Jay-Z "Cashmere Thoughts" (1996)
Album: Reasonable Doubt
DJ Clark Kent: “‘Cashmere Thoughts’ was almost like a joke. You hear the way we’re talking back and forth on that record? That’s me and him talking pimp shit, because we did that all the time. ‘Cashmere Thoughts’ is from the name Cashmere Jones, which was Jay’s pimp name and alias. We were just bugging. [Laughs.]
‘Cashmere Thoughts’ is from the name Cashmere Jones, which was Jay’s pimp name and alias. We were just bugging.
“It was just one verse. So when he comes back in and goes ‘The ghetto’s, Errol Flynn...’ it’s because I was like, ‘Yo, give me some more. Let’s make this a whole song.’ He was like, ‘For what?’ I said, ‘Because it’s crazy, that’s why! It screams that you have to do the next verse.’
“‘I talk jewels and spit diamonds, all cherry like a hymen, when I’m rhymin’ with remarkable timin’.’ There’s two meanings. He’s the double-entendre king. The cherry always goes on top, so he’s saying, ‘I’m on top when I’m rhymin’ with remarkable timin’.’ But the cherry is pussy that’s never been touched, that means it’s unfucked with. That means, ‘I’m unfuckwittable.’ Come on, B.
“See, people don’t get how stupid that rhyme is. The people at The Source [that gave him the ‘Rhyme Of The Month’ for that verse] didn’t get how crazy that rhyme is. Nobody got that rhyme. But I did. I know what it means, because we talked about what he was saying.
"We talked about his raps. You don’t know how many conversations we had about the rhymes. That’s what me and him talked about the most. [That’s what the whole Decodedbook is]. It’s him being like, ‘You didn’t understand any of this, so let me help you with it.’
I said, ‘Yo dog, how do you maintain being the best?’ And Jay said, ‘Well, I think of Nas, and all these dudes that we think are the best, and I think about what they will say, make sure I don’t say it, and then say what they can’t say.’
“Only me and Jaz and Sauce Money really understood how he remembered his rhymes. He couldn’t write them, because he was on the move. So he remembered his rhymes by the rhythm that he said them in. From the flow. He would get rhythms from drum rolls in records.
“One day, we were in the burgundy Ac, and I said, ‘Yo dog, how do you maintain being the best?’ And this is before these records were out. He said, ‘Well, I think of Nas, and all these dudes that we listen to and think are the best, and I think about what they will say, make sure I don’t say it, and then say what they can’t say.’
"That’s putting yourself in their place, thinking their rhymes before they think them, and making sure you don’t say what they’re going to say, and then saying some shit that [they could never think of that’s better].
“[The way he picked tracks was] he would say, ‘I got an idea, this is the name of the song, do you have something for that?’ Or you would sit there and play tracks for him until he liked something. It’s funny because, once he liked something, the whole song was done.”