Whether you’re chanting ‘It’s Coming Home’ in the stadium, or rapping John Barnes’ verse with Smithy and Gavin, it goes without saying that football anthems are integral to British football culture. So, after a year of silent stands and echoey stadiums, the release of England’s official anthem for the UEFA Euro 2020 competition could not be more welcome. Taking on the task of reuniting the beautiful game with sound is UK rap duo, Krept and Konan, alongside S1lva, M1llionz and Morrisson, with their release, Olé.
Over the years, we have seen football anthems released by a whole host of duos, from David Baddiel and Frank Skinner with the Lightning Seeds in 1996, Ant and Dec in 2002, to Dizzee Rascal and James Corden in 2012. Krept and Konan have created a sound reflecting ‘new times’, As Krept describes it, celebrating England and its diversity.
Uniting generations of football fans is the chant at the centre of the anthem, ‘Olé’ is a chant both Krept and Konan recall as being central to their childhood football experience in England. This nostalgia, fused with their witty bars featuring names of the England squad, is a winning combo:
“Who’s on Krept then/ Like man won’t check them/ When the ting rise [Rice] like Declan… Do it like Jadon/ Check the account/ See the amount/ Now they think Man a Mason.”
Not only does the anthem unite aspects of Britain lyrically, but musically, as it features an orchestra, recorded at Abbey Road Studios for the occasion. Although often overlooked, orchestral instrumentals are an integral aspect to UK Rap music, and Olé’s brassy punches and commanding strings unite the diverse music scene that can be found across England.
Not only does the anthem unite aspects of Britain lyrically, but musically, as it features an orchestra, recorded at Abbey Road Studios for the occasion
Recording their journey for a BBC Three documentary titled ‘Krept and Konan: We Are England’, the pair set out to incorporate a multifaceted England into the song, consulting Mancunian rapper Aitch on local lingo, discussing how it feels to play for England with manager Gareth Southgate, and what it means to proudly identify with both one’s non-white heritage and English nationality, with former England striker, Eniola Aluko.
“I’ve struggled with that for a long time because people question that you’re not fully English … But we’re multidimensional.”
The pair also discussed the pressure they feel in delivering England’s official anthem as two black rappers, in a society with a history of picking and choosing which elements of black culture it supports.
Speaking to Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings, one of the players to first orchestrate taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, they addressed the racist contradiction of fans who boo the taking of the knee, whilst cheering for black players who score goals.
Despite the progress that still needs to be made, Konan remains optimistic for the reception of the anthem, a song that pushes boundaries in the simple, yet poignant act of uniting the country’s diversity: “no matter who you are or where you’re from, we’re supporting England and the song should unite that as well”.
There is no doubt: Olé tackles the huge task of reflecting the multicultural, diverse England of today, and with the help of Krept and Konan, music and football can be harmoniously reunited again.
We hope for it to not only be the sound of the summer (after England wins the Euros, duh), but of future international football competitions to come.