If you’re worried you might forget about the trees, don’t be — Francis Aihe won’t let you.
Known in the studio as Young IE (a phonetic-esque spelling of his last name), the 6″10 former Auburn basketball player behind “Orange Navy,” the popular Auburn-ized version of Wiz Khalifa’s Pittsburgh (Steelers) pride anthem “Black and Yellow,” recently partnered with fellow Auburn — genre, not location — rapper Andrew Manheimmer, aka Yt, to record “Can’t Forget Our Tree (Toomer’s Corner),” a tribute to the recently poisoned Toomer’s Corner oaks.
“Me and Yt came together to do this and we definitely touched on both sides of what almost every Auburn person feels toward the situation and we kind of put a little spin on it,” Aihe. “It’s more of an upbeat song. It’s not a sad song.”
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 last summer and is currently doing grad work in rehab counseling at Alabama State. He met Mannheimer, who recorded 2008’s popular “Auburn Boys,” through mutual friends; he says that “Can’t Forget” just seemed like the right opportunity for the two to finally collaborate.
“I was getting ready to do the song just by myself, but a friend of mine called me and said ‘you always said you wanted to do a song with Yt’ and that this one would be a pretty good one to come together on and it just worked out perfectly,” Aihe says. “I called (Yt) and talked to him and he said he was coming to Auburn (Yt lives in Tallahassee) and it just worked out. He definitely did his thing on the song.”
In the second verse, Mannheimer raps about sprinting across Magnolia Avenue, stealing toilet paper from the Skybar bathroom (“I hate to admit it but sometimes I had to”) and rolling “that tree” when “the clock hit zero and the game was won,” when his friend got engaged, or just “when the semester was done.”
“I think it’s going to be a song Auburn people can really, really embrace,” Aihe says.
If his previous work is any indication, they will: “Orange Navy” is regularly played at Auburn baseball and softball games and Aihe says the song was recently named one of the top five versions / covers of “Black and Yellow” by a Virginia radio station. He’ll actually open for Wiz Khalifa April 22 at the Lambda Chi house.
Aihe and Mannheimer shot a video for the song Saturday afternoon at Toomer’s Corner. They invited Auburn fans to be in the video via Facebook and Twitter to join them.
“I just want to capture what happens there,” Aihe says. “When people see the video, I want them to think, ‘man, look what happened to them at Auburn but they’ve got good spirits.’ We’re still the Auburn family. We’re going to get past this. We’re still going to keep enjoying ourselves at Toomer’s Corner.”
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