Vicious "Nika" (1994)

Album: Destination Brooklyn

Label: Epic Street

DJ Clark Kent: “That was his biggest record. Saleswise, it was [bigger than ‘Freaks’]. He was very young, and his manager was Donovan Thomas, who was a cat I knew from the streets. But he was also Doug E. Fresh’s artist, who was a good friend. Doug E. is still my man.

“I got asked to do a record by Vivian Scott, who was an A&R over at Epic. She said, ‘I need you to produce a record on this guy Lil’ Vicious, the guy from ‘Freaks.’ Donovan’s his manager, and Doug E. is your man, so you gotta do it.’ So I was like, ‘Okay.’

 

That sample would cost people like $30,000, but we might have paid $2,500, or something stupid. We got it damn near for free. And we got some publishing off it, which was crazy, because you don’t get publishing off The Isley Brothers.

 

“I was fucking with the Isley Brothers [‘Between The Sheets’] sample, and I played the track for Vivian, and she was like, ‘That’s dope.’ And [she knew] she wouldn’t have a problem getting it cleared because we were cool with Ron Isley.

"See, that’s what you do back in the days, you go meet the artists. That sample would cost people like $30,000, but we might have paid $2,500, or something stupid.

We got it damn near for free. And we got some publishing off it, which was crazy, because you don’t get publishing off The Isley Brothers. Having relationships like that made it easy.

“Then, we get in the studio, and the first thing he came up with [was the hook]. It was some old reggae record’s melody, and he just freaked it over a new joint. And he was like a little writer, so he wrote the song. He wrote that. But he wasn’t as little as you thought, though. He just looked young. He might have been fifteen, but he looked like a baby.

“So he wrote the song, and it came out good. It wasn’t that confusing. It was more like a reggae chat over a really good beat. It didn’t take long, but I made him do it until he perfected it. It was probably the first time someone forced him to do what he had to do. He had to nail it.

 

When you get asked to produce a record for someone, it’s like an honor. Yes, you might have had some success on your own, which is why they’re coming to you. But you have to remember, they don’t have to come to you.

 

"It might have been 30, 40 takes to get it right. To me, it had to be right. He wasn’t necessarily [a seasoned studio artist], but by the end of the record, he was good.

“It worked for him. When you look at a record like that, all you want is for the record to work for him. That was my mission. When you get asked to produce a record for someone, it’s like an honor. Yes, you might have had some success on your own, which is why they’re coming to you. But you have to remember, they don’t have to come to you.

"So you want to do something that works for the artist so it’s not like they’re spending their money in vain, and one day they go, ‘Man, we wasted our fuckin’ money working with this guy.’ You want them to [use the record like they did, as a single], and say, ‘If there ever comes a time that we’re doing another album, we’re gonna go find him, the guy who gave us a hit record.’”

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