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Combat Jack Presents: True Stories Behind 25 Rap Classics

Nice & Smooth "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow" (1991)


Produced by: Greg Nice
"I had left Def Jam and started working for a lawyer who ran a small private practice in the industry. They hired me because they knew R&B was about to get gaffled by hip-hop and they needed a young rap head who understood the music. We'd just landed Nice & Smooth as a client; they were about to negotiate themselves out of their Sleeping Bag Records deal, where they had been signed, and into their Def Jam deal. Def Jam was actively growing from an indie to a major label and they were acquiring acts that had strong track records like EPMD. There was a lot of negotiating back and forth to close Nice & Smooth's deal. The process seemed endless, especially since the group hadn't been making new money and the money Def Jam wanted to pay looked like steak. 'Sometimes I Rhyme Slow' was the first single from their album, Ain't A Damn Thing Changed.

"I had to clear samples on that album, so it seemed like I listened to that song at least a million times before it first hit radio, solely because I was responsible for knowing what samples were on the entire album. When you're clearing samples, you have to get as much info as possible from the artist and the producers regarding outside sources for material, but you can imagine that that process rarely goes as smoothly as it sounds. So for like a full year, I had to listen to every song just to make sure that we as the legal team caught and fully negotiated all uncleared content before the finished album was released. Records didn't leak back then, not like they do today. I loved that record, then grew to hate it for how much I had to listen to it. When the album finally dropped, 'Sometimes I Rhyme Slow' took off and became the group's biggest hit ever, MTV loved it because of the Tracy Chapman 'Fast Car' sample. Nice & Smooth later went on to record one of my favorite records, 'DWYCK.' They were cool cats, although Greg Nice seemed a lil' bugged out at times."

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