Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Examples Of Alpha Phi Alpha Chant "King Tut"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents examples of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Chant "King Tut".

The content of this post is presented for cultural, folkloric, and aesthetic purposes.

I consider fraternity & sorority chants to be cultural artifacts which deserve to be collected, preserved, and studied. However, I also believe that fraternity & sorority songs and chants should only be recited and/or performed by those who are members or pledges of the specific organization that is affiliated with that particular chant.

"King Tut" is an example of a group bragging/rival dissin (insulting) Black Greek lettered fraternity chant. The fraternal organizations are the Black Greek lettered fraternities "Ques" (Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc), "Kappas" (Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity,Inc.), and "Sigmas" (Sigma Phi Beta Fraternity, Inc).

It's interesting that the other Black Greek lettered fraternity that is a member of the "Divine Nine" Pan Hellenic Council, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (known as "the Iotas") isn't included in versions of "King Tut" that I have found. Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, founded 1963 is the newest member of the Pan Hellenic Council. Click for information about and a listing of the "Divine Nine" fraternities and sororities.

A lack of reference to the Iotas in versions of "King Tut" might point to a composition date for those chants that is on or before 1963. It might also point to the disinclination of Alpha chanters to add to that chant by including references to the Iotas. Another possibility for the lack of reference to the Iotas in this chant (and in many other dissin fraternity chants that I've read) is that the public persona [stereotype/s] for the Iotas hasn't been formed or hasn't been widely circulated yet. However, that seems unlikely given that its been a number of decades since the Iota Phi Theta, Fraternity Inc. was founded.

If you know other versions of this chant that include or don't include the Iotas, please share them with pancocojams readers (including me) by posting them in the comment section or adding a link there to a website or video where this chant can be found. Thanks!

"King Tut" is Tutankhamun, an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled ca. 1332 BC – 1323 BC in the conventional chronology). Click for more information about King Tut.

It's no accident that Egyptian pharoah "King Tut" is the central character in this chant. Ancient Egypt is regarded as the beginning of civilation. "Alpha Phi Alpha" is the first university based Black Greek lettered fraternity*, and its members are referred to as "Sphinxmen" - which explains the line "King Tut was the very first Greek". The word "Greek" in that sentence means "the first member of a fraternal organization". Click for more information of the Alpha's use of Egyptian references and symbols. One quote from that page indicates that "In 1914, The Sphinx, named after the Egyptian landmark, began publication as the fraternity's journal. [The NAACP's publication'] The Crisis and The Sphinx are respectively the first and second oldest continuously published black journals in the United States."

* Note this quote from the above linked Wikipedia page indicates that "Alpha Phi Alpha (ΑΦΑ) is the first Black, Inter-Collegiate Greek-Lettered fraternity. It was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York".

[The italics were added by me for emphasis].
However, "Sigma Phi Phi [the Boule] is the first African-American Greek-lettered organization. Sigma Pi Phi was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 15, 1904.

(These examples are posted in chronological order based on the date of their initial posting or publication on the website or in the book from which I retrieved them.)

Example #1: KING TUT
All: My-y-y old King Tut
was the very first Greek,
a-a-h when he clapped his hands
he had the ladies at his feet.
A-a-h, Tut, Tut, Tut,
a-a-h, Tut, Tut, Tut.

One brother: I said

All: When he saw the Sigmas,
it made him mad.
When he saw the Kappas,
it made him mad.
A-a-h, when he saw the Ques,
it made him sick.
When he saw the frat,
then he had to pledge quick.
A-a-h, Tut, Tut, Tut,

He had a black and gold whip
nd a black and gold cane,
then he came up
a-a-h with this black and gold name.
A-ha-h A Phi A,
A Phi A,
A Phi A,
-Alpha Phi Alpha, East Tennessee State University, in Soulstepping: African American Step Shows by Elizabeth C. Fine; originally from Thompson, "Aesthetic of Cool", 95-96, transcription by Jane Woodside pf videotape of Dance Heritage Festival, 6 April 1991, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City
UPDATE: May 31, 2014
The line "Old King Tut was the very first Greek" means that King Tut was the first person who was member of a Greek lettered fraternity.

I don't believe that this statement is meant to be taken historically. I think it alludes to the documented that the early Greeks are culturally indebted to the Egyptians.

