Produced by: Nas & Trackmasters
Nas: “That was my idea. It just came to me, it was like, ‘How could I not do it?’ That time period was when great rappers were quieting down and here are these new guys. Me being one of them, that was my story.
“If you listen to the beginning of Ready to Die, Biggie tells you a story. We had stories to tell because we had to explain what we were doing because how are we here now? We had the greatest rappers that could rap dominating the ‘80s and now here we come, so you had to say who you was.”
If you listen to the beginning of Ready to Die, Biggie tells you a story. We had stories to tell because we had to explain what we were doing because how are we here now? - Nas
Tone: “Nas wanted to portray this whole symbolism of being taken out of handcuffs and being set free, so to speak. So we were taking the N.W.A. approach, with the interludes and all the sound effects and theatrics of what it was, so it felt like he was actually in that situation.
“All the sample stuff and the music, that was pretty much our concept. The way we would do it is, we would introduce songs to Nas—some with hooks, some without hooks—to get him comfortable, so we could articulate properly the vision that we were all trying to accomplish.”
Steve Stoute: “We all worked on the album cover together but it was Nas’ idea. He started as a kid and then we showed him with the same shit as a man. There was no fly album covers that were thoughtful before that. The Illmatic cover didn’t inspire Biggie, Biggie jacked it. That was it. Then after that we went right into some great work for I Am... we molded his face with King Tut.”