Trackmasters Tell All: The Stories Behind Their Classic Records (Part 1)

Kool G Rap "Ill Street Blues" (1992)

Album: Live & Let Die
Label: Cold Chillin'

Poke: “After we did ‘On The Run,’ Cold Chillin’ asked if we had more records so we gave G Rap ‘Ill Street Blues.’ That’s when everyone was like, ‘OK, whoever they are, they got it. Let them get with G Rap and do what they need to do.’”

Tone: “G Rap was exactly who I thought he was. Not to go into detail, but he was going through some beef, some gangster drama when we met him. He was who we thought he was. He didn’t disappoint us in the studio. He wrote his own stuff. He wrote hot rhymes.

“It’s interesting because the ‘Ill Street Blues’ track was something that we had in our studio for a long time. We wouldn’t give it to anybody. It was a hot beat in the studio and we didn’t want to waste it on anyone. We used to just put it on and freestyle to it in the studio but we never gave it away until G Rap came along.”

 

We didn’t understand it because what Puffy was trying to do was brand new. He would talk about ‘Ill Street Blues’ and be like, ‘I want that record right there for Mary J. Blige.’ We would say that doesn’t make sense for Mary. But really what he wanted to do was basically put her over hip-hop breakbeats and make a hip-hop album. - Tone

 

Poke: “We were like, ‘Give it to the rappers' rapper.’ We went in and we were like, ‘This is it, this is the moment [to give the beat away].’ It’s one of those moments that you seize the right opportunity and it worked. What it did is it gave us the hip-hop producer stamp, like, ‘Yo, these guys got beats.’”

Tone: “At the time, [the hip-hop producers were] Large Professor, Buckwild, Pete Rock, DJ Premier—all those guys. It gave us that stamp as official producers but then we quickly turned into the ‘pop producers.’”

Poke: “We were always in the Uptown world from our work with Finesse & Synquis. When Puff Daddy was working with Mary J, Blige and Jodeci, we were messing with G Rap. So we missed those string of records. But we had an invite to go and make those records.

“We were like, ‘Do we want to mess with these new artists or do we want to mess with G Rap?’ Do we want to go mess with all these new artists or do we want to go mess with these top-tier artists?’ We said, ‘Let’s go mess with the top-tier artists.’ We went the G Rap route because none of those artists were out yet.”

Tone: “I remember when Puff came to us...”

Poke: “—Puff was like, ‘Gave us the Mary record! I want a rap record for Mary.’”

Tone: “We didn’t understand it because what he was trying to do was brand new. He would talk about ‘Ill Street Blues’ and be like, ‘I want that record right there for Mary.’ We would say that doesn’t make sense for Mary. But really what he wanted to do was basically put her over hip-hop breakbeats and make a hip-hop album. That was it. But we missed that boat.”

Poke: “No, but we got the very next boat.”

Tone: “That boat was the most important boat.”

Poke: “The most important boat.”

Tags: kool_g_rap
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