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Sunday, December 9, 2012

What Is A (Name Of Black Greek Lettered Sorority) Chants

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post features examples of the historically Black Greek lettered sorority chant: "What Is A (insert the name of a sorority)".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

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

COMMENTS ABOUT "WHAT IS A ___" CHANTS
"What is a ____" is a chant whose original composition is disputed among historically Black Greek lettered sororities. Each of the four Black Greek lettered sororities have multiple versions of this chant.

"What Is A ___" chants are performed by members of a sorority to insult (diss, put down) another sorority or more than one other sorority, and to brag about their own sorority. In the bragging portion of these compositions the chanters assert that their sorority is the preference of members of the fraternities which are named in that chant.

For instance, the examples of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc versions of these chants which I've collected thus far begin by dissin "Deltas" (members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc). Those chants then diss "Sigmas" (members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc), and then diss "Zetas" (members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.). The examples end by indicating that that "Alphas" (members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.), "Kappas" (members of Kappa Alpha Phi Fraternity, Inc.), and members of "Que Psi Phi" Fraternity prefer to be with AKAs rather than with members of any other sorority.

For whatever reason, in the examples of this chant that I've collected to date, only three Black Greek lettered fraternities are named. Usually, those fraternities are the Alphas, Kappas, and Ques)*

[October 9, 2016] *I had originally written Que Psi Phi instead of "Ques". I"m aware that Que Psi Phi is not the formal name of that fraternity. My apology. Read the comment found in the comment section below.]

The chant which is given below as Example #3 is the only "What Is A ___" chant that I've found to date that mentions the newest member of the Pan-Hellenic Council*, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. That chant was posted online by a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, inc.

The chant which is given below as Example #4 is the only "What Is A ___" chant that I've found to date that mentions the Black Greek lettered fraternity Phi Beta Sigma. That example was posted online by a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. That example also has a unique ending in which four of the five historically Black Greek lettered fraternities are mentioned. In that segment of the chant, the Sigmas are the first fraternity mentioned.

It's not surprising that a chant posted by a Zeta would mention Phi Beta Sigma and would name that fraternity first in a list of other Black Greek lettered fraternities. After all, Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority are the only predominately Black Greek lettered fraternity & sorority that are officially connected as "brother/sister" organizations.

*Information about the Pan-Hellenic Council is given below under "Related Links".

The order of the sororities which are named in these chants differs depends on the pattern that is used. I've identified two pattern for these chants. In the first pattern the first sorority named is the name of the organization to which the chanters belong. Each of the featured examples below use this pattern.

An alternative pattern that is found in some "What Is A ____" chants is to begin the chant by dissin one targeted sorority, or by dissin the other three sororities that are members of the Pan Hellenic Council. Here's an example of that pattern:

What is a Delta, What is a Delta?
Who ain't a Delta, Who ain't a Delta?
A Delta is what you can be
Anyone can join this sorority,
just sign your name and they'll put you through
and then you can go Oo-oop too
-LejaLaMorena, http://www.stophazing.org/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=000243 Frat/Sorority Chants, 9/29/2005
-snip-
Some examples of "What Is A ___" chants include an introductory portion that briefly references the history of the chanter's sorority, or briefly references the history of one of the sororities that is being dissed, from their perspective of those chanting. For instance, the beginning of Example #1 that is found below begins with comments about the history of Delta Sigma Theta which was founded by twenty two former members of Alpha Kappa Alpha:

"Let's kick it to the ivies in the Crimson and Cream.
To be an AKA was your founders' only dream.
See Delta Sigma Theta was perfectly made because all of your founders pledged...AKA.
I say "oops oops" you slipped, you went the wrong way.
You pledged DST but you're dreaming AKA."
-snip-
(Corrected comment)
"Oops oops"* is a clever play on words as it is close to the Delta's signature call "oo oops" & "oops oops" also has the English meaning "I've made a mistake".

In contrast to that introductory passage, the beginning portion of Example #2 below gives the history of how Delta Sigma Theta started from the perspective of a Delta:

"In 1908, you thought YOU were the best
But my 22 founders wouldn't settle for less
In 1913 they envisioned something greater
YOUR president walked out, and founded DELTA SIGMA THETA!!"
-snip-
1908 was the year that Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded. 1913 was the year that twenty two members of that sorority left it to start Delta Sigma Theta.
-snip-
A number of examples of "What Is A ___" chants end with the signature call of the organization whose members are doing the chanting. For instance, "Oop oop oop" is the Delta Sigma Theta signature call and "Skee Wee" is the Alpha Kappa Alpha signature call.

