Listen to FIU’s version of Remember the Name, and the pride comes through loud and clear. The song began revving the spirits of students, faculty and staff when it debuted this summer.
“I think it’s definitely going to get some people hyped,” says Christian Ramirez, a freshman math education major, adding that the vibrant musical beat should capture the attention of young Panthers. “It’s a really nice way to talk about the facts about FIU for this generation.”
Those with a keen ear will catch a reference to “Sunblazer,” the university’s original mascot, and another to “the tower,” a still-in-use building that served as air traffic control for the former airport on which MMC now stands. There’s mention of “three bowls in a row,” recognition of the football team’s recent successful seasons; “high scoring on the bar,” a nod to FIU law grads’ consistently stellar performance on the state legal exam; and a callout to the Trail of the Torch, a pep rally that is one of the university’s biggest annual traditions. Thrown into the mix: “colada,” the communal Cuban coffee that fuels staff meetings and afternoon study halls; “croquetas,” the deep-fried treats sold at multiple locations on campus; and “mazel tov,” the Jewish phrase for congratulations.
The idea for the celebratory mashup, a riff on an existing tune, came from none other than President Mark. B. Rosenberg himself.
“He liked the original by Fort Minor,” says Isabela Corzo, a two-time graduate who works in Rosenberg’s office. “He wanted to adapt it in a way that would really reflect what FIU is all about.”
So Corzo began making a list of FIU superlatives and standout features—her goal, she says, was to capture “where we’ve been and where we’re going”—and completed most of the rhyme scheme before calling in Benny Williams, a 2020 graduate who works in the music industry.
A lyricist and recording artist who dreams of one day running his own label, Williams, like Corzo, brought to the project a serious case of FIU-love.
“I was thinking about how can I highlight FIU in a three and a half minute song,” says Williams, who accepted the challenge just months before “walking across the stage” in FIU’s first-ever virtual commencement.
Williams, who graduated with a degree in international relations, says his favorite line, which he also wrote, is “Wall of Wind to blow you away.” It references FIU’s nationally known engineering facility that simulates hurricane-force conditions. He also made sure to include FIU’s standing as a “center for new solutions,” a tip of the hat to faculty research that addresses local as well as national and international problems.
The song was recorded at the Wertheim School of Music and serves as background for a video of Williams busting moves at the Riccardo Silva Stadium.
For Corzo, the venture punctuated years of happy association with the university.
“It’s a home to me,” she says. “I’ve gotten my education here, my siblings got their education here and so for me to be able to put my experience and be able to talk about FIU in such a great light, it’s an honor.”
For Williams, it was a chance to trumpet how FIU provides students with opportunities that allow them to go out and make an impact.
“Where did you get that mindset?” he asks rhetorically of the many alumni who have stepped up to leave their mark in countless ways. “FIU helped you develop it or gave you the resources or access to resources. And look at you,” he says, “you’re changing the world.”
Williams knows the power of FIU to prime the pump for success. As a student, he served as a peer advisor and a resident assistant, joined the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and helped found a chapter of Collegiate 100, an auxiliary of the national organization 100 Black Men of America.
While music remains Williams’ passion, it’s not yet a full-time livelihood as he continues to build his network and learn from those with more experience in the business. (By day he holds an office job in his hometown of Orlando.)
His latest release, the chill hip hop title Be Enough, dropped on Aug. 7. A collaboration for which he wrote the words, it aims to assure folks that they can rise above self-doubt to recognize their self-worth.
“When you feel stressed and you feel low,” he explains, “you have to understand that you are enough and you are capable of doing whatever you put your mind to.”
Spoken like one who cut his chops at FIU.