How Biggie and Jay Z first met

“Jay goes in the booth and does all of his verses differently. Some new, some different, but he left the spaces. Imagine him going in there going, ‘This is where I’m going to stop, and this is where I’ll pick it up.’ And B.I.G. is there while he’s doing this. And he comes out of the booth and goes to B.I.G., ‘Are you ready?’ And B.I.G.’s like, ‘What? No, I’m not ready. I need to take that home.’”

Straight copy and pasted from HIPHOPDX this is one of 16 stories of how Legendary DJ Clark Kent came to make some of his most classic hits from back in the gap. The classic being discussed here is “Brooklyn’s Finest” (1996) with Jay-Z featuring BIG.

HIPHOPDX DJ Clark Kent: “Basically, I was an A&R on Reasonable Doubt. We all were. That was our album. We all did it together. It wasn’t a credit or anything that I got. It was a team of people making records. You would go to every studio session.

—————– “Yeah, so B.I.G. wanted the beat, but I said it was Jay’s. He was like, ‘Nah Clark, I want that record, that beat is for me! You give everything to this nigga!’ That was his favorite words. But I’m like, ‘He’s my artist. What do you want me to do? You’re not my artist, you’re Puff’s artist.’

“So B.I.G. knew I was going to the Jay-Z session after the Mad Skillz session [which was when he first heard the ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ beat], so I’m like, ‘Just come to the studio and wait downstairs.’ He wanted to be on it, and I wanted him on it, but they’re not friends yet. They don’t know each other. But I’m going to make this work somehow.

“I go upstairs, and I record the track. And Jay goes in, and he does his verses. I remember the name of the record originally being ‘Once We Get Started.’ Jay says it was ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy,’ but he remembers the words ‘once we get started’ involved in it. I think that was what the record was supposed to be called.

“So he records it, and he comes out of the booth, and I go, ‘Yo, maybe you should put B.I.G. on it.’ And he’s looking at me like I’m dumb, like, ‘Why didn’t I say that from the beginning?’ But his reaction was also like, ‘I don’t know homie, so how am I going to put him on the record?’

“But then Dame is like, ‘We don’t know him, and I’m not paying Puff. Fuck that nigga.’

And I’m like, ‘You know I’m DJ’ing for him, you know he’s my man, you know what time it is.’ So Dame’s like, ‘Well, if you can get him, and he’ll do it for free, it’s all good. But if not, we ain’t paying Puff no money, fuck Puff.’ So I’m like, ‘Yo, I gotta go to the bathroom.’

—————- “I go downstairs, and I bring B.I.G. up. I’m like, ‘B.I.G., Jay. Jay, B.I.G.’

And everyone in the studio is looking at me like, ‘Oh, you’s a funny nigga. How you got the dude downstairs waiting?’ But I knew Jay would be quick in the booth, so I knew he wouldn’t be waiting long.

“Understand, when we were doing ‘Brooklyn’s Finest,’ we were mid-album, so I was playing B.I.G. shit Jay had done way before so he could see how ill he was. So once he got to the point where he knew how crazy Jay was, he was like, ‘Yeah, I’d rhyme with this guy.’

“So Jay was like, ‘Yo, play it.’ And once we played it, Jay was like, ‘Yo, you down to get on this?’ And B.I.G. was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll get on it.’ So Jay says, ‘Yo Clark, let it play.’ Then Jay walks in the booth and changes everything. Jay goes in the booth and does all of his verses differently. Some new, some different, but he left the spaces.

———- “Imagine him going in there going, ‘This is where I’m going to stop, and this is where I’ll pick it up.’ And B.I.G. is there while he’s doing this. And he comes out of the booth and goes to B.I.G., ‘Are you ready?’ And B.I.G.’s like, ‘What? No, I’m not ready. I need to take that home.’ ———

“So he took the song home with the spaces in them, and two or three months later he came back and did it the same day I was mixing it. But we’re in the studio, and no one wants to do a hook. There’s no hook.

“Jay is there too. And I’m like, ‘Jay, I need a hook.’ And he’s like, ‘Just scratch something. Either you get it done or we don’t [use it for the album].’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean? This has to get done. This is phenomenal.’

————

“So I’m trying to scratch everything in the world that says Brooklyn. But it just didn’t sound right. The beat is five bars, and on the fifth bar of the hook, it goes, ‘Brooklyn, Brooklyn!’ So I wanted to scratch that all the way through, but it just didn’t sound good. So I just used it for that part. But I had to think of different things to go in the four bars before it.

“So Jay goes, ‘I’ll be back.’ An hour goes by, and he doesn’t come back. Then B.I.G. disappears. Now it’s just Dame sitting in there. And I’m like, ‘What the fuck am I going to do?’ So I just let the record play and play and play, and I start writing down lines to try to come up with a hook. And I did.

“So we go to mastering, and it’s done, and they listen to it one time and they go, ‘Yo, this shit is crazy! Yo, who’s on the hook?!?’ And I’m like, ‘That’s me.’ They’re like, ‘That ain’t you.’ I’m like, ‘Okay.’ But I’m lucky. There was dumb pressure, and I wrote the hook, and everybody loved it.

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