By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Pass Me The Ball
Eric (3Alarm) Thompson and Ahmad (Ahmayzin) Johnson of PM Entertainment
WASHINGTON, DC—It all started on a Saturday night a last year, when brothers Michael and Eric Thompson, and friend Ahmad Johnson sat down to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes, watching an NBA game on television. The Atlanta Hawks were playing the Boston Celtics, and it was family night at Philips Arena. A popular league wide promotion, family night generally means special deals on ticket prices, more kids in the stands, and an atmosphere that encourages the more casual fan to come out and enjoy the game.
Although hip-hop music is a staple in NBA arenas, and quite popular with many regular fans, it seems that on this particular night, a very ï¿½adultï¿½ song was played during a second quarter timeout, complete with the type of lyrics that had parents singing a different tune. They were by turns angry, offended, and outraged that songs like this were being played during family night, and thus began talk of starting a petition to ban hip-hop music in athletic stadiums nationwide.
As the three of them watched the game, they all had the same thought. Wouldnï¿½t it be a great idea if someone wrote a new kind of hip-hop song ï¿½ clean, fun, and with sports themed lyrics that would have both parents and kids singing and dancing in the isles? And so, they did.
Using rented studio space, Eric, the composer, and Ahmad, the lyricist, wrote and recorded ï¿½Pass Me the Ballï¿½, a classical, funky, hip-hop tune complete with specialized lyrics to fit the sport. There is a football version of the song, a generic basketball version, as well as team specific versions written for several NBA franchises, including the 3-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, the 2005 All-Star host team Denver Nuggets, and their hometown team, the Washington Wizards.
ï¿½The challenge was to create hip-hop music that would appeal to all ages and races. A lot of older people arenï¿½t really into hip-hop music. But they will respond favorably if itï¿½s the right kind of musicï¿½, says Eric Thompson, aka ï¿½3Alarmï¿½.
ï¿½Itï¿½s important to us that our music be clean, and send a positive message. I think if youï¿½re creative enough, you can write songs without the profanityï¿½, he adds. A talented composer, Eric drew from his classical music background in writing the music for ï¿½Pass Me the Ballï¿½. A former member of a youth orchestra, Eric plays the drums, the trumpet and the tuba.
As for the dead-on sports themed lyrics, Ahmad Johnson, aka ï¿½Ahmayzinï¿½ is the creative force behind those, and the featured rapper on ï¿½Pass Me the Ballï¿½.
ï¿½I thought this was a great conceptï¿½ says Ahmad.
ï¿½This is the most fun Iï¿½ve ever had writing lyrics for a songï¿½, he adds. He is currently working on team specific lyrics of ï¿½Pass Me the Ballï¿½ for every football and basketball team in the league.
ï¿½Iï¿½ve been playing football for fifteen years. I love the game and still have a passion for it. I wrote the lyrics not only for the fans, but the players as wellï¿½, he adds. Ahmad is a coach and defensive coordinator in a flag football league. He composed his football version first, then followed up with the basketball versions of ï¿½Pass Me the Ballï¿½.
Now that they had a song, it was time to take the next step. Forming a company called PM Entertainment, with Michael Thompson serving as the President and CEO, and in conjunction with Paidmen records, which produced their CD, it was time to take their music to the public. Enter Dominique Journet.
A former employee in the NBA commissionerï¿½s office, Journet is the founder of Andromeda Creative Marketing, based in Denver, Colorado, site of the 2005 NBA All-Star game. Andromedaï¿½s mission ï¿½ to find appropriate hip-hop and rap music to use as background music during the five day NBA Jam session at the Denver Convention Center during All-Star week.
ï¿½Rap music is very popular with this audience. Unfortunately, unedited versions have slipped through, and they have profanity and can be offensiveï¿½, says Journet.
She and her staff screened music for twenty hours. Emerging as one of the favorites was PM Entertainmentï¿½s ï¿½Pass Me the Ballï¿½.
Journetï¿½s testing audience ranged from kids as young as ten to a sixty-eight year-old former professor. The response from both ends of the age spectrum was overwhelmingly positive. The song was selected to be played at the African American Awards Ceremony ï¿½Hoops and Historyï¿½ in Denver during All Star weekend to an audience of current and former NBA players, and business executives. Again, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Not one negative comment was made about the song. It garnered an approval rating of 100%. Everyone who heard ï¿½Pass me the Ballï¿½ that evening liked it.
Through the continuing efforts of Andromeda Creative Marketing, the song is finding itï¿½s way into the hands of NBA teams all around the league, and has already been played in Denver and, ironically enough, Atlanta. It has also been played in Detroitï¿½s home arena, The Palace at Auburn Hills. The Pistonï¿½s music director Steve Conway has been in touch with the group to express his interest in having a customized version created for the defending World Champion Detroit Pistons. The group is also negotiating a deal with ESPN Radio, and is working on a Miami heat version.
ï¿½If we can get fan support, thatï¿½s our goalï¿½, says Michael Thompson. Referred to as the resident business, marketing, technical, and internet genius by brother Eric, Michael created the companyï¿½s website.
ï¿½Fans can download the song directly from our website. If enough fans like it, maybe theyï¿½ll approach the teams in their cities and say hey, we want to hear this played in the stadiumï¿½, he says.
Fan support however, is only part of the companyï¿½s goal.
ï¿½From a larger perspective, we want to impact the negative image of hip-hop and sports. When Iï¿½m in the car with my kids, I donï¿½t want them to hear all those negative lyrics and all that profanity. I donï¿½t want to hear itï¿½, says Thompson, who acknowledges that creating clean, positive hip-hop style music can be a risk. But the risk is worth it.
ï¿½I think this is something we have to do. Eric, Ahmad and I believe you can be a positive role model in sports and still sell a lot of sneakers and jerseysï¿½, he says, citing examples like Tracy McGrady and Michael Jordan.
ï¿½Itï¿½s a blessing to be able to create music that we think will appeal to all crowdsï¿½, he adds.
In addition to getting their music into football and basketball stadiums around the country, there are also plans to introduce the song into sports video games. The sports and team specific lyrics would seem to be a natural fit.
Interested fans should log onto www.passmetheball.net and sample the music of PM Entertainment, whoï¿½s lofty and uplifting goals are equally matched by their talent.