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

The Notorious B.I.G. "Who Shot Ya?" (1995)

Album: N/A
Label: Bay Boy

Poke: “That’s me and Nasheen Myrick [from The Hitmen] on that record but they fucked up the credits. I don’t stress that. I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s over. We go on and we make more records.’ It’s a lot of things that people don’t know that we were involved in, like we had some indirect or direct influence on that event.

“We’re not the type of guys that will go out there and just splatter that all over the walls. Things didn’t work out that way because of dumb shit that happens. It could be political as well—I don’t know, but I’m not going to beef about 20-year-old politics. It’s definitely a mark in time.

“What happened was, Nashiem Myrick was an up-and-coming producer. He wanted to get in. He had a lot of great ideas but he didn’t know how to put the record together. He didn’t know how to ‘produce’ a record.

 

That’s me and Nasheen Myrick [from The Hitmen] on that record but they fucked up the credits...Nashiem Myrick was an up-and-coming producer. He had a lot of great ideas but he didn’t know how to put the record together. Puff tells me, ‘Yo, Poke, get with Nash and try to fix this s*it. I know there’s something there. It sounds crazy, but the drums is light and everything is f**ked up.’ - Poke

 

“So Puff tells me, ‘Yo, Poke, get with Nash and try to fix this shit. I know there’s something there. It sounds crazy, but the drums is light and everything is fucked up.’ There was a girl talking on the beat. Puff couldn’t get that out of the record.

“So I had to go in and do what I do to get the drums out and put our shit in. And I had to do what I do to get that girl’s voice out. You can still hear it, but it’s low. We did all of that to try and get the whole beat right.

“I remember it was maybe 7 PM and Big was coming in around 9 PM. Puff was like, ‘Let’s get this shit together before he gets here because I just want to get him in. I want to make Flex.’ I remember him saying that, ‘I want to make Flex.’

“So Big comes in, Big goes in, and Big does the whole fuckin’ record. And we brung the DAT tape of that to Hot 97 and Flex played it that night. Puff is brilliant at getting everybody amped for an event or a presentation. So they went straight to Hot 97, Flex went in, and that was it. All in the same same night. Puff was innovative.

“The song was made way before [2Pac got shot]. It had nothing to do with him. Big was just in his element.”

Tone: “It was just so ironic. Who starts off with, ‘Who shot ya?’ When you think about it, that line doesn’t even make sense in the record. It’s just a question. And Puff was the greatest ad-libber ever. He just did it.”

Poke: “They was just wilding. It was just a wild-out record.”

Tone: “[All our records sounds different because] we never wanted to use the same sounds over. If I made a record, I would say to myself, ‘I used that sound on the last record, I’ma use a different kick or a different snare this time.’ When we introduced the clap to the industry, with the R. Kelly records, we were trying to get away from it when people were embracing it. We never wanted you to just say, ‘That’s a Trackmasters record.’

“We have this phrase, we call ourselves TM—that’s Tailor Made—because we always to make records specifically for the artist. I never wanted to cheat the artist. I never wanted to give him something that sounded like an artist that we worked with before. So in a sense, when you say our records sound different, they’re different because of reasons like that. We always try to use new sounds to stay creative.

 

Thinking back, when I think about the success producers have had in all genres, they all kind of keep to their sound. That’s something that we never did. Even producers that I idolized like Teddy Riley. I’m like, ‘Yo this motherf**ker never changes his snare.’ - Tone

 

“Thinking back, when I think about the success producers have had in all genres, they all kind of keep to their sound. That’s something that we never did. For example, Premier had a sound. Even though he used different kicks and snares, he chopped his shit like no other. He always had his DJ scratch in there, that was his signature. So you knew the way that thing was chopped up like, ‘Oh, that’s Premo.’

“Even producers that I idolized like Teddy Riley. I’m like, ‘Yo this motherfucker never changes his snare.’ But I look up to him. Out of the producers that I idolize, it’s Teddy Riley, Premo, Dr. Dre. Those are guys that I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’ And Timbaland, I don’t idolize him as much, but I always admired what he did to music when he put his shit down.”

Poke: “Timbaland came from left field. He came out of DeVante’s camp, but he had his own swing and sound. His swing changed the game.”

Tone: “And Timbaland told us that too. He said, ‘When you hear my sound, it’s going to change everything.’ He told me that one night at a party. He wasn’t lying. Even to this day. Timbaland’s sound is Timbaland’s sound.”

Poke: “You know it when you hear it.”

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