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

The Notorious B.I.G. "Respect" (1994)

Album: Ready to Die
Label: Bad Boy/Arista

Poke: “It wasn’t me by myself. It was me and Tone who made that beat. The credits read [Poke for Trackmasters] but that was a me-for-my-team kind of deal. If Tone was making records, it was Tone for our team. It’s not like we didn’t do it as a Trackmasters unit.

“Sometimes, because we had certain relationships, we used to do records outside of Trackmasters. But it wasn’t really outside of that; it was just that I had the relationship so I did that. We all knew Puff. I put Poke for Trackmasters, which was our team.

 

It was me and Tone who made that beat. Back then, credits used to get f**ked up all the time. Labels would get it f**ked up, period. Especially if you didn’t have management or a good administration staff behind you making sure that everything is right. - Poke

 

“Back then, credits used to get fucked up all the time. Labels would get it fucked up, period. Especially if you didn’t have management or a good administration staff behind you making sure that everything is right.

“As we started building our staff and getting our company together, we got good administrators so credits would read better, publishing rights would read better. Everything would be under control. But if it’s just you and your man, especially if you’re 20 years old and you don’t know shit, everything would get fucked up. That’s why sometimes credits got messed up.

“If you don’t have a good staff, you can get railroaded really fast. That’s one of the things that artists and producers have big problems with trying to make records. It’s a daunting task but someone has to stay on top of it in order for you to get your just due.”

Tone: “I never liked ‘Respect.’ I didn’t like Diana King.”

Poke: “It’s just finding hot loops to use. Let’s try this kind of thing, press play, this shit is hot. Trying to fill niches on the album. Which slots work best kind of thing. And it just worked out.

“When Puff make records he tries to make what he considers the 15 best and keep 12. He was going through that whole thing. And it was really the tail end of the album and we were trying to find slots. Let’s do this kind of thing. And Biggie was a beast.”

 

I never liked ‘Respect.’ I didn’t like Diana King. - Tone

 

Tone: “He was a kid too though.”

Poke: “He was happy.”

Tone: “He was just rapping. Once the music business really becomes a part of your life, you start to realize some of it’s not fun anymore. I think when Biggie was making that album, being up in Scarsdale at Puffy’s house, he was just having fun. He was just spitting and taking direction. And that was it.”

Poke: “And you know, Puff whole thing was like, ‘Let me put everybody in the same house and get everything I need to so I don’t have to run around different places.’ So that’s what happens. Mary, Craig Mack, Biggie, Usher, everybody in the same fucking house. Let’s go. He put together the fucking unit. We played, we joked, we made records.

“When we made those records, we got snowed in Scarsdale at Puffy’s house. We couldn’t leave. We were there for two and a half, three weeks snowed in. It was a ridiculous snow storm. We could not get out.”

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