In the studio, the “leaders” muttered over and over, hoping to find a catchy, catchy phrase to complete the hook. But nothing seems right. In the end, for reasons that still puzzled him, he exclaimed, “Left hand! Who are we? Leaders!”
Later, at his home in Capitol Heights, he played the demo for his wife, Chaquita. I asked why he said “left hand up”. After all, most people are right-handed.
Early on, Woody and his nephew Wayne Sellers, the 25-year-old security guard who sings in the third verse, promoted the song on their social media profiles. Slowly, she gained a wider audience, and was mostly derided. But during the fall, feelings changed. The music videos they made went viral. Talk show hosts praised the tune to audiences in the hundreds of thousands. DJ The Wizards spin it at Capital One Arena. Company created Left Hand Up T-shirts for $28 each. Midfielder Taylor Heinecke puts his left hand up during an interview. Before a game earlier this month, Celerse was at FedEx Field and had many fans gushing with visceral reactions to the song, shooting with their left hands in the air or racing for selfies.
The reception stunned the sellers. Usually, Woody’s YouTube posts get around 100 views. The video for “Commanders Song” recently surpassed 107,000 views.
“I didn’t expect that,” Woody said. “Where we are now, I had no idea…. This is, like, pretty amazing. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Sellers said that during the meteoric rise, it was their dream to have the team they’ve loved their entire lives play their song at FedEx Field. Most recently, the leaders invited them to perform it in their next home game, on November 27 against Atlanta.
Sellers will be there. Wayne plans a vacation from his seasonal job as a lobby security guard at FedEx Field.
“We’re done transgression.”
Sellerses represent a large part of the leaders fanbase that has survived the past 20 years: the Black community at the DMV. Their track delves into the nostalgia that has gone on to keep many fans afloat, but it’s more than just requiem. It provides an intergenerational connective tissue for a franchise that tells fans time and time again, despite his new nameIt’s not an expansion team.
The anthem never mentions embattled team owner Daniel Snyder, and his only agenda, as Woody sings, is to “tell you something about some good fans.” The result is the first popular piece of grassroots culture leaders.
The rapper combines a rich heritage and a complex present with symbolic verses. Woody’s final-rhyme rap, the crowd-pleasing style popular in his glory days, as he references the Hogs, John Riggins, Doug Williams, and Joe Gibbs. Wayne is a modern autotonian, and though he’s fulfilling the high hopes of his childhood grandchildren, Santana Moss and Albert Haynesworth, the yearning for success in his time is evident in the lines: “You know what I want: Super Bowl on my mind. We got three episodes, but I think we’re Need nine episodes.”
“I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, that’s what I wanted you to do,’” Woody said, laughing. “It’s just because this is my time, this is our time. I can remember Super Bowl where [Doug Williams threw four touchdowns]. He lingered, lost in the memory of watching the game with his brother, Wayne’s father, who was shot and killed in 1999. “I choked because it felt so good,” he continued.
In late July, Sellers recorded their music video. They rented the Glow Bar/Nexxt Gen Event Center in Clinton, hired a photographer and videographer and invited about 50 family and friends. Woody told the crowd to join in as he trumpeted, “Left hand up!” and “We want Dallas!” The video was posted to YouTube on August 3.
In the first few weeks, Woody estimated that the video received a like for every 10 dislikes. Cowboys fans led the clowning, but Leaders fans joined in. Some of the comments were particularly hateful, but the sellers said they didn’t mind.
“I loved it,” said Wayne. “The dwarf will turn heads in the song.”
After Washington’s Week 1 victory, Woody said, the tone of the comments began to change. Every week, there were more views and more fans. On October 4, after a huge loss in Dallas, former NFL player Pat McAfee played the song on his popular YouTube show, which has more than 2 million subscribers. Three producers sang in the studio, raising their left hands.
Woody’s phone starts to explode.
“I said, ‘Uh, this could be big,’” Woody recalls. “When I watched that, and I saw the guys in the background singing the words, I said, ‘Oh, my God.’”
Within days, the video had reached 20k views, then 30k, then 40k. Woody’s artist profile on Apple Music showed listeners in Switzerland and the Bahamas. Note that the new fans were not mostly black, as they were in the beginning.
“I noticed that the people they really liked were Caucasian,” Woody said. “I said, we’re done crossing over.”
The following month, the Chiefs went on a three-game winning streak, and Snyder announced that he was Consider selling the team. Fans seemed ecstatic, and Sellers’ anthem found the right audience at the right time. Comments poured in, with some noting that although they hated the name “Leaders” at first, the song warmed to them.
Eric Sullenberger, a lifelong Commanders fan known as the PFT Commenter on Twitter, suspects there are two more reasons for blasting the song. Its organic origins contrasted with the manufactured culture the organization had pushed for years – reflected even in the name of the leaders – and the criticism the song received early on galvanized a suddenly optimistic fan base.
In the past few weeks, Sollenberger, who has nearly a million followers, has become the top songstress on the internet. He regularly pays tribute to the good news by tweeting pictures of celebrities and historical figures, from Jesus Christ to George Washington to Miley Cyrus, raising their left hand.
“I never imagined there was another level”
No matter what happens next, Sellers said the song has already given them more than they expected. And in a way, it’s the culmination of nearly 40 years of practice.
In 1983, Woody was in the Army at Fort Hood in Texas when he met a soldier who was always DJing in his room. He loved listening, loved the art of turntables, and when he met another DJ while in Germany, he decided to teach himself how to play.
In the late 1980s, Woody bought a small group. It took him about eight hours to figure out how to wire everything up. Over the next decade, hip-hop grew, and when he watched music videos, he looked behind the rapper at the turntables. In 1998, he decided to try DJing professionally and went to a pawnshop to buy better equipment. He trained hard for about a year, bombed his first gig and kept spinning. Over the years, he has done side work, playing parties and weddings.
“It’s not about the money,” Woody said. “Just by looking in there, I’ve been able to control 100 people or 200 people or 150 people or 30 people. … That’s so much fun for me, just to see people enjoying the music. Then to get compliments: ‘Do you have a business card?'” Or “,” We had such a good time. I love it. I simply love it.
In 2019, Wayne had recently returned from college in Arizona, and Woody thought he seemed a little out of touch. Wayne worked as a bouncer at Costco and as a security guard, spent his free time in the studio, rapping, and Woody suggested that they do a song together. They put their plans on hold for the Washington FC’s two seasons, then resume in the spring of 2022. What happened next, Wayne can only describe as “God’s plan.”
“I never imagined there would be another level to this,” said Woody. “I was so happy with what I was in. I didn’t think this was ever going to happen.”
At the leaders’ facility, Coach Ron Rivera said he had never heard the song. Stepping back, Antonio Gibson said he had heard from a teammate that he was “bad.” Receiver Terry McLaurin said he had seen social media posts of “the two men” but was only vaguely aware of the song, though he knew it included the phrase “left hand something”.
Safety Cam Curl said, “This is b… The song was better than a song a group of fans used on the day of the re-branding, which replaced “Leaders” in the Farmers Insurance song, Curl noted. More recently, when Charles Leno’s wife left Junior showed him the song, he laughed.
“It’s cheesy, but I love it,” he said. “left hand!”