Everyday Champion -- Mitch Canham
“Bein’ a Beaver and achievin’
At all times I put myself on the line
Steppin’ on stage with a rhyme
If I ain’t no good just gimme a sign
With game like this I ain’t ridin’ the pine.”
That’s from “O-State Ballaz,” a rap number that Canham the starting catcher on
This week, Canham has moved from performer to concert promoter in the world of rap and hip-hop.
On Friday, a show to benefit Corvallis-area Special Olympics programs will take place from in the Memorial Union ballroom on the OSU campus. Featured acts include Mo-X and Li’l G, Red Head Steve, Xile, Pain, Neema of Unexpected Arrival, and a special appearance by J.T. Funnymoney. The show is for all ages; doors open at and the suggested donation is $5.
Organizing a concert is just one of Canham’s many abilities. The sophomore from
Making the move from infielder to catcher for the 2005 season, Canham wound up batting .325 with a team-high eight home runs and 39 runs batted in. When the Beavers hosted the
“In it to win
Tearin’ up Pac-10
O-State Ballaz ... Ballaz
O-State Ballaz ... Ballaz.”
This week’s show came about after Canham joined OSU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which includes representatives from each of the Beavers’ varsity teams. Each member was asked to do a project “a fundraiser or something that would help the school or community out,” Canham recalls and he thought a concert with his friends from home would fit the bill. He’d heard OSU men’s golfer Mitch Gillis talk about a fundraiser for Special Olympics that had been done in the past.
“The kids really liked it, receiving new uniforms and stuff,” Canham said. “So I said, what better cause for it to go to? I contacted the local Special Olympics and they said it would be a great idea and they’d love to have any kind of donation. They’re kind of low on funds for travel and things.”
For Canham, the concert was on. He just told his friends that they’d be coming down to
“They said, For what?’ I said, You’ve got a concert, man.’ They said cool. Once it was on the plate, he was down for it,” Canham said. The friends of his friend, Ryan McBrayer a.k.a. Pain were willing, and another of the acts was suggested by a scout for the San Diego Padres that Canham knows.
“Yeah, you all heard the beat
We’re gonna get you movin’ your feet
Gonna throw some words y’all wanna repeat
Competition better retreat.”
The “O-State Ballaz” was a group that Canham got together to perform one of his rhymes in last spring’s edition of “The Other Side,” the annual talent show for OSU student athletes to raise money for charity. Canham, Jacoby Ellsbury, Anton Maxwell, Darwin Barney and Geoff Wagner went onstage to present Canham’s baseball-themed lyrics at the benefit for tsunami relief.
A few weeks later, when
“He’s like a programmer at Microsoft and is like one of the head guys, and he’s a computer whiz,” Canham said of Mo-X. “He can make me sound good on a song, he knows how to tweak things.
“But Ryan loves making music and he’ll do anything for me because we’re kind of like brothers. I’d do anything for him. His garage door wouldn’t open one morning and he had to go
“We hittin’ home runs, puttin’ it down for the town
And our defense, know that we can’t be clown
We touchin’ home base, throwin’ heat from the mound
For all the bats we crack and all the wins we stack.”
No wonder Canham knew McBrayer would have his back when he promised a concert. Since then, Canham has been busy getting ready for Friday. He’s gone over details with an event coordinator from the Memorial Union, posted it to all his friends on the Facebook website, talked to OSU men’s basketball player Kyle Jeffers about getting it in the OSU Daily
Canham’s father, Mark, is making some T-shirts for the event that can be thrown into the audience. His roommates have solicited local businesses for donations to help defray the costs of the event, and for some gifts that could be given away during the show.
With all that going on plus the start of Winter term and workouts for the 2006 baseball season Canham discussed his rhymes and other activities.
QUESTION: How did you get involved with rap and hip-hop?
CANHAM: “It all came from Ryan. After losing my Mom, listening to him when he sings and stuff was a release for me, it helped me relax. It was a way to get all the stress off my back. Writing stuff down and being able to say it out loud and being able to do it with music behind it is kind of like ... it’s beautiful. It takes the weight off your shoulders when you’ve been keeping it inside. He’s always supported me and kind of taught me how to go about it. I used to write a lot of poetry and stuff when I was younger, and this is just another way of writing it.
