DJ Clark Kent Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records (Part 2)

Slick Rick "Killa Niggaz" (1999)

Album: The Art of Storytelling

Label: Def Jam/IDJMG/Universal

DJ Clark Kent:“You gotta hear the original to that. It started off slow, and then speeded up [like ‘How We Roll’]. There’s a whole slow part playing in beginning from the sample that I chopped. I let the sample play, and then you could see how I chopped it to make the beat.

 

Trackmasters were playing me 50 Cent records, but he sounded just like Mase on them. I was like, ‘That’s not the 50 Cent I know.’ 50 must’ve heard what I said, because [a week or so] later, I saw 50 at a session at the Hit Factory and he played me ‘Life’s On The Line’ and ‘How To Rob,’ and I was like, ‘That’s the 50 I know.’

 

“Anyway, Slick Rick comes home from jail. Def Jam says, ‘Damn, we gotta get this album done on you.’ Def Jam goes, ‘Hey Clark, Slick Rick respects you.’ I’m like, ‘How? I never even really talked to him?’ They go, ‘Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna send you both to Bearsville, New York.’ [They did that] to make him make records.

“It was a dope studio though. They were in barns, and it had the ill loft. Me and my two homies, basically my nephews, we went up there, and I just made beats all day. And there was this cabin next door where him and his wife stayed.

“Trackmasters had the other studio up there next door in the barns, and 50 Cent was there. And they were playing me 50 Cent records, but I thought they were Mase records, because he sounded just like Mase on them. I was like, ‘That’s not the 50 Cent I know.’ Because I remember hearing 50 on some Jam Master Jay shit that was hard.

“50 must’ve heard what I said, because [a week or so] later, I saw 50 at a session at the Hit Factory, and he’s like, ‘Listen to this shit.’ And he played me ‘Life’s On The Line’ and ‘How To Rob,’ and I was like, ‘Those shits are hard. That’s the 50 I know.’

 

Slick Rick was like, ‘I don’t feel like these rappers deserve to hear me rhyme.’ He really looks at other rappers like they’re crumbs. He was like, ‘Outkast.’ I was like, ‘You don’t like Jay-Z?’ He was like, ‘He’s alright.’ I’m like, ‘What?!?’ It always baffled me when motherfuckers didn’t automatically go, ‘Oh, no, he’s ill.’ He’s like, ‘These rappers are bums.’

 

“Anyway, I’m in there making beats, and for like five days straight, Rick doesn’t even come out of the cabin. I knock on his door, and I’m like, ‘You gonna come listen to some music?’

He comes to listen, and he’s like, ‘I like this, I like that, I like this.’ So I’m like, ‘You wanna do some shit?’ And he was like, ‘I don’t feel like these rappers deserve to hear me rhyme.’ He really looks at other rappers like they’re crumbs.

“I asked him, ‘What rappers you like?’ And he was like, ‘Outkast.’ I was like, ‘You don’t like Jay-Z?’ He was like, ‘He’s alright.’ I’m like, ‘What?!?’ It always baffled me when motherfuckers didn’t automatically go, ‘Oh, no, he’s ill.’ He’s like, ‘These rappers are bums.’ I’m like, ‘ Ohhhhh! Okay, zone out, and let’s make these records.’

“He was the best storyteller. And he wanted beats that were super simple, with a good speed to it, that didn’t have anything crazy happening [so he could tell his stories]. The only one that he took with something crazy happening was ‘Kill Niggaz.’

“I forced him to do ‘Kill Niggaz.’ The beat was so angry. I was like, ‘Please, you gotta talk shit.’ He was like, ‘Why? Let me tell my stories.’ I was like, ‘No, you must talk shit.’”

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