These calls are supposed to be chanted only by persons who are affiliated with that specific sorority.

My experience is that members of other sororities usually respond to these chants with either studied indifference, or with their signature call & their organization's signature hand gesture, and/or with their own bragging/putdown chants.

I've also found this video example of "What Is A Nupe"*: "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX1ZEqZ6-cY

In that video, individual members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc brag about their organization. That example doesn't fit the same patterns as the "What Is A ___" sorority chants that i've collected to date. I'm unsure if other Black Greek lettered fraternities have versions of this Chant. If you know of other examples, please share that information in the comment section or by contacting me via cocojams17@yahoo.com.

*Nupe is a referent for members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Visit this page of my cultural website to find omy cultual BClick http://cocojams.com/content/fraternity-and-sorority-chants to find other examples of "What Is A ____" chants. That page also includes examples of other fraternity or sorority chants.

FEATURED EXAMPLES
(Presented in alphabetical order based on the first letter of the sorority's name.)

Example #1: WHAT IS AN AKA
Let's kick it to the ivies in the Crimson and Cream.
To be an AKA was your founders' only dream.
See Delta Sigma Theta was perfectly made because all of your founders pledged...AKA.
I say "oops oops" you slipped, you went the wrong way.
You pledged DST but you're dreaming AKA.

Because an AhhKA is what a Delta ain't
what a Zeta couldn't
what a SGRho can't
what the Ques like
what the Kappas love
what APhiA can't get enough of.

Skeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee- Wee!
- reflection08, Greek Chant Off, http://onolympus.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=life&action=print&thread=1471 ,Feb 29, 2008
-snip-
"Let's kick it to the ivies in the Crimson and Cream" can be basically "translated" as "Let's direct these words to those who are in the process of joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. "Ivy" refers to the ivy plant & also is the referent for those pledging a sorority AKA and, from the text of this example, also DST (Delta Sigma Theta).*

"Crimson & Cream" are the official colors for Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

"AhhKA" (pronounced "ahh-kah") is a referent for members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

"Zeta" = members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
"SGRho" = members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
"Ques" = members of Que Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
"Kappas" = members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
"APhiA" members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

*Full Disclosure - I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Gamma Zeta chapter, 1967) and I therefore know that "ivies" is a referent that is used for those pledging AKA. But I'm not sure if "ivies" is also used for those pledging DST (Delta Sigma Theta) and/or other historically Black Greek lettered sororites.

****
Example #2: WHAT IS A DELTA?
I love this one, although its pretty common (I'm sure my sorors know it already)

In 1908, you thought YOU were the best
But my 22 founders wouldn't settle for less
In 1913 they envisioned something greater
YOUR president walked out, and founded DELTA SIGMA THETA!!

What is a Delta?
What is a DELTA?

A Delta is, what a A-KA ain't
What a Zeta wanna be
What a Sigma can't
What the Alpha's like
What the Kappas love
What a QUE PSI PHI can't get enough of!

OO-OOP, OO-OOP, OO-OOP OO-OOP OO-OOP, OOOOOOO-OOOOOOOOP!!
-crimsonendvy E-Greek Chant Off. http://onolympus.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=life&action=print&thread=1471 , Feb 29, 2008
snip-
"sorors" means "sisters" in the Greek language.
"Sigma" here means a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.

****
Example #3: WHAT IS A SIGMA
I say my sorors?
Yes!
My sexy sorors?
Yes!
My fine sexy Sigma Sorors?
WE SAID YES!
A Sigma is...
What a Delta ain't,
What an Acky wanna be,
What a Zeta can't;
What Iota wants,
What Alpha loves
What K-A-Psi can't get enough of!
- from http://ms_quiet.tripod.com/chants.html This is a Sigma Gamma Rho chant.
-snip-
"Acky" is an insulting referent for AKA.
-snip-
"Sigma" here refers to Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

In most of the Black Greek lettered sorority & fraternity chants that I've collected, "Sigmas" refers to members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and "SGRho" refers to Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.

As an aside, the beginning portion of this chant which has a call & response pattern reminds me of the group voice that begins a sub-set of children's cheerleader cheers that I have named "foot stomping cheers".

****
Example #4: WHAT IS A ZETA
what is a Zeta
A Zeta is what a Delta ain't
what a Sigma Rho wanna be
but an AKA can't
What a Kappa love
what a Q adore
what a Phi Beta Sigma can't get a enough of
Ritz got the crackers
Campbells got the soup
Zeta got the Sigmas, Alpha's Q's and the Nupes
Ow-Ow-Ow Z -Phi-B
Ow-Ow-Ow Oh so sweet

My chapter made this up Goes with Set it off by strafe Tall Tale Zeta Phi Beta Incorporated Gamma Nu chapter Fall 1997
-Tall Tale Zeta Phi Beta Incorporated Gamma Nu chapter Fall 1997; cocojams.com [website no longer active] ,8/14/2007
-snip-
"Ritz" and "Campbells" are well known product brand names.

