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

LL Cool J f/ Boyz II Men "Hey Lover" (1995)

Album: Mr. Smith
Label: Def Jam

Tone: “LL was managed by Chris Lighty at the time.”

Poke: “Chris Lighty was the A&R at Def Jam and we’ve known Chris for forever.”

Tone: “He basically came to us and said, ‘Y’all gotta fix LL.’ We were like, ‘Cool.’ We were just in Chung King Studios that night working on some other project. We played LL the ‘Hey Lover’ beat and he lost his mind, like, ‘Yo, this is the record! This is the joint!’ In that conversation we said, ‘Who’s the rapper and who’s the singer?’ Because we always wanted to make event records.

“LL wanted Boyz II Men, which was unheard of. Like, Boyz II Men is not singing on anybody’s rap record. Somehow they got Boyz II Men on the phone and they were shooting a video in Philly. Right there we said, ‘Let’s get in the car, go down, and play them the track.’

 

Chris Lighty basically came to us and said, ‘Y’all gotta fix LL.’ - Tone

 

“We drove down to Philly with a cassette tape and ran up on Boyz II Men. We got into Wanya Morris’ white Range Rover, played the track, and LL started spitting the rhymes to him. He was like, ‘I love this, let’s do it right now!’

“We went over to their studio in Philly. We didn’t know that we were about to record a record that night. We were not prepared. I just had the track on the cassette. We went into the studio and I went looking for my disk and I was like, ‘I don’t have the files.’ It wasn’t a Pro-Tools era, you couldn’t email shit. I just had the cassette.

“I fucking put the cassette in the tape deck and looped it. I looped it into the MPC, they bounced it to a 2-inch reel, and that’s what you hear on the radio now. We didn’t touch it after that. That’s the record.

“After that, LL was just like, ‘I like you guys, I like how you lock in. I just wanna lock in with you guys and make a record.’ That record was like a blur to me.”

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