Q: Have you recorded anything other than the O-State Ballaz?
C: “I’ve recorded the new one (the 2006 version of O-State Ballaz). I’m supposed to get that tonight, so it should be sweet. But I’ve never gotten to record a lot of stuff just because it takes a lot of time to get in there and do it.”
Q: So you just do it on your own?
C: “Yeah. I’ve got a couple notebooks that I’ll sit there and write it into. I keep busy when we’re traveling.”
Q: Writing is writing, it’s all communicating do you find that writing your rhymes helps in your academic work in terms of being able to express things and communicate ideas?
C: “It’s more artistic. I never really listened to music before, but after sitting down and watching these guys when they’re recording, and how they get excited when certain things are said, and how they get put together it kind of opens up more creativity, and that’s something I’ve never been big on. I always liked building things, but it’s a whole nother section. Rather than being physical and running around and building a shed or something, it’s being creative with your mind ...
“Learning how to put things down on paper, any time you sit there with a pen and a piece of paper, you learn to do it. It’s just like talking the only way you get better at speaking is to practice, and go about your business. But I don’t think I’m going to be writing any rap or hip-hop papers, but it definitely broadens your vocabulary, too. I’ll be sitting there writing and be stuck on a word or something, and then I’ll use the dictionary a lot more to try to use the right word to come across. It’s not like I sit down and write all the time; it’s when I have some free time or when I’m getting stressed out from working too much, it’s, You know what? I’m going to sit back, relax ... and that’s come from seeing Ryan do it. We have something like a brother relationship, since my older brother hasn’t been around much. I connect with him in a different way than I connect with anybody else in my family.
Q: You’ve earned conference and district all-academic honors how do you manage your time to excel in academics, baseball, SAAC, music?
C: “I like staying busy. I’ve kind of been gifted ... I guess I retain stuff a little better. I don’t think I’ve ever studied more than the average guy out there, I just retain it a little better. My big philosophy is, I make sure I go to class. I think if you go to class, you’ll pass. I’m there, I’ll stay attentive when I’m there, and I’ll get my studies done when I’m at home.
“But there’s more stuff I want to do right now. Last year, I didn’t get to do a lot of leadership stuff. And especially trying to go back to Omaha (for the College World Series) this year ... in high school, I did a lot of fundraisers dances, coin drives, all that stuff, and I really enjoy doing that stuff because of the result when you see everybody smiling and you see how thankful people are. It’s just a wonderful feeling.”
Q: Majoring in Business Administration, minoring in Athletic Administration how did you pick business?
C: “The world revolves around business. I don’t know. Eventually, I want to run my own facility maybe have weights on one side and batting cages on the other side so I can develop them as athletes and as people. I already feel like I know enough about the sport and enough about fitness, that I have a good grasp of it so I’ll be all right with that. But I want to be sure I know how to keep my facility up and running. I’m surprised at how much stuff I’ve taken in. I’ve been able to help my Dad with how to better his business and use his time wisely.”
Q: What’s the favorite class you’ve had at
C: “I can tell you it’s not accounting. I think it would probably be drugs and sports with (former OSU football player and wrestler) Jess Lewis and Dr. (Raymond) Tricker, because we were able to go to a middle school and talk about our own personal experience with drugs the people I’ve known who got involved with them - and I was able to get some stuff off my chest and reach out and share my story and touch kids with it. I got a lot of positive feedback from the kids, and I’ve still got the letters they sent me.
“I like going out and helping people I’m a people person, kind of. I like helping people, because one thing my Dad has always taught me, and from the way I was raised, is that you have it a lot better than a lot of people out there. I’ve seen the people out there with nothing, and I’d like to reach out for them. Plus Jess is a good guy and he was able to share his story (about past drug involvement), and I like classes like that that are interactive. It wasn’t a difficult class to pass, but that wasn’t the part I really cared about it was the sharing and being able to learn about how to help people and how to help myself stay positive and stay away from the nasty things in life.”