ST. PETERSBURG — The bloated payroll teams never heard the beat, were too arrogant to listen to the sound of the Rays cruising to glory. But here in St. Petersburg, it's the tune everyone's been talking about; a sweet melody of victory that's been reverberating through the domed ceiling of Tropicana Field as the Rays rose from dead last to No. 1.
Rays fans not only heard the beat, they lived it. One line said it all:
Let me get a handclap for the Tampa Bay Rays, let me get a handclap for the Tampa Bay Rays!
When the packed crowd heard that last weekend, the Trop erupted in applause. The fans wildly clapped the Rays toward their first playoff appearance ever. That "handclap line," as it's now known, is the catchiest lyric in a new Rays-themed rap song, appropriately titled It's Our Season. The beat embodies what Rays fans have been waiting for since the franchise was established.
James "Bay Boi" Peoples, 20, Davie "Big Gill" Gill, 31, and Herman "Cristol" Grant, 27, three St. Petersburg rappers, put the song together earlier this year. Since then, the tune has been broadcast repeatedly at the stadium and has coincided with the Rays' increasing win-to-loss ratio.
"Before they first played the song a few months back, the Rays were on a seven-game losing streak. Then they played It's Our Season during the seventh-inning stretch, and I swear the next guy hit a home run," boasted Grant. "We definitely did something, because since then, they've just been winning."
The Rays management loved the song and discovered the trio through an in-house DJ at Tropicana Field.
"The DJ noticed them performing at the (Push Ultra Lounge) club nearby," said Darcy Raymond, vice president of branding and fan experience for the Rays. "We heard the song and thought it had a really catchy beat, so we started playing it at games about two months ago. The players are into it and really appreciate it and the fans love it."
The Rays then asked the rappers to produce a music video to go along with the song. The roughly four-minute video, now on YouTube, features the three rapping inside and around Tropicana Field. According to Darcy, the song "embodies what it means to be a Rays fan."
The main lyrics capture the self-assured way the Rays marched to the playoffs: "Tampa Bay, it's our season. You think it ain't? Come try and beat 'em!" Peoples, who wrote those lines, explained, "The main hook just came to me like magic when I heard the beat."
The song also incorporates the names of Rays players and celebrates the team's very fast rise.
The idea originated with Gill, a 6-foot-9, 345-pound bouncer who works at Push Ultra Lounge. "I've been a die-hard fan since the Rays started as the Devil Rays," he said. "I knew this would be the year."
Since Gill is admittedly not a skilled rapper, he went to his friend Grant, a frequent performer at Push. "My boy Big Gill just came up to me and said, 'If the Rays have a good season, we'll have to make a song for them,' " Grant said.
From there, Gill and Grant added Peoples to form a trio and began recording at a makeshift studio in Grant's mother's house. "I made the beat. When you come up with the beat, the beat will tell you what to say," Grant explained. "The beat was telling me that this is Rays time, it's our time finally! That had to come through."
Since then, the three have become favorites at Tropicana Field. Fans eagerly await the famous "handclap line" toward the end of the song, when they "really get wild," Grant said.
For Gill, the reaction from friends has been mostly positive, but many were surprised by his involvement. "All my friends are like, 'Since when can you rap? I didn't know you can rap.' "
The tune also caught the attention of radio station WILD 98.7 FM, where it's getting airplay.
"We backed up the song because we wanted to support the team," said Orlando Davis, program director for WILD. "We play it whenever we mention the Rays or when they do well."
The success of It's Our Season was totally unexpected, said Grant. "I never really imagined the song being played at the stadium. I thought the song would just be played at the clubs where the Rays go to."
The rappers made the video solely to inspire the players and entertain fans of their favorite team, but in the end they received an unexpected reward — free front-row tickets to the last few games of the season. "When I used to see the Rays years ago, I had the nosebleed seats. Now I'm sitting up-close, dugout range," Grant said. The group is optimistic about obtaining playoff tickets as well.
And don't think you've seen the end of Bay Boi, Cristol and Big Gill. Just as they wrote Rays fans' enthusiasm into energetic rap lyrics, they may do the same for another local team.
"A lot of my friends have been asking us to make a song for the Buccaneers," hinted Grant. "I'm a Bucs fan; we just might make that happen."