The current state of the construction industry was one of the key motivators behind The UP Companies (UPCO) of St. Louis releasing a parody song and music video of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, appropriately named “Old Construction Road” featuring international hip hop artist Howard “Chingy” Bailey, Jr.
UPCO, one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facility management professionals, consists of Power UP Electrical Contractors, Square UP Builders and Hustle UP Laborers. These three distinct business units have each felt the effects of workforce shortages on their projects. In order to recruit new talent for job openings at its three divisions, UPCO decided that it needed a fun and innovative way to attract the next generation of worker.
“We wanted to do a unique project that establishes The UP Companies as an industry leader who is not afraid to have fun and take risks to get the job done,” said UPCO President Michael B. Kennedy, Jr. “We also wanted to create awareness among potential employees, particularly minorities, that we are the premier destination for careers and to motivate them to consider working for us.”
Back in August while Kennedy was traveling on vacation, like much of the country, he could not get the hit song “Old Town Road” out of his head. During his flight, inspiration struck, and he found himself writing his own lyrics to the popular song with words related to construction and UPCO. Shortly thereafter, “Old Construction Road” was born.
Upon returning home to St. Louis, Kennedy enlisted close friend and well-known rapper Chingy to help produce the song. Chingy grew up in St. Louis and began writing music at age 7. His debut album “Jackpot” sold three million copies in 2003 and featured hit singles “Right Thurr,” “One Call Away” and “Holidae Inn”. Chingy would go on to record more albums throughout his career, making him an international recording artist with 50 million records sold worldwide. He is currently on the “Millenium Tour” and plans to release a new album in March 2020.
Chingy organized the recording session for “Old Construction Road” as well as lent his voice talents to a key verse in the song. Kennedy sings several verses, while the hook and chorus are sung by Square UP employee Cornelius Blanks. A music video featuring the trio and other UPCO employees was produced soon after through St. Louis-based video production company Unbridled Media and released to the public on December 20, 2019.
Chingy, who started the Chingy For Change Foundation to educate inner-city children on how to become positive leaders in their communities, said he was happy to help Kennedy with his unique project that gives minorities and young people a life changing, positive career path.
“I got involved with the project to bring awareness to the opportunity that the construction industry is providing for everyday people who are looking for work. UPCO is providing job opportunities to folks in need who want to work and better themselves,” said Chingy. “With me, it’s always about helping and healing. I do things out of love and compassion, so I am excited to be a part of this project and touching lives one at a time.”