He ended up creating the soundtrack to a recharged atmosphere around Antioch High’s Eells Stadium.
Rivera, uncle of Panthers’ senior lineman Tory Ramirez, is a part of local rap group Dark Cyde. Ramirez asked Rivera if he could use his talents to give the football team an anthem; something to announce their presence with authority.
For Antioch, which holds a 5-0 record for the first time in 15 years, the song has united the team behind a common message. The Panthers blast it from the rafters when they come back onto the field after halftime.
“It pumps the whole team up,” senior running back Deante Mays said. “When we feel that music coming, we just get pumped up, we get ready for action, to go down the field and hit somebody.”
But for Ramirez and Rivera, the lyrics hold a deeper meaning. Rivera feels the track is one of the first meaningful gifts he’s been able to give his nephew.
Better known within Dark Cyde as Mas, Rivera admits that he’s spent roughly a third of his 35 years of life incarcerated. Drugs begat crime, which created a vicious cycle. While Rivera often made promises of presents, of a new lifestyle, of being there for birthday parties, they rarely materialized – choices he regrets now.
While behind bars, Rivera started penning bars. As he was going through the recovery process, he met Tim Langley and Jeff Wiebens, fellow musicians taking a positive detour from the negative lifestyle. They formed Dark Cyde and started crafting songs about recovery and the joy of life. Rapping has been an important step in Rivera’s quest to get his life together.
Ramirez noted that while the relationship between him and his uncle was never frosty, Rivera wasn’t around much. This project has helped to bridge that gap. Ramirez has also noticed the profound effect that music has made on Rivera’s life.
“It’s never like I’ve had any trouble with him or anything,” Ramirez said. “I took (the song) as a gift and him giving back. It was like he really stuck to his word and made something happen with it.”
Now sober and employed for roughly four years, Rivera figured the best way to right some wrongs was to write. When Ramirez approached his uncle about the song, Rivera thought it was a great way not only to make some more music, but finally come through for his nephew.
Ramirez started jotting down teammates’ names, nicknames, positions, references to rival teams and other things he thought would be cool to hear in the song, such as Antioch’s 56-0 season-opening victory over Gregori of Modesto.
“I just gave him a little bit,” Ramirez said, “and he ran with it.”
After the Panthers toppled Napa on Sept. 23, Rivera texted Ramirez late at night, letting him know the song – “It’s the Anthem” – was finished. Ramirez was so excited, he couldn’t wait for the next day. Rivera came over immediately, even though it was around midnight, so his nephew could hear it for the first time.
As soon as Ramirez popped the CD into his laptop, Rivera knew he’d done the right thing. “It was an amazing feeling to know that for the first time in 17 years, I was the source of the genuine smile on that kid’s face,” Rivera said. “It almost brought tears to my eyes.”
The song, which made its debut in a Sept. 30 game against Mt. Diablo, opens with a clip from Mr. T, growling, “I’m gonna hit you so hard, I’m gonna knock you into next week.” It continues, extolling the prowess of senior wideout Josh Oseguera, senior lineman Nic Reyes, senior quarterback Troy Amate and other teammates. There are messages for Bay Valley Athletic League rivals Deer Valley, Liberty, Pittsburg and Heritage as well.
But Rivera’s lyric that starts at the 1:16 mark might be the most meaningful: “Hey, nephew, here’s a little something I’ve promised./Sorry that it’s late, but I promise it’s the bombest.”
Listen to "It's the Anthem," by clicking here.