The story behind the Hawkeyes rap video

Published: December 16 2009 | 7:45 pm - Updated: 30 March 2014 | 3:47 pm in
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If you type the phrase “Hawkeyes Music Video” in YouTube’s search bar, what shows up first won’t be some slickly packaged University of Iowa highlights reel.

An Internet sensation of sorts was born on a whim in Cedar Rapids. The artist: Notti Boy. Real name: John Siemering. The video: A rap-music tribute to the Iowa football team shot and recorded entirely in Cedar Rapids.

It’s less than two minutes long, but it’s made an impact. It has surfaced on Web sites near and far, including The Sporting News and Deadspin. A portion of the "Hawkeyes" video aired on a local newscast last Friday night.

As of Wednesday night, the video and copies of it had been clicked on over 84,000 times, and it has only been on YouTube since Dec. 5.

“I told all my friends on Facebook,” 24-year-old Siemering said, “and they told their friends on Facebook, and they told their friends on Facebook.

“It’s crazy. My phone’s blowing up like a hurricane. On Saturday morning I was at the barbershop getting a haircut and they played it three times when I was there.”

The video has been praised by some, hated on by others. Among the locations used were an I-380 overpass and flooded-out sections of Time Check neighborhood. It isn’t a peppy anthem. But Cory Forbes, the video’s producer, theorizes why people have connected with it.

“I think the reason that it got so many plays in that amount of time is that the Hawkeyes did great this year,” Forbes said. “Also, this was a very positive song, Notti wasn’t rapping about fictional characters, drugs, alcohol, easy women or fighting with people, like half of these other artist do.

“Notti Boy is a very uniquely, creatively, respectful recording artist who has positive reinforcement from his city. That’s why I believe that it’s his time to shine.”

If nothing else, in my humble opinion, Notti Boy’s line “Stay fly like Hawk-eye” ought to replace “Go Hawks!” as the Iowa fan’s slogan of choice.

Siemering got Kinnick Stadium, Hayden Fry, Tim Dwight, Ricky Stanzi and Kirk Ferentz mentioned in his lyrics, though he mispronounces Ferentz’s last name for rhyming purposes.

Artistic license, you know.

He wrote the song when Iowa was unbeaten and ranked fourth in the BCS standings.

“It was just a song for the Hawkeyes, I was so proud of them,” Siemering said. “After I made the song, they started to drop, but it didn’t matter to me.”

He was persuaded to turn the song into a video, which Forbes of Cedar Rapids’ C4 Productions shot and edited in three days.

“I started making music when I was 14,” said Siemering, who earns most of his income from construction framing. “I’ve been rapping since I was like 10.”

I know I’m not exactly writing for rap’s target audience, so you’ll have to go on faith that opening for Yo Gotti in Davenport and Yung Joc in Iowa City were good past gigs for Notti Boy.

But then one day you’re 24, you slap a video on YouTube, and your world changes.

“We were just messing around pretty much,” Siemering said. “I didn’t think it would be this big. Then it was on the news, and things got crazy. I think I had my first panic attack. I didn’t know if I was scared or excited. My hands were shaking, my blood was pumping. I was in the interrogation room.”

Again, artistic license.

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