UAlbany party era parody still ‘follows’ Neil Roche
May 14, 2010, two days after University at Albany graduation: The last number Neil Roche performed in a packed Ontario St. apartment referenced food service-induced diarrhea, smoking marijuana at Collins Circle, and sitting around drunk women on public transit.
Partygoers held up alcohol, swayed their arms, and sung along in the tight, beer-bottle shelved apartment as Roche delivered a UAlbany-centered parody of Asher Roth’s “I Love College.” It was his sixth song that night.
“Everyone knew the words which I thought was hilarious cause it still had been a tight-knit thing up to that point,” he recalled.
His friend, George Rippe filmed and borrowed some cell phone footage to patch Roche’s performance into a music video. Posted a month later, it was the song’s second Youtube appearance.
For about a year, Roche only shared the song privately. Worried the parody could limit job opportunities ahead or redefine his image, he didn’t initially want to release it.
A spoken word artist and sociology major, most of Roche’s work at the time dealt with heavier matters such as institutional oppression. Much of the lyrical content in “I Love SUNY”, he said, didn’t reflect his experiences at UAlbany. Roche was involved in Middle Earth, a feminist collective group, and was a residential assistant on State Quad before moving onto Ontario St.
“I was definitely a little conflicted with it gaining popularity over all the other stuff that I put so much thought into and was actually important to the world,” he said.
Around the time he was putting together an E.P., Roche, who graduated UAlbany two days prior to the party, wrote “I Love SUNY” during the spring of 2009 and recorded it the following summer. Hearing Roth’s hit on the radio at the time, Roche believed anecdotes of university life from his friends could make for a better version.
As senior year year passed by, the song gained interest outside his friend group. It was played among mutual friends, often from burned CDs. By the end of his last semester, Erik Daly, a stranger at the time, asked Roche over Facebook for permission to post the song online.
Encouraged by his friends to release it, Roche obliged.
See Asher Roth original below:
Uploaded on May 12, he grew fascinated by the song’s following. Eight years later, Daly’s video “Ualbany song” has over 90,000 views; Rippe’s music video has 24,000.
With its online presence and profanity-laced lyrics, Roche assumed the parody rap might put off some employers after graduation. Because of that, he hasn’t since hunted for employment with heavy candidate screenings.
And at the time of song’s release, Roche grew weary of employment that could stifle his creative freedom, anyways.
“I didn’t think that I was cutting anything off because I knew that any job that would actually care about this, like a government job or something like that, was something I’d never do,” said Roche.
Leaving Albany, Roche took a social work position around Ithaca for about a year. When his then-girlfriend accepted a post with Teach for America in New Orleans, interested in the city’s arts scene, looking to connect with friends in the area, and tired of social work, he followed along.
He later moved to Oakland, Calif. where he currently works as a full-time contract videographer and photographer. Until January, he pursued art projects while working restaurant jobs both in the San Francisco area and the Bayou.
Having worked in two states over the last seven years, Roche’s co-workers have often become familiar with “I Love SUNY” either through online searches or UAlbany connections.
“Since its release, every time I work at a new bar or restaurant or have a new group of people I work with, it always kind of follows me,” he said.
The song is now nostalgia, Roche said. It captures what some consider a party-heavy chapter in UAlbany history.