Talib Kweli Breaks Down His 25 Most Essential Songs

Talib Kweli f/ Mary J. Blige "I Try" (2004)

Album: The Beautiful Struggle
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Rawkus / Geffen Records

Talib Kweli:“‘I Try’ was a record that John Legend was on. I had already had John Legend on the album doing ‘Around My Way’ and I felt that was a stronger hook for him to be singing. So I was trying to figure out who I was going to put on ‘I Try’ and I decided on Mary J. Blige because she was on Interscope and I was putting out the album through Interscope.

 

Jimmy Iovine was like, ‘Mary is over. You don’t want Mary; you want Mya.’ This was a few months before Mary put out her highest selling album ever on Interscope. I love Mya, she's dope, but I grew up on Mary J. Blige. So I was like, ‘No, I want Mary.’

 

“Jimmy Iovine was like, ‘Mary is over. You don’t want Mary; you want Mya.’ This was a few months before Mary put out her highest selling album ever on Interscope. I love Mya, she's dope, but I grew up on Mary J. Blige. So I was like, ‘No, I want Mary.’

“Then, someone I knew, knew Kendu Bay. And Mary had recently gotten involved with Kendu. So I called Kendu up and he was like, ‘Yeah, Mary’s a fan.’ A couple weeks later Mary was in the studio and she heard the record and was like, ‘Yeah, I really like it.’

“She spent two hours laying it but she was trying to get to Crustacean, which is a restaurant in L.A.. But I remember she was like, ‘I’m trying to get to Crustacean, so I have a couple hours left. Let’s knock this out.’ And she was a consummate professional. She was dedicated to sounding great on that record. She definitely did it in a way where it’s like, ‘OK, you like it? We good? OK, I’m going to get some crabs.’”

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