Example #2: KING TUT
King Tut went to Egypt the other day
To Check out the greeks that were coming his way
He saw the Ques, and he said thay acted like a fool
He saw the Kappas, and he said that they were not cute
He saw the Sigmas, and he said that they made him sick
Then he saw the A-PHI!, and he made his pick
-ENewton;;f=7;t=000243 ; 09-30-2005

Example #3: KING TUT
Ol' King Tut he was the very first frat,
And when he clapped his hands he rocked the house
like that....ahhhh tut...tut...tut...King Tut
ahhh tut...tut...tuh...King Tut,

He looked at the Kappas and it made him mad,
He looked at the Sigmas and it made him sad,
He looked at the Ques and it made him sick,

But when he saw that ALPHA he had to pledge it quick
ahhhh tut.....ahhhh tut.....ahhhh tut!!!
-robelite, E-Greek Chant Off, Mar 5, 2008
WARNING: A number of examples on this hyperlinked page include profanity, explicit sexual references, and homophobic references.

Note: These videos are posted in chronological order with the oldest step performance posted first.

Video #1: KING TUT at Fisk University 1993

Uploaded by GPPALPHAPOE on Mar 20, 2009

Alpha Phi Alpha stepping on the yard at Fisk University in 1993

I've made no attempts to transcribe this video beyond the first few lines:

"King Tut was the very first Greek
When clapped his hands
He had the ladies at his feet
Aah Tut Tut Tut
Aah Tut Tut Tut."

Example #2: King Tut and Finale - Spring 2011 - Beta Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Uploaded by Theophilus Woodley on May 17, 2011

Recorded on March 18, 2011 using a Flip Video camcorder.
Notice that the style of steppin in the beginning of this video [.022 -023] mimics the movement of gorillas. Gorillas are the symbol of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and apparently have no negative connotation for this Black fraternity (unlike the very negative connotations of gorillas and monkeys as references to African Americans in general, and other Black people.)

UPDATE May 31, 2014
An example of the Alphas' King Tut chant is demonstrated at the end of the video given below [beginning at 3:11]. Here's my transcription of those words [with the words I'm not quite sure of given in italics]:

Group- Ah what?
One Alpha stepping & chanting - Ah Tut ah Tut ah Tut
I said Oh King Tut
He was the very first Greek
Ah and when he rocked the house
He brought the ladies to their feet.

All - Ah Tut Tut Tut ah King Tut.
Ah Tut Tut Tut ah King Tut.

He drove ah black
Group- [Ah what?]
Ah black
Group-[Ah what?]
He drove ah black and gold chair
With ah black and gold horse
And when he wanted to pledge
He had to charge his course

All - Ah Tut Tut Tut ah King Tut.
Ah Tut Tut Tut ah King Tut.
Ah Tut Tut Tut
Ah King Tut.

Stepping: Beyond the Line | Long Clip

SteppingTheDoc, Uploaded on Nov 2, 2011

Dancers stomp out a rhythm on the floor and on the body, expressing identities and struggles, hopes and dreams. They tell of resistance and conflict in the segregated South, brotherhood and sisterhood on the long climb out. Stepping is an African-American dance form created by black fraternities and sororities that reaches back to West African tribes and forward to twenty-first century cities. Stories about coming of age, about losing and finding family, about staying afloat through hard times, and about giving back are spoken, chanted, and performed. Step routines link dance with histories of the heart, with geographies of hope, and with the all-terrain vehicle that is humor.

Funded by the Mike Curb Institute for Music in Memphis, Tennessee, "Stepping: Beyond the Line" also features an original score composed and produced by Memphis musician Steve Selvidge with veteran session players from the city. This film represents a collaboration between producer/director Dee Garceau, co-producer Joann Selvidge, director of photography Eric Swartz, and a team of nine Rhodes College students who interned on the production. But the real credit goes to BGLO members who shared their stories and dances with us. They are the heart and soul of this film, and they held nothing back.

Thanks to the unknown composers of the fraternity chant "King Tut" that is featured in this post. My thanks also to those who showcased their performance of this chant on YouTube or posted the words of this chant on the internet. My thanks also to the producers & uploaders of these featured videos.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.



    1. Thanks Anonymous for sharing that videeo.

      Here's the hyperlink to that video:

      #UofM Yardshow Fall '12 Kappa Eta Alphas
      The "King Tut" in that video begins at 6:35.

      Btw, I also like the "I don't know why your girl keeps calling me" chant which begins around 3:58.

      That's the first time I heard that chant.