs, Tech’s track dropped ahead of the team’s 2019 AFC Championship loss against the Patriots. This time around the Chiefs lived up to “Red Kingdom’s” chugga-chugga trap beat and Tech’s behind-the-mic hype.
Just 72 hours after the Chiefs clinched their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years, Mac Lethal, a KC rapper and former collaborator with Tech N9ne, dropped a Chiefs track of his own, titled “Kansas City Chiefs Anthem 2020”. The video garnered more than 35,000 views in its first five hours — a viral showing not at all unfamiliar to Lethal, who made appearances on CNN and “The Ellen Show” after his ultra-quick, quirky raps gained a solid YouTube following. He finishes the nearly three-minute rap over “The Chop” with 49 seconds of breathless bars (literally).
Kansas City pop group Yes You Are takes as much pride in the Chiefs as it does in constantly redefining the genre. Like “Red Kingdom”, “Chiefs Kingdom Comin’” popped up in January of 2019 in a DIY fan music video, which features front woman Kianna Alarid grooving in front of the glowing red and yellow Kansas City Downtown Marriott Hotel. The track is certainly catchy, running up and down the Chiefs’ talented Super Bowl-bound roster, sandwiching a change-of-pace Alarid rap verse that opens, “Remember when you thought we were nothing?”
Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and gay rights activist Melissa Etheridge woke up victory Monday and called the “Dan Patrick Show” with a little diddy for her hometown titled — perhaps still unbelieveably to some — “Chiefs are Going to the Super Bowl”. The bluesy, acoustic phone jam covers everything from California weed, to the franchise’s 50-years of woes, to the Chiefs’ choice to trade up for Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Led by aging Joe Montana and Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen, the 1993 Chiefs were the last squad without a guy named Mahomes to knock on the Super Bowl’s door. Released on New Year’s Day 1993, The Step Brothers’ “Schottenheimer Polka” is an accordion-happy, traditional polka nod to head coach Marty Schottenheimer. The late pass rusher Derrick Thomas probably bopped to, “Defense pumped up to the max, they’re such a rowdy bunch, Derrick n’ Neil, wheelin’ dealin’, eat the QB’s lunch..”
American jazz and cabaret singer Marilyn Maye recorded “Chiefs Are On the Warpath” following the club’s 1969 Super Bowl IV win over the Minnesota Vikings. The American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement honoree’s vocals, accompanied by the Tony DiPardo Orchestra’s tribal rhythm, certainly celebrates her team – though it wouldn’t pass muster in terms of political correctness by 2020 standards.
Chuck Haddix, the region’s premier musicologist and host of KCUR’s “Fish Fry”, offered the long view on the evolution of Chiefs songs.
The songs “reflect how times have changed,” Haddix noted. “Politically incorrect by today’s standards, ‘Chiefs Are On The Warpath’ hearkens back to the days when the Chiefs began each home game and celebrated touchdowns by having their mascot, the horse Warpaint, ridden by a Caucasian in Native American regalia complete with a war bonnet, take a turn around the field…The rapper Tech N9ne’s ‘Red Kingdom’ and rocker/gay rights activist Melissa Etheridge’s ‘Chiefs Are Going To The Super Bowl’ represent today’s diverse fan base. Like most Chiefs fans, they know that after 50 years the Chiefs going to the Super Bowl is something to sing about.”