The Lyrics to Always Be My Maybe’s ‘I Punched Keanu Reeves’ Rap, Annotated by Randall Park

Photo: Ed Araquel/Netflix

In Always Be My Maybe, Randall Park, who was in a band in the ’90s called Ill Again, goes back to his hip-hop roots as Marcus, who moonlights with his own musical group, Hello Peril. (Yes, that’s a pun.) Park wrote and performed the songs that appear in the movie, including “Hello” and “Tennis Ball,” and finally, the one that plays over the ending credits, “I Punched Keanu Reeves.” He wrote it as a last-minute addition after Netflix executive Tendo Nagendo suggested paying homage to the John Wick actor’s cameo. “We called up Dan the Automator” — best known for producing Gorillaz’ debut album — “asked for one more beat, and he made an incredible one. I got to writing, and a few days later, we recorded it at his studio in San Francisco,” Park wrote in an email. “He’s a Renaissance man,” says his longtime friend and co-star Ali Wong.

Here’s the song and Park’s personal annotations to the lyrics:

The scene in Always Be My Maybe when Randall Park’s character punches Keanu Reeves. Photo: Netflix

Best believe I punched Keanu Reeves
And it was better than any scene
You could see in Speed

I hit John Wick
And now I’m feeling so appealing
Basically, I’m a god
You could call me Hercules

Best believe I punched Keanu Reeves
And it was better than any scene
You could see in Speed
I’m tellin’ you, for real
I punched Neo
He could duck bullets
But he couldn’t duck me

[Verse 1]
I’m feelin’ so refreshed
The new sheriff’s in town
Check the button on my vest

It’s Keanu with a bruise
Around the oculus
Now I’m just cruisin’ the metropolis
In my prime, like Optimus

Everything is half-full
I’m an optimist, haven’t done ish
Yet I feel accomplished

Best pugilist
Blessed with an iron fist

Strong enough to
Survive an apocalypse
Any summit I could be on
Any point break
I could surf with my Gi on

Take any fighter, any class
I’mma put you on your ass
Then, I’ll pee on you peons
For eons and eons and eons
And eons, etcetera

Not a tall fellow
But nobody can measure up

And if you wanna feel similar to this
All I had to do was coldclock
An icon of cinema

[Verse 2]
What an excellent adventure
I wouldn’t be surprised if Keanu’s wearing dentures

I got a high five
That can make a man die
I should be with the Justice League
And the Avengers

Taking out contenders with glee
Carefree, and as happy as can be, low-key
Cause the only thing better than punching Keanu Reeves
Is the fact that his girl chose me
I bet you didn’t think this was a love song
But the reason I’m at my pinnacle right now
Is I hit him in the eye
Then I became her guy
And her love has me feeling invincible
No doubt (Oh)

Get it? So I don’t think I’ll ever dead it
Plus, he was a jerk
So I really don’t regret it
I’ll celebrate that day from now till forever
Or at least till the end of the credits, credits

Photo: Netflix
I wanted this song to be a tribute to Keanu. A way to thank him for being in our movie, but also a way to thank him for being such a big part of our lives, through his movies. So it was important to me to have his most iconic films up top in the chorus. But there were too many to choose from, so I settled on three that were my personal favorites. Speed is a classic thriller that takes an insane premise and makes it entirely real. Not unlike the Keanu scenes in Always Be My Maybe. Keanu worked on our movie during our last four days of production, while we were shooting in San Francisco. He showed up to our set literally limping, because he was in the midst of shooting John Wick 3, which I’d imagine is very physically demanding. I couldn’t believe that he was using that small window in his production schedule to come to play with us. And when he makes his grand entrance in our movie, he does so with the grace of a figure skater. You don’t even see a hint of that limping. What a pro. The Matrix, yet another Keanu Reeves classic franchise. That moment of Neo ducking those bullets is seared into my consciousness as one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen on a big screen. I felt pretty good about my choices for the chorus: Speed, John Wick and The Matrix. I liked the idea of starting the verse off with a western movie motif. I tried to think of a Keanu Reeves western to reference, but I didn’t know of any off hand. I’m sure he’s done it at some point, but I was in a bit of time crunch so I let it be. I’m very excited that I got to use the word “oculus” in the song. I’m still not entirely sure what it means, but I know it has something to do with the eye. Also, I collected Transformers when I was a kid, so an Optimus Prime reference felt right. I originally wanted to use the word “shit,” but they didn’t want any cursing in the song, so I went with “ish” which it turns out pairs much better with the word “accomplished.” Sometimes censorship is a gift. I distinctly remember learning the word “pugilist” from listening to Jeru The Damaja. I was a big fan of that entire camp: Gang Starr, Jeru, Group Home … Basically anything DJ Premier produced. Also, I like the idea of an Asian guy having the “Iron Fist.” To be honest with you, I’ve never seen Point Break. But I know it’s awesome, because it has Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in it. Two legends. Also, I really enjoy the image of someone surfing in a martial-arts uniform. I was very pleased with my usage of “pee on” and “peon” and “eon,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been done before. I’m not going to check though, because I want to bask in the belief that I came up with that. I’m 5’9”. Keanu Reeves is about 8 feet tall. A reference to another Keanu Reeves classic movie franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s crazy to think that he’s been in so many movie franchises and none of them involve superheroes. Also, it should come as no surprise that Keanu is hilarious in our movie. He’s been hilarious in major motion pictures since 1989. A subtle nod to the fact that I was in both Aquaman and Ant Man and The Wasp last year. I know it’s a song about Keanu, but it’s still so insane to me, I just wanted to mention that for posterity. We needed to get Keanu’s permission before recording this song. It’s called “I Punched Keanu Reeves,” after all. So, at the suggestion of our amazing producer Erin Westerman, I sent him an email, explaining the concept. I also attached a shoddy recording of some of the lyrics over a Jurassic-5 instrumental so he could hear what I was going for. Keanu got back to me right away. He was totally on board, but he had one suggestion: Make it clearer that this is really about Marcus’ love for Sasha. Originally, I only had the “his girl chose me” line. But because of his suggestion, I devoted the next four bars to the love story of it all. And in my opinion, the song is so much better for it. Keanu didn’t want our movie to close with a song about him. He wanted it to be about the movie. About Sasha and Marcus. The man cares more about the project than he does himself. Yet another reason why I respect the guy so much. Truth is, I will celebrate that day forever. Getting to “punch” Keanu Reeves was a career highlight for me. Very few people get to experience this, and I did! But also, working with the man taught me that even if you’re a cinematic icon, a living legend with a resume filled with certified classics, making movies is still a team effort. It’s a collaboration. It was a great reminder to always be professional, be kind, and never make it about me.
Always make it about the movie.
Randall Park Annotates the ‘I Punched Keanu Reeves’ Lyrics