Fiery "Illini Anthem" Music Video Released

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The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Music celebrates its evolution with a new tradition and an infectious hip-hop sound, successfully bridging the cultural divide while showing people how to have a good time. The Marching Illini’s Low Brass Cheer is a blues riff that has been played during Illini Football games for decades. Professor Lamont Holden took the instrumentation and added some Drumline-like snares, following the Atlantic sequencing formula to create the Illini Anthem.

Illinois alumni, Jarrel Young and Professor Holden, also known as TheLetterLBeats, linked up to make a sensational anthem that is inspiring a movement. The song’s message was originally for the university’s sports teams, but its impact has transcended the university’s confines, evoking positive energy that bleeds into surrounding neighborhoods. The University of Illinois has become the desired location for education and self-discovery, producing graduates that make notable contributions to society.  

“Other kids from the C-U community who look like me can see from their own eyes that you can be anything you wanna be. The Illini Anthem just broke an old cycle and created a new one all at once. My take on the Illini Anthem reminds me of a “New Wave. It was an honor to be a part of history. Being the first rap/hip-hop fight song to represent a Big 10 University is monumental. Being from Champaign, this anthem hits home for me”, states Jarrel Young.

Directed by Chad “Boots” Howard, the visual perfectly demonstrates how higher education is embracing people of color. It also illustrates the sincere commitment the University of Illinois School of Music has made to recruiting more diverse musicians and meeting their needs. Under Professor Lamont Holden’s direction, the music program has offered new courses in songwriting, music business, beatmaking and podcasting. The program has also added Computer Science + Music and Music Technology degrees and is on the precipice of more course offerings that speak to forging a career in the commercial music industry.

In anticipation of the anthem’s release later this month, Clinical Assistant Professor of Audio & Recording Technologies Lamont Holden said, “The anthem speaks to the music programs’ efforts to create an ecosystem of musical success.”

When Professor Holden returned to the Champaign-Urbana area in 2012, he had a vision. After working with Chicago artist Young General who wrote an anthem dedicated to the White Sox, he knew if he could create the right beat and find the right artist, he could craft an anthem for a concentrated audience in another part of the state: Illini nation. 

Holden was determined to keep moving the needle forward for the School of Music with more innovation and opportunity. His professional relationship with an industry innovator resulted in the University of Illinois School of Music’s collaboration with DJ Burn One. MUS 499 Music Monetization is a course that branches off from Burn One’s production Masterclass called Options. 

MUS 499 Music Monetization was necessary because students were itching to find more viable and diverse post-graduation streams of income as professional musicians. The course’s objective is to give students the blueprint to achieve success in the music industry. Students with the ability to play instruments are shown how to create, market and sell sample packs in addition to selling beats to artists. Additionally, they will learn how to get registered with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO). Another perk is DJ Burn’s One’s keen ear for authentic musicality. Burn One has opened himself and his Five Points Bakery production team to collaborate with talented students. 

For the summer of 2022, the Illinois Summer Youth Music program will continue its legacy of providing a learning and development platform for over 1000 aspiring youth musicians. Under the tutelage of a diverse group of experienced music educators, youth from grades 6-12 will participate in a week of intense music-making. For the fifth year, ISYM Hip Hop Camp led by Professor Holden and Professor Adam J. Kruse will help aspiring Hip Hop based youth musicians develop their craft by facilitating spaces for them to make their own beats, write their own original songs and perform them on-stage at the campus’ legendary Canopy Club which has hosted acts like Maroon 5, Tinashe, Wu Tang and Snoop Dogg. ISYM Hip Hop Camp will be on campus at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign June 26 - July 2. Parents, students and teachers can get more information and register students at

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