Why the Philadelphia Union Partnered With Local Hip-Hop Artists for Unique Promos

Union - Philadelphia

Sports imagery.

A fighting spirit.

Soulful hip-hop artists.

Throw in some cheesesteaks, and the Philadelphia Union may have had the most quintessential Philly promotional videos ever during the Major League Soccer season.

The Union played their way into the knockout round of this year’s MLS playoffs before going down, 3-1, against New York City FC. In the build-up to the postseason, however, the Union digital team released a hype video that would give any fan who loves the City of Brotherly Love chills.

The video, which has now garnered well over 70,000 views, features a Philadelphia hip-hop legend in Freeway. Some music fans may recognize some of the Roc Nation rapper’s hits like “Flipside” and “What We Do from a few years back. Nowadays, when Freeway isn’t making music, he serves as an ambassador for the Union, as well as the rest of Philly culture. Naturally, as Union Marketing Coordinator Alyssa Gentile can attest, Freeway was ready to be the hype man his team and fans needed to get excited about a potential playoff run.

“He was all about it,” Gentile said of Freeway’s reaction to the idea of the video. “He also did the video for our Open Cup final about a month and a half prior. He’s about anything that’s pro-Philly. From a production standpoint, he was stoked when we showed him the script. He brought total energy and awesome vibes into that video. He was pretty pumped.”

Freeway wasn’t the only name in Philly hip-hop that the Union collaborated with for their 2018 playoff campaign. OddKidOut (a Drexel University Alum and Skrillex signee) teamed up with Bri Steves — plus vocals on the hook from the BlumBros — for a playoff song for the team called “Ball + Win.

Both Steves and OddKidOut are rapidly picking up steam as artists, with Steves’ song “Jealousy” landing fairly high on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B Airplay chart in the last few weeks and OddKidOut’s recent EP “Solstice” turning heads as well.

Gentile explained how this song came to be and how it reflects the Union’s overall embrace of local talent as an organization.

“We decided to bring some Philly artists together and create a song for the team around playoffs. OddKidOut did the beat, Bri wrote some verses. They mixed it all together and then we ended up with the final product. We really embrace our relationships with local influencers, whether it’s fashion, music, or entertainment. We’re about growing Philly, and I think you see that in our team’s roster as well. We’re all about homegrowns — folks that are from our backyard that have made it or are making their own way, and these artists definitely reflect that.”

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Moving ahead, expect the Union to pursue more of these types of partnerships that encapsulate the spirit of the city in future content.

Frankly, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if other MLS clubs followed suit next season.

“As I said, we want to partner with folks from Philly that that are paving their own way,” Gentile added. “We’d like to enhance and extend those type of partnerships. We’re willing to work with anyone who’s excited about soccer, growing the game in Philadelphia and doing really cool, out-of-the-box things.”