What does a 6″10 former Auburn basketball player do in his spare time?
Anything he wants.
Fortunately for Auburn fans relishing the recent flood of Auburn rap, former Tiger hoopster Francis Aihe wanted to give back to his alma mater with a free download of “Orange Navy,” a remake of Wiz Khalifa’s Pittsburgh (Steelers) pride anthem “Black and Yellow.” He recorded the tribute to the 2010 Auburn Tigers less than two weeks ago and posted it online Saturday night after the SEC Championship. It’s already received considerable attention, perhaps because it’s the first Auburn rap song since T-Will’s “Tiger Walk” that is just that – an Auburn rap, rather than another hip hop paean to Cam Newton (who is placed in his proper team context with just a single line).
Perhaps, also, because it’s pretty good.
Aihe was recruited out of Sante Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida and played basketball for Auburn in 2008 before being placed on medical hardship his senior year. He graduated this summer and is currently doing grad work in rehab counseling at Alabama State.
TWER connected with the gentle giant – known in the studio as Young IE (a phonetic-ish spelling of his last name) – to get his thoughts on Auburn’s season, the current state of Auburn rap (like all of them, he’s never heard of the others), and Auburn’s Heisman winner in waiting, whom he knew back in the day.
[Full disclosure: to my shame, I had no idea he used to play basketball for Auburn until the interview.]
Why’d you come to Auburn?
I’m originally from Orlando, Florida and I wasn’t really too big on basketball growing up but when I started growing it just kind of grew on me. One of my teammates was the son of a guy who played at Auburn in the 70s, Stan Pietkiewicz, and used to hear him talk about his glory days and always thought it’d be cool to visit Auburn one day. I went to junior college for two years but when I came into Auburn I fell in love with the place. Auburn is just a great place.
What was your best game?
The best game I probably played was when we played Alabama. Statistically you really couldn’t see it but we were getting killed and Kovotney Barber was in foul trouble. Everybody was in foul trouble and coach put me in and I had to play the final stretch, and they could have easily just gone up by 25 or whatever. But I went in there and played tough and we made up for lost ground. We actually came back to win that game and came in 2nd in the SEC West. That game was big for me.
What do you think of Coach Barbee?
Coach Barbee is a great guy. Despite how Auburn has started off I can almost promise that he’s going to turn it around. He’s a stand up a guy. I had a few encounters with him before I left and they were always positive. He was always encouraging me to finish up and graduate.
So why’d you record “Orange Navy”?
I had the song “Black and Yellow” in my mind and I was always a fan of that song and I think about a week and half ago, you know, what with the Auburn football team doing so good, I thought they deserved their own version of that. I know a lot of those guys personally. I wanted to find a way to give back to them, even though I wasn’t physically there. And some of them have let me know they like it. Antoine Carter hit me up today and said he likes the song a lot and appreciated the time I took to make it.
Have you heard any of the other Auburn raps out there right now?
No, actually I haven’t. Yesterday someone wrote me and said I should check out T-Will’s video and I thought that was pretty good. I knew some of the guys that actually produced that track and I though it was pretty cool for them to do something like that.
Are we going to win it all?
I mean, it feels like this team is just a team of destiny. I know Coach Chizik is going to have them mentally and physically prepared. I like our chances. Let them go out there and take care of business. The funny thing is, before I graduated this summer, about in January, I was talking to a lot of those guys and they were happy where they were with finishing up last season, but for some reason there was some kind of buzz about ‘man, just wait till next year.’ Some guys were contemplating the NFL draft but it was like ‘man, I’m stayin’ cause next year is going to be crazy.’ I was just like, ‘man, you guys think feel like y’all are going to have a really good year.’ I remember me and Craig Stevens talking about it and he said ‘man, I got a great feeling about next year.’ To actually see it come to pass is awesome. Those guys had their minds focused in spring.
What do you think of Cam?
I think Cam is obviously an exciting player. A funny thing actually, I met Cam when I was at junior college in Florida. I was good friends with the Florida basketball players down there when they had those two championships and I used to run into Cam all the time. I talked to him a couple of times at Auburn before I left. Cam is the man. He sets the tone. He sets the bar higher every week.
Are you the tallest rapper in the world?
Ha… maybe. I guess someone has to be.