Two former WKU football players form band

Former WKU football players Jamison Link and Chris McConnell are the faces of 17 Entertainment, a rap group they started after neck injuries ended their careers on the field.

Lauren Arnold

Injuries may have ended their football careers at WKU, but Chris McConnell and Jamison Link haven’t skipped a beat in finding new roles.

McConnell and Link, who go by the stage names Big Sash and Jamo, make up 17 Entertainment, a rap group from Nashville that McConnell described as “new-age hip-hop.”

McConnell was a former tackle for the Toppers, while Link played wide receiver. They began playing music together after arriving at WKU in 2004 and were roommates from 2006 to 2010.

“We became friends, and we realized that pretty much every CD he had burned and I had burned had the same songs on them,” McConnell said.

Both McConnell and Link said they started to learn a lot about each other in college through impromptu freestyle sessions and their passion for music.

“We’re basically brothers,” McConnell said. “Our music is our life. It’s like a journal – you don’t let everybody just read your journal.”

The pair experiments with different styles, such as techno and rock, because they hope to reach a broader audience.

“We wanted to be able to bring every genre of music together so every fan could come in and appreciate the music,” Link said.

Link said that he is proud that 17 Entertainment doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, but it can be described as a southern hip-hop group.

“But that’s just because of where we’re from,” Link said. “Our culture is different.”

The two agreed they want to get rid of the bad reputation many rappers seem to glorify in their music by focusing on current events to keep audiences interested.

“Rap music, historically, has been about drugs and guns,” Link said.

Although the guys started recording for their own entertainment, it didn’t stop there.

Jeremy Moore, another former WKU football player, allowed them record in his home studio. At the time, it was a studio used mostly for karaoke.

Link said that he and McConnell had never recorded music before and were “very unorthodox” from the beginning, switching back and forth between the only microphone.

“After that, everybody wanted to come over and watch us do it,” McConnell said.

McConnell and Link started writing their own lyrics and recording tracks, and more people became interested in their music, Link said.

“We took music and we ran with it,” he said.

Making music was a major factor in helping them get past the disappointment of their career-ending injuries.

Both players suffered neck injuries. McConnell’s occurred in 2007 while Link’s was in 2005.

“Football was taken from us, so we just put all of that into music,” he said.

17 Entertainment’s single, “Weather Men,” has been played in several bars and clubs in Tennessee and Kentucky, and the group has enlisted the help of a manager, Link’s childhood friend, Jordan Brooks.

Brooks said that managing the group is “extremely easy,” because the guys carry their own weight.

“Their musical talent speaks for itself,” he said. “All I have to do is get them to the right place at the right time.”

Brooks said that he is focused on viral marketing on websites such as ReverbNation and YouTube as well as contacting DJs directly.

“Any angle that presents itself, that’s how we market it,” he said.

17 Entertainment is planning on going on tour soon to promote its new album “Track 2 the Future,” to be released in November.

Brooks said that the group has been so successful because of its versatility.

“They can go several directions,” he said. “They’re entertainment-based.”