Produced by: Trackmasters
Nas: “That was basically what I was around at the time. Guys wasn't diving into the music industry trying to get paid off music, they were still hustling. I had one foot still in the street so I was the voice for the people I was hanging with. It didn’t matter what this guy and that guy were talking about, I was talking about reality.
“I wasn’t doing the songs and then going off to my mansion and never seeing anyone anymore. My ride to the studio and back was still in drug dealer cars. I was still way in a place where I didn’t need to be. I was hanging out all over Queens, Brooklyn, Harlem, parts of the Bronx. Everywhere.
“[I sang the hook on that and] I was definitely the first guy from my era that was singing. People wanted to hate until Biggie sang ‘Player Hater.’ He stopped any hate that was about to start. When they saw him do it, they were like, ‘Okay, I guess this is the way things are going now.’”
I wasn’t doing the songs and then going off to my mansion and never seeing anyone anymore. My ride to the studio and back was still in drug dealer cars. - Nas
Tone: “A lot of people don’t realize that Nas was really one of the first rappers who opened that door and made it okay to sing. On Big’s very record, he was singing the hook. Nas opened the door for that. Nas is a very melodic guy. He always loved to do things like that. Even on 'Black Girl Lost,' that has nothing to do with us or Steve Stoute, that’s just him being creative and bringing out who he really is.
“We also tried to incorporate original hip-hop. If you listen to original hip-hop—like Crash Crew and all those guys—they were all singing. So we tried to incorporate that type of feel on record. It isn’t that they’re trying to be Luther Vandross, they’re just harmonizing. They’re giving melody to the record. So you can sing along when the hook comes, as opposed to just being on stage and pointing the finger and trying to just rhyme. You get the audience interaction when they can sing the record along with you.”
Poke: “At the time, Tupac had come out with the same sample. We had no idea he was doing that. Some people ask, 'Did Tupac take that idea from Nas, or did Nas take that idea from Tupac? What’s the deal with that?' They were just being creative on the West Coast and we were being creative on the East Coast, it just so happened to play out like that. That was a total coincidence.”