****
FEATURED VIDEOS:
Example #1: Roll Call THE RIGHT WAY!



mfogles, Uploaded on May 13, 2007

All greekS should take notice. We are like 15 strong and get the crowd on their feet. This is how you do roll call at historically black colleges and universities. Lessons will be given later for all of you. Shout out to Fall 2K. GET CRUNK BRUHS!

****
Example #2: Greek Roll Call



M3trisjm92, Uploaded on Apr 11, 2011

Claflin University
Spr. 11' Yard Show

-snip-
The chant "What is a Delta" is found at .023 of this video.
-snip-
I'm interested in identifying other video & text examples of this chant. Please help document & preserve this history & creative legacy by sending in video links and text examples to me at cocojams17@yahoo.com or by sharing links and/or examples in the comment section below. Thanks!

****
UPDATE: July 31, 2016- Added Video and Editorial Comments

Big Nine - She's A Delta



madd1911 Uploaded on May 18, 2009

What's up my ladies of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. My name is Nine AKA Maddhatta' Spr. 97 Bloody O.K. I hope you like this well deserved tribute to you. Leave a comment to let me know what's up. No disrespect to my more conservative Sorors'. When writing this song it only came from the heart. It's is a hype track though.
Be on the look out for my joint called Where Da Ques!!
myspace.com/bignine1
FOR CD QUALITY SEND YOU EMAIL ADDRESS
-snip-
A "What Is A Delta" chant is heard at the end of this song – 3:00 -3:25.

**
A Motion On The Ocean* chant at the beginning of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa8Isad507A HomeComing with Motion Of The Ocean - 2010" is probably based on the "What Is A ___" chant.

*Motion On The Ocean is the name of Texas Southern University's majorette dance squad. Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/07/texas-southern-university-motion-on.html for a post in a pancocojams series that showcases five majorette (j-setting) dance squads.

****
RELATED LINK
Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Pan-Hellenic_Council for information about the Pan-Hellenic Council.

Here's an excerpt from that page:
"Not to be confused with National Panhellenic Conference.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is a collaborative organization of nine historically African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities."

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
My thanks to members of all Black Greek lettered sororities, which can be so much more than social organizations.

Thanks to those persons who posted examples of these chants online, and thanks to the uploader of this featured video.

Finally, thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

10 comments:

  1. There is no BGLO named "Que Psi Phi"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The name of that BGLO is Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. but folks do refer to that frat as Que Psi Phi.

      Delete
    2. No they don't. What kind of mess is that? Man, gon'... 🙄

      Delete
    3. Greetings, unknown

      I stand corrected. My apologies. I should have written that members of that fraternity are referred to as "Ques". For example, this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4ZAKFLTcJQ Omega Psi Phi Que Doggs

      And here's a link to a Omega Psi Phi brother chanting "Que Psi Phi": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_kE0Wz-t70&list=PL921798E36B05746F The Ques Marching OWT at the Psi Gamma Party 1

      Delete
  2. Deltas don't say "Oop oop oop." If you're going to tell it,please get it right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, thanks for your comment.

      If your care about documenting our culture, you can share the correct Delta call. I appreciate you sharing that correction.

      Delete
    2. Here's a comment that includes the correct Delta call:

      LaCharmine L.A. Jefferson, 2013; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6Mzp8Scj5s Delta Sigma Theta - Calling All Greeks Presentation
      "I am so HONORED to be a member of this ILLUSTRIOUS sorority. I love my DST!
      OO-OOOP"
      Reply

      Delete
  3. I understand this is an older blog, but I just wanted to state that the video of Alpha Phi Alpha responding to the roll call is also at Claflin University. Delta Alpha chapter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing that information, RHOyalEducator.

      I appreciate it.

      Delete
  4. 20 pearls,

    Thanks for sharing that example and comment* with pancocojams!

    -snip-
    Btw, to all readers, "Skee Wee" is the signature call for members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and "The proper chant!06-08!!" is a comment and not part of that chant.

    Also, for English as a second language speakers, in the context of this usage, "proper" doesn't mean not "something which is the socially correct (in terms of etiquette)". The word "proper" here probably means "the right version" (of that chant- with the implication that the AKAs' version of that chant is the right one and not the version of any other Black Greek Letter organization.)

    ReplyDelete