“Affirmative Action” f/ AZ, Foxy Brown, & Cormega
Produced by: Trackmasters, Dave Atkinson
Nas: “I wanted to put together a song. AZ was my man and he told me about Foxy Brown. He drove me to Brooklyn to meet her at her house. I wanted to put the whole Firm thing together and she fit perfectly. We did that song and I just wanted to show that I had a crew that was ready to go in and make music.
“That was the first song that we ever recorded and from there, I just saw the future being albums, tours, clothing lines, Firm athletic wear, we had all those meetings and all of that shit. But the politics of this manager, that manager, this label, that label. It just got in the way of what I thought could have been really huge. At the same time, it was just cool to do it.”
Nas met Foxy at the studio and she just was in love with him. She always looked up to him, she was always in awe of him. - Steve Stoute
Steve Stoute: “Nas was just so antisocial back then, he loved the idea he just didn’t like to work with anybody. Foxy was always coming around the studio. I had Tone from the Trackmasters sign Foxy. He found and discovered her. So she would always be around us so Nas met Foxy at the studio and she just was in love with him but it’s not like they fucked or anything. She always looked up to him, she was always in awe of him.”
Tone: “Well, one of the producers that we had under us [named Dave Atkinson], he’s one of those producers that likes to do records without samples but make them sound and feel like samples. The problem he was having was that it would always feel like there was a played instrument. So we had to do what we had to do to keep the feel of it being hip-hop still, because it felt like an orchestra.
“So we took it, started dirtying it up, and making it as grungy as possible. Once we got that element and we played it for Nas, that’s when he was like, 'Yo this sounds like a Firm record. This is The Firm’s kick off joint.' That set the tone and the sound for what The Firm was supposed to sound like.
“Nas always wanted to get his crew together, so he had been calling it The Firm for a minute. We had been trying different members out. We actually had 50 Cent in it for a little while. It just didn’t work out. We actually made a record too.”
Nas always wanted to get his crew together, so he had been calling it The Firm for a minute. We had been trying different members out. We actually had 50 Cent in it for a little while. - Tone
Poke: “Yeah. The record was out! It came out on mixtapes and the whole cycle. It was crazy. It was 50, Nas, and Nature. In fact, Mary J. Blige was going to be a part of The Firm too at one time. It was just a conversation. She came in, we entertained it. She did a record with us and Nas that we put out with Mary singing on it and everything. Nore slipped in there, Mobb Deep. We kind of made it like, a real Queens thing. That’s why we tried to put 50, because 50 was from Queens, as well.”
Tone: “Not to mention that we were trying to get 50 out there. [Laughs.]”
Poke: “We were trying to promote him, he was on our label, at the same time.”
Tone: “It was like family. It was like Nas and AZ were the big brothers, Nature was the cousin, and Foxy was the little sister that gave everybody headaches. So it really was like a family.”