COLUMBIA – Keion Bell didn’t know his song was going to be played at Mizzou Arena during the Missouri men’s basketball team's final home game of the season. He almost didn’t even write the song.
Bell, a 6-foot-3-inch guard from Los Angeles, transferred to Missouri after three seasons at Pepperdine but has had to sit out this season because of NCAA rules.
Second round of Big 12 Tournament
No. 5 Missouri (27-4, 14-4)
vs. Oklahoma State (14-17, 7-11) or Texas Tech (8-22, 1-17)
WHEN: 6 p.m.
WHERE: Sprint Center. Kansas City.
RADIO: KCMQ/96.7 FM
At the urging of Tim Fuller, an assistant coach for the Tigers, Bell recorded “Welcome to the Zou” as a motivational song for his teammates and paired it with a video that the team watches to get pumped up before games.
“I didn’t really know they were going to play it at the game,” Bell said. “I didn’t know until they played it.”
As the rap song blared from the arena’s speakers, Bell looked around to gauge the crowd’s reaction to his work. He caught the eyes of a fan in the student section who was singing along, and they gave each other questioning looks.
“I didn’t know why she was singing it. I didn’t know how she knew it,” Bell said of the song that had never been previously released. “It was kind of like, ‘How do people know this song?’”
When Bell first arrived in Missouri, he released a mix tape of his songs that he thought got a lot of downloads. On Sunday, he released another mix tape he has promoted on Twitter as “#90sMadeMe.” In 24 hours, it exceeded the total amount of downloads he had for his previous release.
Some of his musical inspiration comes from his favorite artists including Jay-Z, Eminem, Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar.
“I listen to music all day, 24 hours a day,” Bell said.
“Welcome to the Zou” doesn’t appear on the mix tape, but Bell posted on Twitter that he would release it once he reached 4,300 followers. However, he said later via Twitter that because he uses his actual name as his rap name, it is an NCAA violation for him to promote himself. He is trying to get it straightened out by Friday when he plans to release the song.
“All my music, I just do it for my own benefit to have something I like to listen to,” Bell said.
Senior center Steve Moore heard Bell spend a lot of time talking about his rapping, and when Moore finally heard his music, he realized Bell had a gift.
“I’m not going to lie, he’s pretty good,” Moore said of his teammate.
Bell has written the lyrics for all the songs he has released. During winter break, he went home to California and spent three days recording his newest release. One of his closest friends then engineered and mixed the songs for him.
“If I had enough time to put into my music as I do basketball, my music would be a lot better, actually,” Bell said with a laugh.
But his love for the game of basketball makes the sport his top priority. During his three seasons at Pepperdine, he amassed 1,365 points and averaged 4.7 rebounds per game.
He thinks highly of this year’s Missouri team and looks forward to being able to take to the court next season. The most important thing he wants to carry over from this season’s team is the chemistry.
“That’s why we’re winning. It’s just chemistry, and we’re playing for each other,” Bell said. “So, the quicker we can implement that into next year’s team, the more successful we’ll be.”
To download Bell's mixtape for free, click here.