KNOXVILLE — As quickly as University of Tennessee sophomore forward (and rapper) Renaldo Woolridge wrote, recorded and released his latest song, it became a YouTube hit.
In music, as in so many other facets of life, timing is key.
Woolridge — stage name “Swiperboy” — wrote a song about the recent drama in UT’s football program and named it, “Never Leave You Like Kiffin.”
Kiffin, of course, refers to Lane Kiffin, the head coach who left UT for Southern California after 14 turbulent months in Knoxville.
Woolridge’s friend and musical collaborator, whose stage name is simply “Micah,” sings the chorus. Woolridge raps the verses.
Here are the chorus lyrics: “Don’t talk, baby just listen. We can withstand, I’m a man on a mission. I ain’t goin’ nowhere, Shorty stop trippin.’ Baby girl, I will never leave you like Kiffin.’”
I spoke with Woolridge about the song after tonight’s practice in Thompson-Boling Arena.
As many of you know, Woolridge — the son of former NBA player Orlando Woolridge — is from California and starred as a high school player in the Los Angeles area. The 6-foot-8 wing nearly stayed home and attended college at Southern Cal, but he chose the Volunteers over offers from the Trojans, Georgetown and many others.
Many friends in Los Angeles have called Woolridge in the past week and teased him about “stealing your coach.”
Woolridge said his reply is always the same: “Uh, you didn’t take my coach.”
My conversation with Woolridge about the song is attached below. We talked about basketball, too, and much of that will be in my advance for eighth-ranked UT’s game at Georgia on Saturday. I’ll give you one nugget, though. Woolridge has started every game since UT suspended four scholarship players on Jan. 1, but he said freshman forward Kenny Hall might replace him in the first five at Georgia.
As for my thoughts on the song, it’s simply more proof (in my humble opinion) that Woolridge has plenty of musical ability. He recorded the song on his mobile studio, though, so the sound quality could be better. But like any journalist, I can appreciate how quickly Woolridge put pen to paper and produced a tune about a current event.
Here’s our chat about the song.
If you want to hear “Never Leave You Life Kiffin,” or any of Woolridge’s other songs, they’re easy to find on YouTube.
Q: What motivated you to write the Lane Kiffin song?
WOOLRIDGE: “A lot of people were talking about the situation on my twitter page. I was around when all the chaos happened the day he left, and there was just something in the back of my head. I had a lot of I kind of wanted to say about it. I really don’t have a stance or an opinion on it, but it was just kind of something like the elephant in the room that someone needed to say something about. I just felt that within my music that I could make something about it. I’m talking to a girl in the song, and I kind of just changed the whole theme — but at the same time, get the point across about basically what’s on everybody’s mind.”
Q: Are you surprised at how popular the song has become?
WOOLRIDGE: “Yeah. I’m shocked. Right now, it’s at like 65,000 (YouTube) views just in a few days. That’s kind of crazy, but at the same time, it’s cool that people are so into the school spirit — and also my music, too. I appreciate the support and everything. I think it’s been cool to turn out like it has.”
Q: How long did it take you to write and record that song? It was up there pretty quickly after that whole situation unfolded.
WOOLRIDGE: “It was 11:30 at night, I think Saturday night. I was with my friend Micah, who sings the hook. I told him, ‘We’re going to record a song,’ and he was like, ‘What about that one beat you made?’ I opened up the beat, and we started listening to it. After five minutes, something on TV came on about Kiffin, and I said, ‘Micah, you want to do something about this song? It’s going to be crazy, but I think we can do it.’ He said, ‘Let’s go,’ so I sat down and wrote the song in about 20 minutes, and we recorded it, and I put it out. It was a real quick process — kind of the spur of the moment type of thing — but I knew it might work.”
Q: So, I take it you’ve got a studio somewhere in your room?
WOOLRIDGE: “I have a studio setup in my room. It’s a mobile studio, so I can take it wherever. I take it with me when I go back home and everything. I’ve got my microphone, my computer, a keyboard, a studio program. It’s real handy. ...I love being able to take my studio anywhere, because you never know when something will hit you just like that, and you just have to sit down and record it.”
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