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Run the Play


Worth reading 😎

Life's pivotal moments provide avenues of success we otherwise may miss. Be prepared, pay attention, put in the work, and "Run the Play"!


Four stories that shaped my life and music career.

These detailed stories are one hundred percent true and told to the best of my recollection. These stories have impacted my music career, been with me for over twenty-five years, and have impacted my life in ways that I could only speak about having gone through the process. Somehow through faith, persistence, and more persistence was I able to overcome obstacles that were far greater than my abilities.

With a name like Sam Love you inherently know he would of been one of the greats and its a story where he's prominently featured and intricately woven that stays with you as you read through "Run the Play".

This is a collection of memories, pivotal moments, and highlights from a life well lived by the author, Curtis Johnson, that will serve to inspire if read the right way. As the reader, look for the nuggets of gold laden truths that you can apply to your own life. The biggest take away for me? "Always pay attention to the small fish; they could be leading you to bigger fish".

The other take away is knowing persistence is key to anything you want in life. You have to put in the time, be up for anything, and always be ready, at the drop of a hat, to present yourself with the best you have to offer. You don't want to look back and see missed opportunities. You want to look back and find you've taken every opportunity that presented itself to you and done so to the best of your ability.

Sometimes we need the hands and minds, skills and connections of others to open doors for us; collaborations matter, finding the right partners matter, having "day one's" is vitally important to the success in life you seek. Loyalty, perseverance, trust, and faith will take you far; friendship at its finest.

This read is short but not fast-paced; it's reminiscing out loud. In some ways it reminds me of Shonda Rhimes, "Year of Yes", except a far more condensed version. Take what's before you and simply say, "Yes"; see where those yes's take you.

I can hear the gold nugget moments of wisdom dropped within this slim volume featured within a motivational video found on YouTube such as those produced by Ben Lionel Scott out of Australia. That's the type of thing you'll find here, words that could be set to a musical background score; play the loop with your score of choice and the words become elevated.

When words are few they need to be perfect; there's no excuse for missed words within sentences with a book this brief. Editing should be tighter, words could be more plentiful, stories elaborated upon more fully; because of under-development, I've given 3 stars. It's good, not perfect; but, for posterity's sake it's great!

Reviewed by

Reading books and writing reviews brings with it every emotion under the sun; forever changing, forever changed, and I wouldn't have it any other way. May my words not only help fellow readers but also the authors of the books we read.


Four stories that shaped my life and music career.

These detailed stories are one hundred percent true and told to the best of my recollection. These stories have impacted my music career, been with me for over twenty-five years, and have impacted my life in ways that I could only speak about having gone through the process. Somehow through faith, persistence, and more persistence was I able to overcome obstacles that were far greater than my abilities.

The Replay

Have you ever met someone who even though you’ve only known them for a very short period of time, they have a lifelong impact on you? That person for me was a kid named Sam Love . The year was 1993, and I had just separated from the Air Force and was working at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, as an Air Force reservist . I got a job supporting a medical unit, and was assigned a mentor to show me the ropes, a kid from Florida named Sam Love . Sam was two years younger than me, but we immediately clicked and there was a bond .

Sam was a Christian kid, went to church on Sundays, and I could relate to that, because my mom Dorothy Emerson, a minister, kept us in the church . Sam didn’t curse, he didn’t drink or smoke, and I felt like he was a good balance to my life, which I will just say was a little hectic . Sam was a good-looking guy, and reminded me of Leroy Green from the movie The Last Dragon . Sam was also into karate and when we would go to the gym together, and I would lift weights and shoot hoops, Sam would be on the mat doing karate moves . He was in great shape .

Sam Love knew I could produce music, and he was always intrigued by that . He used to say, “Man, you should produce me .” I would say, “What do you do?” He would say, “Whatever,” and we would laugh . One day, we were in his room on base housing when the song “Poison” came on by Bell Biv DeVoe . This was still a huge record at the time . Sam said, “Let me show you something,” and somehow he was able to mute out most of the lyrics so that we could only hear the beat . Then he started rapping his own song over their beat .

We knew there would be a cost to record music, so Sam asked his mother back in Florida if she would invest in our first four-track studio . The next week, Sam headed to Florida, and picked up our new equipment . We were going to be officially in the game, Sam and I . He called me when he got to Florida and told me that he had picked up all the equipment, and that he was going to leave first thing in the morning . The next day came and I hadn’t heard anything from Sam, but I wasn’t worried because he was a good Christian kid; he was always good . When I hadn’t heard from Sam by 5:00 p .m ., I began to get nervous, so I went to work out . While at the gym, I was approached by a guy I knew asking me to join Primerica, a company that sells term life insurance . “Nah, man, I’m not interested in Primerica . One of my best friends is a Primerica agent, and he hasn’t been able to get me yet,” I said, and we both laughed . He asked, “Who’s your best friend?” I said, “Sam Love .”

