ESPN’s First Take is known for it’s Sports talk and it’s open arms to hip hop artists and their sports opinions. With guests like Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz talking sports with hosts Stephen Smith and Skip Bayless, they decided to recruit MMG’s Wale and Stalley for the official theme song for the show, Every Word Great.
We got a chance to talk to the VP of Original Programming at ESPN, Jamie Horowitz, about how the song came about. This is what he said:
How did the song come to be?
A: Wale has been on First Take twice now to debate sports with Skip and Stephen A. and since our music department knew he was a huge fan of the show – they suggested the idea to Wale.
As Skip says of Wale, he brings his performing energy onto the debate desk with fearless sports knowledge so we knew he would capture the vibe of the show. Everyone agreed it would work best as a duo and that led to Stalley coming on board. They worked on the song together for a while but the whole thing really came together during the shoot with the First Take cast and crew. It was pretty amazing.
What the experience was like fusing hip hop with sports and the relationship between the twoA: It was a fantastic experience. Getting to work with fans of the show that connect to Stephen A. and Skip and understand the overall attitude of First Take was terrific. Wale and Stalley are both so creative and Amadeus has produced so many talented artists – the whole project had a really fresh and exciting feel to it.
Are there future collaborations?
A: We don’t have anything in the works but we really enjoyed the experience of collaborating with Wale and Stalley and we’d definitely be open to additional ideas in the future. Snoop was on First Take last week and a viewer tweeted to ask him who would make the better rapper, Stephen A. or Skip? Snoop did not hesitate. He said, “Stephen A’s got style … but Skip is gangsta.” There is definitely overlap between the First Take audience and the hip-hop world. Many artists have come to ESPN HQ in Bristol, CT including: Snoop, Lil Wayne (3 times), Wale (twice), Nelly (twice), Fabolous, TI, 2 Chainz, Joe Budden, Bow Wow, Common, and LL Cool J.
Why Hip Hop, as opposed to any other genre?
A: While we don’t necessarily see hip hop as the only musical tie-in with our show, we’ve used rock and pop through the show bumps as well, but the strengths of the show are authenticity, energy and passion for sports. Much of hip hop also focuses on those same characteristics – energy, authenticity and passion – so it seemed like a natural fit.
Is the song available for download, if so when?
A: There isn’t a plan now to make it available for download but we will be posting a full version of the song online for fans to check out.
Would you ever consider an ESPN First Take mixtape?
A: We’d never rule anything out but sports debate is really our bread and butter.