One Piece originally hit North America for the first time thanks to the company of 4Kids, who had employed artist Shawn Conrad to create a theme song that incorporates rap and hip hop to introduce new fans to the world of Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates. In an exclusive interview with the artist formerly known as Freshco, Conrad broke down the origins of the original theme song that has become linked with the franchise to this day and how he was able to take a few notes from 4Kids and transform it into a theme song talked about to this day.
When the One Piece Rap was created, Shawn had a decidedly different role within 4Kids:
"At the time, my role at 4Kids was lead post-production audio engineer. If it was a show that was really important, I was recording the actors,"
The task of creating an opening for the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates came about thanks to producer John Kalish, and told Conrad to "do whatever" on the song thanks in part to Shawn's background as a musician. When Conrad was given the opportunity to create the theme song, it definitely took some effort as Shawn's knowledge of the world of the Grand Line was limited:
"When it arrived to 4Kids, I knew next to nothing about the show. The show itself had to be made "Saturday Morning Friendly" and they were trying to put a rap together for it. They had given me an outline of who the characters were, which also had some bullet points about things they wanted me to mention in the song, but the creation of the rap was all pretty much me,"
Conrad noted that the notes given to him might have helped him understand the world better, but definitely wouldn't have worked for the creation of a new song:
"It was time to make the rap work and what was given to me wasn't going to work. If I was going to sing this myself, this is how I would do it and the lyrics couldn't be TOO 'underground'. This would be for kids after all. Rapping and song-making was my world. This is how I started putting the lyrics together. They told me 'Say Monkey D. Luffy in the song' but I knew it needed something extra. I came up with the "YO" opener to get people hyped and that it was time to go!"