Immediately, his face changed, and he looked down at the ground . He said, “Curt, I hate to tell you this, but Sam died earlier today .” I said, “No, not my guy Sam Love . I just talked to him last night . He’s only twenty, and he’s a good kid . He’s on his way back now .” I could tell by his look that he was being serious . I immediately left and placed a call, only to have it confirmed to me that Sam was gone . He had fallen asleep at the wheel in his Nissan 300Z and the car had ultimately crashed and burned .

The days after Sam’s death were very difficult . Sam was such a good spirit, a good energy; the way he handled his life, the way he loved God, mostly how he handled his temple . On this particular day, I was driving on the highway minding my own business, when something told me to turn to the left . When I turned to the left, I saw something that was unbelievable . I saw a smiling Sam Love in the same 300Z; it wasn’t burned, it was just the way I remembered it being when he left . My eyes started to tear up; I thought, How is this possible? He was two or three lanes over, and I couldn’t believe that I was seeing my old friend . I looked at him clearly through the tears, and he gave me the deuces, as if to say everything’s okay. I wiped my eyes and looked again, but the car was gone . I pulled over to the side of the road immediately, just to take in that experience .

How had I seen my dead friend Sam Love, how was that possible? I took it as a sign that he was still there with me and that he wanted me to continue on this journey . And ever since then, Sam has been by my side . As I’ve gone through this life journey, I’ve often wondered if I am living my truth . Am I living within my God-given talent?  

I always had a taste for music, and I DJ’ed from the age of thirteen until about sixteen . One Christmas, my dad and my second mom Brenda bought me two turntables and a mixer; I was elated . My dad said, “Boy, don’t be in here scratching up all my records .” I have vivid memories of playing the Cold Crush Brothers, the Beastie Boys, and Egyptian Lover – those were the times . I was that guy tuned in to all the hot hip-hop stations, making all the hot hip-hop tapes . Even though I was from Oakland, once I tapped in to the East Coast sound it was over . I can vividly remember hearing Chubb Rock for the first time and turning my group of friends onto him . One day, an older DJ friend of mine asked me if I wanted to cover the first thirty minutes of his set at a college party in Berkeley . He was the warm-up DJ for a bigger show . I was only sixteen, so a college party was a big deal . I had the equipment and my skills were on point, plus Berkeley was popping . If you know Berkeley, you know Blondie’s Pizza . It turned out that the featured rapper was the biggest East Bay artist at the time . I had a blast .

Years later, I’m in LA with my business partner Jay Johnson doing some work . We’re staying at a pretty swanky hotel, and I hear a familiar voice . I look over and sure enough, it’s the same artist from back in the day . At this point, he is a legendary artist with many accolades . I look at Jay, who knew the story, and I said, “Should I go and say something to him?” He was having a problem with his room and it probably wasn’t the right time, but I went over anyway . I walked over and said, “Hey, what’s up? I’m from the town; I DJ’ed for you once .” He glanced over at me, shook my hand, and kept it moving .

Fast forward to 2018, and the team and I are recording a newly signed artist who is recording a few songs written by myself and a Warner Chappell, singer-songwriter we are working with . One of the songs I wrote, “Make Believe,” was dedicated to my experience with Sam Love . The question is, did I see Sam or was it make believe? There was a part in the demo, where I mentioned Sam’s name for the first time ever on record . When I had finished, I went back to listen to the song and I noticed something very strange . When I got to the part where I said Sam Love’s name, there was something underneath my vocal . Another sound, which sounded like another voice . I muted all the tracks so I could just hear that vocal track, and sure enough, under my vocal at the point when I said Sam Love’s name, I could hear something . Nowhere else on the record did I hear anything else, except on that specific part of the track . To this day, I don’t know if Sam was reaching out trying to make contact, but I am no longer questioning whether I am living in my truth .

About the author

Curtis Leonard Johnson is the CEO and Managing Partner of Big Top Entertainment L.L.C., an online media company (formerly a recording and production label), and Executive Producer, Managing Partner, and Screenwriter for Dogs Den Films. Big Top Entertainment L.L.C. view profile

Published on May 03, 2020

Published by Amazon

7000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Reviewed by