To say Octavious “Uneek” Tate was surprised is probably an understatement.
Last July the nine-year employee of Walmart in Covington was pulled off the sales floor by one of the company’s “social champions,” employees who work on promoting the stores through social media.
The employee wanted to know if Tate was interested in participating in a rap battle with Walmart employees across the country to promote online grocery pickup.
“I was a little iffy about it because I did not have a Facebook or Instagram account,” Tate, 37, said with a laugh. “Nobody could reach me on the face of this earth.”
After giving it a little thought, she decided to go for it.
One issue was that Tate had just a week to get her audition video together. Lots of the other contestants had been working on it for awhile.
Apparently Tate works well under pressure.
On the strength of her performance, which was filmed inside the Covington store, she was one of just 10 people from across the country chosen to take part in another video filmed in Bentonville, Ark.
When that video was posted on Facebook in September it had almost 250,000 views in one day.
Since then Tate has become a local celebrity.
“I’ve had customers, sometimes 50 years and older, say, ‘Hey, I saw the video,’” Tate said. “My eyes would light up. It made me feel good because people recognized me. There was so much positive feedback.”
When she went to pay her water bill recently the clerk recognized her and called Covington Mayor Justin Hanson out of his office to meet her.
A Walmart magazine is printed quarterly and Tate has been told she will be on the cover of the next edition, a very rare occurrence for a store associate.
The collaborative video featured Tate and performers from Arizona, Kansas, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Kentucky and Alabama, all rapping and singing about the value of online grocery pickup, or OGP, as it is referred to in the video.
Earlier this month the group congregated again in Houston to film a Christmas video. It’s expected to be released around Thanksgiving.
“I see what Beyonce and people like that go through,” Tate said. “Those hours were like 10 in the morning to 10 at night filming. We had real reindeer. I can’t wait for that to come out. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.”
There aren’t any more out-of-town trips scheduled, but Tate will continue to perform. She’s working on a flu season video right now and has plans to make inspirational music for kids.
“Maybe something about the ACT, TCAT or bullying, things like that,” said Tate, a lifelong Covington resident. “I want to make songs to get children motivated where they’ll say, ‘Hey, I can do whatever I want to do.’ If it takes a rap song to remember doing something, I don’t mind doing it.”
And, by the way, Tate is now on social media. She deactivated her Facebook and Instagram accounts two years ago because of hacking concerns. Now she feels like using social media to reach a larger audience is part of her calling.
She’s still shocked that out of approximately 4,500 Walmart stores in the United States, Covington was singled out.
“You have all these stores and they chose little baby Covington.”
It’s now fair to say Covington and Tate are “Uneek.”