Making its return from a traditional four-year hiatus, the Olympics are back once again! This prestigious ceremony is the ultimate arena where athletes from all sports—ranging from basketball, track & field, and swimming just to name a few—come together from all around the globe to claim world dominance in their field.
We got a chance to sit down with rapper B.o.B.—in the midst of promoting his new album Strange Clouds, which is in stores today!—and Marc Roberge, frontman of rock group O.A.R., to discuss their new 2012 Olympics anthem “Champions.” The song is in collaboration with Duracell as part of its Rely on Copper to Go for the Gold Olympic Games program. It gives consumers a portal to provide encouragement for the athletes through videos, pictures and texts as they train and compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
In this double interview, the two musicians broke down how the song came about, what the Olympics means to them personally, and how far they plan on taking this song (live performance at Olympics Games possibly?) Let’s go Team USA!
VIBE: The Olympics is such a big thing for world culture in general. How did this song come about?
Marc Roberge: You know basically you get a phone call that says their looking for a track. Their looking for a song to embody not just the spirit of the Olympics but the whole thing. You including your sound in the Olympics is one thing and you want it to sound like the Olympics, like personify in some way and thats a tough thing to do because you can sit there and try to, I guess when you try to make an uplifting so and try to hard it comes off corny. With this track I honestly felt it was written from a place of true hunger, I mean it was written with the intent of expressing the fact that in this business or in this life you got to be hungry to get what you want, you gotta work for it and that what the song was written for. It was written for a brand, so that was easy and it easily matched up and it easily work and it sounded like the Olympics I felt when I watched the Olympics on TV, it sounded the way it makes me feel when they are handing out medals to people. SO it came up real quick. They called looking for a track and we just kind of through this chorus at them, like what about this? And everyone just fell in love with it and BOB jumped on the track and added the absolute important ingredient of this collaboration needed. It kind of went quickly and that’s a really good sign.
B.o.B.: It really started with Duracell wanting the song to represent the dedication and that passion and commitment that is put into training for the Olympics. So this opportunity presented the chance to meet a lot of Olympians and for me that’s something that I never got a chance to do my whole life and probably something I would have never gotten to do. The song came about in a creative way because of that and for me I like doing different things I haven’t done before so this really gave me another opportunity as a musician to continue to leave my mark on the music industry the same way an Olympian athlete wants to leave their mark on the Olympics, so it everyone shares a common passion whether it be in the arts or in martial arts.
What was it like working together?
Marc: Ah man it was amazing working with [B.o.B.]. I’ve only produced a few sessions in my career so far and I’m just getting started doing that and to be able to sit there and watch somebody that’s been doing it long enough to know what to do but still has the hunger of somebody who has just started and I think that as long as you can maintain that hunger, matched with incredible skill it’s just the perfect combination. We did a few takes, we didn’t sit there and comb through it all day and all night because he had it. It’s like he’s got that “thing”. It’s not just the rap and it’s not just writing and that’s what really impressed me about this artist was that he had a lot more than just one way of doing things and that’s what I’ve tried to do my whole career is just really try new things and try to do them well and not be afraid, and that is something I saw immediately is that it was all about the vibe, it was all about the song and that moment and the session. It wasn’t about any other shit and that I respect and that’s what I’m looking for in people to work with in this business is folks like me who want to work and want to appreciate what they get from the work and that’s pretty much BOB.
B.o.B.: Even though it’s a big record and it’s something that will be heard by millions, it’s something we just really kicked back like any other session making a song. It was like it was meant to be this almost which is crazy because they had the song for a while but it’s the perfect song. It’s like when you listen to it you can just see the Olympic torch being lit.
Any funny studio moments or stories that you can share with us?
B.o.B.: Naw man it was actually real chill. The whole time it was really quick process. Everybody knows what they are doing. The band, the lead singer, song writing, it all really came in a fluent manner and that’s hard to come by. That’s why I feel it’s meant to happen because the natural-ness in making the record.
How far do you plan on taking this movement? Is this something you will perform at the Olympics? How far will it go?
Marc: I do think there will be a performance element at the Olympics. I don’t know what they styled in for it yet but i think we will be going over to London to do something and I’m sure were going to meet this summer and do this thing out in the amphitheatre somewhere. We got a big tour coming, he got a tour in the works, I can’t imagine were not going to get together and do the song. But I tell you what the more and more we listen to it, and we just performed it getting ready to do vendors night, I see this thing going and having a life. I see this having a life beyond the summer Olympic, I see it having a life beyond that. Hopefully people can connect with it, that’s all we really want. At the end of the day you write a song, you want someone to connect to it so I do think that can happen.
B.o.B.: You never know man, I know for them this is a song that they have had for a while and I’m pretty sure they feel good about it but they might not have seen the song being what it is now so it’s not telling where it can go but hopefully it will reach as many people as possible because I’m pretty sure a lot of people out there who feel the way that we feel and happy gladiators in the efforts of what that means to people and can relate.
Can you talk about the Duracell Virtual stadium and how it works? And how involved you are in it?
B.o.B.: So basically the virtual stadium is a thing where people can go on to Facebook and leave a message and it will all be combined into a virtual stadium.
So it’s like an Interactive thing with the fans?
B.o.B.: Exactly! Technology is crazy now a days—you can do so much. I think this song is dope because it’s combining so many things that technology can do, the Olympics athletes, me BOB, OAR, Duracell it’s just the whole thing to make this to rely on the copper or go gold and that’s what it’s all about really. It’s real simple and to the point but it’s so much bigger than that.
If you could pick one sport to excel in the Olympics what would it be and why?
B.o.B.: If I could pick one sport to excel in the Olympics, I would probably choose to be a sprinter. As I kid I always wanted to run fast and I would see Michael Johnson running and I would be like man I wish I was that fast, but I wasn’t that fast [Laughs]!
What does the Olympics mean to you guys?
Marc: What does it mean to me? I don’t care who you are, or maybe it’s just me, but when I listen to the Olympics it just takes me back to being a kid. I don’t know why that is, maybe because it’s summer, maybe it’s because you were out of school once every four years and you got to watch the summer Olympics but it means the world and the second you get involved in something like that it’s something you always wish you could do. It’s like when I head K’nan song for the World Cup, I was like man I want to do a song for the Olympics and then when this happened its almost like your realizing a dream not from just being a musician but from being a kid. You want to be involved in this and if you can’t be an athlete, which I can’t, I can do the music.
B.o.B.: For me it’s all about the fight, it’s mastering yourself to be the best and perform the best you can possibly perform. You can’t blame an obstacle on your failure. The obstacle is there for you to conquer it and get over the obstacle. So blaming an obstacle is really taking the power away from yourself so to me to be an Olympian is to master ones self and be able to perform at a optimum level which is something I strive to so everyday.