This excellent 2017 season posted by the Jacksonville Jaguars has instilled great hope for the NFL team and has also generated multiple questions.
One of the questions is, “Where exactly did the famous ‘DUUUUVVVVAAAALLLL’ chant originate?” By now, you’ve heard pretty much everyone use it in some capacity. You’ve even see cute babies be encouraged to say it.
Recently, comedian Katt Williams candidly spoke about people knowing the county before knowing the city. He suggested that the crowd remind him of where they’re located, and an enormous chorus of “DUUUUVVVVAAAALLLL” erupted from the Florida Theatre.
Now, a person who resides in, or has visited, Jacksonville knows almost automatically what that call means.
For people not from this area, the chant has been around for over 20 years, if not longer. My first interactions with this beloved calling came while being a teenager listening to the sole source most of us had in the early ‘90s — the radio. The station? The standalone urban music headquarters of 92.7 The Beat FM.
That said, while I was just a teen a the time playing Street Fighter II and eating a bowl of ramen noodles on a common Saturday evening, my stereo was blasting 92.7 and my tape was ready to record the songs. Later, I would learn that I was simply making a mixtape.
To go further into my hip hop teachings, certain elements hyped up the various mixes that would play, one of them being the Duval chant placed in between song transitions or even in the middle of a track. The voice/sound byte that yelled it proudly? Radio personality Eazy E.
After some time passed, I heard this chant screamed walking the hallways of my alma mater, Jean Ribault High School, in the Floradale neighborhood located in the Northwest part of town (shout out to 45th Street).
Here, you’d find the chant at all of the football and basketball games, dances and anywhere else where people lived respectfully in the urban and cultural areas around town. 92.7 The Beat played the best of hip hop and R&B “flavor,” which, possessed the cultural aspect of this chant speech. So, it’s safe to say that it was created within the local hip hop community that ties in firmly with African-Americans. Now, let’s catch up with the times.
On January 6, I shared a story on my Facebook page that First Coast News posted about the origin of the chant — and it received mixed reviews. Some people stated it began with supergroup, The Cool Runnings DJs. Some stated that it was created in local urban areas. Some reminisced hearing the war call for the first time in their respected places and some agreed simply that the origin of it didn’t begin with the Jaguars, which was the point I later had to imply.
To fact check, the Jaguars first kickoff as a new NFL team was on September 3, 1995. Granted, the team was in development before this date, but I’ll go far as to say the Duval chant wasn’t even a thought in the franchise’s mind at the time. One person does remember the so however. Shane Garner, also known as DJ Shane of The Cool Runnings DJs, spoke to me about his origins with the chant.
“The chant started at The Set and at the college parties in Tallahassee,” Shane said. “We would attend the parties and certain cities had their own chants. People from Philadelphia had a chant, Tampa Bay had a chant, so with that, Jacksonville natives made up the ‘DUUUUVVVVAAAALLLL’ call.”
Shane is a graduate of FAMU, a historically African-American university, and was a freshman back in 1994. Before he became a DJ, he would work closely with The Cool Runnings DJ camp. It was during this time that ambassador Bigga Rankins would come to Tallahassee often to host parties. At this moment, the chant would resonate with him and the camp and would eventually make its way back to Jacksonville’s urban parties or simply used in people’s daily conversations.
Shane mentioned that he’s been a season ticket holder for over 15 years, and he’s never recalled the stadium yelling the chant. “When the Jaguars were losing, we were still there yelling ‘DUUUUVVVVAAAALLLL’ Before any of this was popular to do,” Shane said.
Today, it is almost impossible to go anywhere in the area without hearing someone say it or even see it plastered on a shirt or a billboard. Now, it is even common to hear when you are at EverBank Field. When it is heard, most people would immediately think of the Jaguars (and their great 2017 season) or anything associated with the franchise, but the true originator/origin of this remains more of a debate than a mystery.