A city's best sports anthems come about organically but quickly feel destined. They seem timely but not ephemeral. They feel deeply rooted in a team's geography and identity while remaining highly accessible to outsiders. They're stirring, exciting and maybe even a little bit intimidating. And when things are truly meant to be, they end up soundtracking championship celebrations.
Before last night, Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares" qualified for all but the last part of that description. And now, its resume is complete: The 2017 Philadelphia Eagles both came out at Super Bowl LII to the song's iconic beat switch, and spent the post-game locker room celebration after their 41-33 win over the New England Patriots rapping along with the entire song. And now, it almost has to be considered the greatest anthem that Philly sports has ever known.
The Eagles came out to Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares Intro" before tonight's #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/0CTsB9uhUv— Karen Civil 🇭🇹 (@KarenCivil) February 4, 2018
Not that it doesn't have decently stiff competition. McFadden and Whitehead's disco classic "Ain't No Stoppin Us Now" soundtracked the indomitable 1980 Phillies' World Series run, breaking a title drought decades longer than even these Eagles. A decade later, Tag Team's "Whoomp! There It Is" propelled the sh*t-stirring '93 Phils to the Series with appropriate sha-ka-la-ka swagger. Fresh Aire's "Here Come the Sixers" is as deliciously funky and timestamped a '70s jam as the eventual title-contending 76ers teams of the late decade could've asked for. And of course, Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now" will exist throughout sports culture for as long as their late-game timeouts in high-pressure situations.
But none of them have ever felt quite so important to Philly culture as this. It helps, of course, that Meek Mill is not only a native and proud Philadelphian, but that he's become a local cause as a result of his recent imprisonment, which ranks somewhere on the scale between "unfortunate," "wrongful" and "cartoonish." And while McFadden and Whitehead were local products who played a key part in the city's epochal '70s soul scene, Meek is the only performer of the bunch who's become downright synonymous with Philly on a national scale -- the guy filmed one of his first music videos at Lou Williams' house, damn it.
And even more important than Meek's cultural significance to Philadelphia, the song quickly become inextricable with this Eagles team because it seemed to fit their story so well. The song's not a linear narrative by any means, but it's an obvious underdog anthem in both lyrical and musical theme, almost a before-and-after of the Eagles turning from wide-eyed aspirants into devil-eyed agents of destruction. When the bass drops and everyone shouts along to the "HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE/ Y'ALL THOUGHT I WAS FINISHED?!?!?" section, it's pretty clear why the team written off by so many going into these playoffs adopted it as their theme song.
Even though the song has already been a huge part of Philly and hip-hop culture for a half-decade, its association with this team permanently ensures its local immortality, even for those who don't keep Power 99 on their radio presets -- and means we'll rarely think of one without the other for some time to come. The 2017 Eagles did it without an album. The 2017 Eagles did shit with Mariah. They gon' remember the 2017 Eagles.