Whenever you hear Omega Psi Phi chants, you can be sure that there are some proud members of this prestigious fraternity nearby who would like to share their pride with you.
In an organization such as collegiate Greek life, these chants hold a beloved place in the history of collegiate Greek life due to their harmonies, the “WOOF!” of the “Q-dogs”, as well as their signature “WOOF!”.
From Four to 150,000
In 1911, Omega Psi Phi was founded by three Howard University students: Edgar A. Love, Oscar J. Cooper, and Frank Coleman, under the direction of their faculty advisor, Professor Ernest E. Just, under the direction of three Howard University students.
‘Fraternity’ comes from the Greek phrase that means Friendship is Eternal to the Soul, which stands for the strong commitment the members have to their fraternity, their community, and each other. This is reflected in the initials of the fraternity.
There is a common sentiment among Omega Phi Phi members that reads, “Until the day I die, Omega Psi Phi.”.
A fraternity member has informally called himself a “Que” (pronounced like the letter “Q”), and also referred to himself as a “Dog.” This is despite the guttural barking that constitutes the basic chant of the fraternity.
The popular song Who Let the Dogs Out has become associated with the fraternity in recent years, and popular movies depict the rivalry between fraternities on the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities in films like “Stomp the Yard,” which dramatizes the rivalry between fraternities on the campus of historically Black colleges and universities.
There are now over 150,000 members of Q’s worldwide, including famous people like Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, Vernon Jordan, and Charles Drew, among many others.
Examples of Omega Psi Phi Chants
There is a wide range of complexity in the chants used by the Omega Psi Phi (sometimes shortened to Q Psi Phi) members, from simple “call and response” to multilayered chants with vocal harmonies. As an example, a leader will give a call to action
It is with great pleasure that we introduce ourselves as brothers of Q Psi Phi.
It is no lie that the Mother Pearl is the greatest pearl in the world,
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna die, but we’re gonna do it together
I am writing this letter on behalf of Q Psi Phi
There were three stanzas in the poem, and at the end of each stanza, the group repeated the phrase. In order to achieve this, it is not done in a static manner; every chant is accompanied by a set of ‘steppin” moves performed with the precision of a close-order drill team.
It is a very strong and athletic discipline, and many of the moves are stylized – for example, one technique called “grittin'” involves the thrusting out of the lower jaw with an angry expression. “Soulstepping”, written by Elizabeth Fine, describes the pledges of 1995 as having shaven heads, gold paint on their faces, and wearing combat boots, tan pants, blue sweatshirts and sunglasses that were reminiscent of a military uniform that was enhanced by the shields they all held displaying their organization’s name.
In spite of that, all of these moves have a special meaning for the members of the fraternity, and they should not be imitated or taken lightly on the part of those who have not been invited by the Q’s to do so.
Other Omega Psi Phi chants pay respect to their history – for example, the “Mother Pearl” referred to in the above chant is the Alpha chapter of the fraternity founded in Washington D.C. in 1911. Another chant pays tribute to the founding members:Cooper, Coleman, Love, and Just, They are watching over us…
Many of the chants also gently (or not so gently) chide, deride, and ridicule the other fraternities, which has become its own special kind of art form – being able to both “attack” and “defend” in steppin’ contests, but still maintain their own pride, dignity and style.
Pop Songs and Staggered Harmonies
Aside from the pop song Who Let the Dogs Out other songs have been used by Q’s in their chanting – such as a version of Down in the Valley. However, there are also very original and complex steppin’ routines with chants designed to rally a crowd in support of the fraternity.
These “staggered harmonies” would have, for example, three sub-groups of dogs, each given a particular chant and set of moves. The leader would then start each sub-group by doing the moves and chants with them, gradually letting the groups build in intensity and working the crowd up into a frenzy.
This kind of canonic performance is a great example of the strong artistry that combines with the cultural significance and fraternal pride the Omega Psi Phi chants embody.