TES finds hit with SDSU's 'Aztec Motto'
Tim Shelton has a video and a song that's as hot as his San Diego State basketball team, but he's got no illusions of grandeur.
He's not ditching his plans to be a college hoops coach, or walking away from grad school to be the next Drake.
His "Aztec Motto" video may be getting him "a whole lotta love," with more than 73,000 views on YouTube in less than a week, but Shelton -- who performs under the artist name TES -- is just enjoying it for what it is: a fun experience and a chance to share his passion for music and basketball.
The fifth-year forward on the nation's 16th-ranked team said he could see music "as something I could be doing in the future," but he's already set to be a graduate assistant under coach Steve Fisher next season while finishing his master's in postsecondary education.
"I want actually to be a collegiate basketball coach, so it's an odd combination, somebody rapping to be a basketball coach," he said. "That's my ultimate goal. Rapping, I think I don't know, who wants to be a rapper after the age of like 25, 26 anyway?"
After watching "Aztec Motto," you think there's no rhyme or reason he couldn't if he wanted.
The three-minute, 26-second video features Shelton rapping about being an Aztec, giving props to teammates past and present and riffing off the "I believe that we will win" chant of The Show, SDSU's creative and rowdy student section.
Shelton's dunking and dancing teammates, members of The Show and cheerleaders are part of the scene, filmed mostly over about a four-hour span one night at SDSU's Peterson Gym. Interspersed are cutaways to Shelton alone in the locker room delivering his own lyrics to the beat from "The Motto" by Drake and Lil Wayne, such as:
Fifth year, so I'm old-school
Russell brand gear, yup that's the old rules
Ice bags on the knees, I'm so cool
Black and red 'til I'm dead
The video was first shown last Saturday on the video board of SDSU's Viejas Arena before the Aztecs' 69-67 victory over then-No. 12 UNLV, then posted to YouTube the next day.
It became an instant hit.
"The student section is excited about it, our players are excited about it and shoot, I'm excited about it," said Shelton on Thursday, the morning after his team's ninth straight win, a 75-70 decision over New Mexico in Albuquerque. "I didn't really expect that type of response from it, but the song is good and the video is very well put together."
The production, in fact, has been one of the things that separates "Aztec Motto" from a host of other athlete videos.
It was produced by Aubry Wiltcher, a 23-year-old videographer, Apple Store employee and community college student who's studying computer science. Wiltcher, who met Shelton through a friend of a friend and worked with him once before on a student project, has been doing videos for about four years and is co-owner of LifeCapturedMedia in San Diego.
She said the attention "Aztec Motto" has gotten is "humbling," and jokes that it's the first video she's made that anybody cared about.
Shelton put together the schedule for the night, arranged for his teammates, members of the women's team, The Show and a DJ to come, while Wiltcher got her crew, coworkers and friends to borrow equipment and help with the shoot. She spent $50 renting one piece of equipment, but everything else was donated and her friends worked for free. Under normal circumstances, she said, a similar shoot would have cost about $10,000.
Wiltcher said she was taken aback when she rushed over to SDSU to do the shoot (after working all day) and found a big crowd waiting for her.
"I was nervous as I could be," she said. "I walked in and I was absolutely shocked to see how many people showed up. I thought there would be 60, 40 extras, and I walked in and there was like 160."
From start to finish the video was done in a matter of days. Shelton said he wanted to make sure the project was done during winter break and out of the way before the Aztecs got into their Mountain West Conference schedule.
The whole thing wasn't even Shelton's idea.
Members of The Show approached him to come up with a new anthem, a follow to one he did last season called "Game Time Ready" that set the beat for SDSU's run to the Sweet 16.
"This one was actually a request," he said, laughing. "'Can you do another song? You gonna do another song?' "
So Shelton, who said he's always got beats and lyrics in his head, starting thinking and wrote the song in "a little less than an hour." From there he recorded it, which set the video project in motion.
Shelton said music has always been a big part of his life, and always will be.
"I'm really good at listening to different beats and being able to write to them and the flow," he said. "Just trying to string words together that make sense and have a different rhythmic pattern."
As TES -- a name derived from Tim Edward Shelton and given to him by teammates Chase Tapley and Alec Williams last season -- he gets a chance to show that basketball "is not what my life is all about." He's done some San Diego performances and cut some songs for a record company.
As Shelton, he's been part of SDSU's surge under Fisher. Though he's been plagued by knee injuries (he missed most of one season, and received a medical redshirt year), the 6-foot-7 son of former NBA standout Lonnie Shelton has been a positive presence, playing key roles. In his first four years, SDSU lost in the NIT to Florida, went to the NIT Final Four in New York, lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament and then last year broke into the Sweet 16. This year, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Aztecs are 16-2.
Shelton invited Fisher to be part of the video, but the coach declined.
"Obviously, he's more concerned with the team and winning," said Shelton, who said he, too, didn't want the project to take anything away from the team's focus. He's just grateful Fisher gave his blessing.
Fisher told the San Diego Union-Tribune the video "is sensational," but he thought better of being a part of it.
"I was worried that all of a sudden we'd go on an eight-game losing streak and opposing teams would come in and point at me and make fun of me. I was close [to being in it], but not that close."
Fisher, who's 66, told the Union-Tribune that as a rapper, Shelton could "give Ice Cube and some of these other guys a run for their money."
Shelton, however, is playing it low-key.
"You never really know," he said. "It [the song] could be a launching point, depending on what I do next with it, but at the same time, I'm still in grad school and have a lot of different opportunities. I like having options."
I believe that we -- nuff said
Win win win, cut down nets
A-Z-T-E-C got next
Let 'em play, let 'em play
Home team all day
Work hard like coach Fish say
Aztecs what's up
Doug Williams is a freelance writer based in San Diego.