Much like the baby-faced Maple Leafs he cheers for, Samuel Siboko, the Canadian rapper known as SVDVM, says he’s a newcomer in this game.
And though he didn’t plan on writing a song about Auston Matthews, and didn’t plan on that song going viral, the motifs of Toronto’s season and his own career intertwined in a way that the marriage, and his track, were formed.
“I was just going to relate a metaphor, and I was at the game,” Siboko told Sporting News Canada. “His name was already in my mind, and he scored four goals. It was just something I was playing around with the beat, and it just came together like that.”
The song, and accompanying music video, were posted on YouTube Feb. 16, roughly four months after Matthews’ historic debut, a four-goal outburst against the Senators. The video has over 230,000 plays. The SoundCloud track on SVDM’s page has over 68,000 plays.
“[Matthews] wasn’t playing it,” Siboko said. “He came to get it and he came to show his name. Basically that’s what everything is about. I’m trying to come in the music game. Like, ‘Hey, this is me; this is what I have to offer.’ He came through and hit em’ with the four. I’m coming through just like that.”
And just like that, a cult classic was born, though the song almost never saw the light of day.
“I was surprised. Personally I wasn’t even going to release it,” Siboko said. “It was more for the people around me hearing it and being like, ‘Yo, release that, release that.’ I ended up putting the whole video idea together. I was like, ‘Let’s just chill in the hockey rink.’ Put it out there. It wasn’t even like a stunt or anything, it was just more like having fun.”
But once it did hit the Internet, it made the rounds, from the hundreds of thousands who viewed it on YouTube to Matthews and his Leafs teammates.
“I saw it a couple of weeks ago,” Matthews said back in February after the song’s release. “It’s pretty cool to have your own song named after you and pretty funny. I’m a big rap guy. Mitch (Marner) starts playing it on the way to the rink, he thinks it’s hilarious.”
For the artist, there was no greater compliment.
“The fact that they were bumping it, that meant a lot,” he said. “Shout-out to them.”
The song’s roadmap is pretty simple. The hook celebrates Matthews’ four-goal game; “Auston Matthews, Auston Matthews, hit em’ with the four like Auston Matthews.”
SVDVM’s verse comes first (there are two other artists on the track) and he gets right into the theme of Matthews success coming in as a rookie, juxtaposed it to his fresh music career.
“Youngest in the league,
Yes, I’m balling
This not Spalding
I’m icy b—,
First day of work,
Made you act a fool”
Verse two features Black Iri$h, this time just building up the Leafs rookie forward with some sprinkled in hockey and Toronto references, such as “Life’s good now, we’re pullin’ up in new suits … Feeling like Auston Matthews, hit the 6, And everybody know me in the 6.”
An Ottawa resident who said he moved to Canada when he was very young, Siboko said he didn’t play much hockey in Canada, but like every Canadian, couldn’t avoid the sport’s reach.
“I’m a Leafs fan just living in Canada. It’s in my face and stuff,” he said. “I had to pick a team going to schools and stuff here. Yeah I’m a big fan. I watch games. I’ve never played; I’ve played ball hockey and stuff. I more watched.”
And like many other Leafs fans, Siboko said he got completely caught up in the team’s resurgence last season.
“They’re back, making more noise, and definitely bringing more people out to the games,” he said. “It’s dope to see the city supporting, and to see the vibe — they’re bringing the same vibe as the Raptors.
“They’re the cool guys. The way they pull up to the games and they just pop in. They have the whole new team with the youngsters shining. I’ve always found the Leafs cool. They play in Toronto, the nicest city in Canada. My favorite color is blue.”
Then came the opener, Matthews’ historic night, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. With Siboko on hand, the rapper got a firsthand view of what would turn into his latest track.
“I wrote this song at least four weeks after the game,” he said. “I was just shocked. I knew I was going to remember him forever just seeing that — someone scoring four goals in their first NHL game ever. And especially how my friends were telling me, ‘Oh yo, this kid, it’s his first NHL game today.’ Everyone is boosting it, and then I just see him score four goals.”
Since its release, Siboko said the perks of the song’s popularity have mostly been getting more attention toward his other work, which he said there is plenty of. Plus little things, “like getting into clubs for free,” he said with a laugh.
But a major realization of the song’s following came at a concert in his home town of Ottawa, where, if anything, Matthews would be more of a heel than the adulatory rap-song subject.
“The first time playing it in Ottawa at a show and everyone knew the words,” Siboko said. “We’re in Ottawa in another fan’s city, but everyone knew the words and was yelling ‘Matthews.’ That moment for me was like, ‘Oh s—, this s— is lit.'”
The song, like most of SVDVM’s work, falls under a genre he describes as “Coldnada,” a hybrid of “cold” and “Canada.”
“My music is for kids vibing out of the coldest place,” he said. “The vibe of it is cold. Everything about it is cold. That beat, just chilling in hockey arenas, sometimes when you go to game, and sometimes when you go skating, like that whole momentum, the beginning of the beat I just felt like standing in the middle of a hockey arena. It sounded like a heavy hockey (beat). I pictured myself standing in the middle of a hockey rink when I heard the beat.”