Album: Train of Thought
Label: Rawkus Records / Universal Music Group
Talib Kweli: “The Reflection Eternal album was completely recorded and done and we handed it to Rawkus and we were ready to go. Then Rawkus was like, ‘There’s no single that we feel comfortable with on this album,’ and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? ‘Move Somethin,’ that’s the single.’ They were like, ‘It’s cool, but we feel like there should be another record. So you gotta go in the studio and make another record with a single in mind.’
“This pissed me off because I felt like I put my heart and soul into the album. I’m like, ‘Who the fuck are these fucking rich white dudes telling me that I don’t have a single? What the fuck do they know?’ But we went in the studio anyway.
“The beat for ‘The Blast’ was very old. My manager at the time, Corey Smyth, was stressing me like, ‘You guys need to make a record that says how to pronounce Kweli’s name, because no one knows how to do it.’ Hi-Tek was like, ‘Well this record kind of sounds like they’re saying ‘Kweli.’’ And Corey was like you should rap on that beat and make a record and say Kweli over and over again.
When Rawkus asked me to make single] it pissed me off because I felt like I put my heart and soul into the album. I’m like, ‘Who are these rich white dudes telling me that I don’t have a single? What do they know?’ But we went in the studio anyway.
“My whole thing was, I was really opposed to the idea of making a single for the label, so the original version of ‘The Blast,’ and the version that’s on the album, it just has my one verse and Hi-Tek’s verse on it and then it was done.
“Then the label was like, ‘We need to do a third verse for a video version. We can’t sell a record that’s only two minutes long and only has two verses.’ So even though that’s not the version that’s on the album, we ended up doing a third verse version of it.
“Rawkus, they were right about that. As soon as that record came out it took off for us, especially on the West Coast. Both Snoop Dogg and DJ Quik had radio shows on The Beat, 92.3 at the time, and those two guys were very very instrumental in spreading that record. They both played that record a lot on the radio show. Hi-Tek worked a lot with Snoop Dogg over the years, and that was the start of it.
“Hi-Tek has made way more money with Snoop and 50 Cent than he has with me and Yasiin. Me and Yasiin put him on the map, but when you go to his studio in Cincinnati, it’s G-Unit plaques that line the wall.
“I use Hi-Tek as an example when people try to tell me the difference between what I do and what 50 Cent or Dr. Dre or Snoop Dogg does. I’m like, ‘It’s all hip-hop.’ They like Hi-Tek beats just like I like Hi-Tek beats. It ain’t that different.”