Legendary Philadelphia hip hop group The Roots released motivational anthem “Champion” ahead of the 2016 NBA Finals.
At its core, “Champion” is a song about overcoming and rising to the top. As it explains in the chorus, it’s not good enough to simply say you’re a champion. You have to back it up and show why you deserve to be called that.
The track starts with a brief monologue discussing what success is. According to The Roots, success is never giving up. The rest of the song follows the definition that has been established.
Look at me, I’m nocturnal, I don’t sleep
My eyes heavy, bags and crow’s feet
But I won’t be stopped, I go from tragedy to majesty
The victory has been woven into my tapestry
The Roots have had varied degrees of success over the years (tragedy to majesty). However, that doesn’t stop them from grinding all night to ensure that whatever they do next will be successful.
For the rest of “Champion,” The Roots don’t deviate from the theme of success. To keep things fresh, they throw in a few basketball references to fit the occasion of the track (“A lesson in a blessing out of each and every L, I ball”; “Been trailblazing my name into the book that / Represent all the champs who had a chance and took that”).
It’s interesting to note that the song is mostly spoken, instead of sung. Besides the chorus, there are few hints of a melody. Yet, the vivacious beat aided by enthusiastic piano notes, drums, and trumpets makes the listener forget that and accompanies the different voices smoothly.