The Alchemist Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records (Part 1)

Nas "Book of Rhymes" (2002)

Album: God’s Son
Label: Columbia, Ill Will

The Alchemist: “That happened like how the song sounds, I couldn’t even front. We were sitting there one day, working on his album in Orlando. I had a bunch of beats going through the ASR.

"Nas had brought a bunch of books out to Orlando because I guess he writes in his off time. He was going through shit and I was playing a beat and he said, ‘Yo that shit would be ill right?’ And I said, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Yo I'm just going through rhymes.’

 

I wish I could say I had something more to do with that song than me making the beat. But, no, sorry guys. Give all the credit to Nas.

 

“I didn’t even know what he meant to be honest, then he just told the engineer to track the beat in. We tracked it in and he just did what he did. He went in there like he was on a mission. He knew what he was about to do. And it was ill!

“I remember later I wanted to spruce the beat up and put breakdowns in it and he was like, ‘Nah, it has a vibe like we’re really just in the studio and you put on a rough beat and I am just going through rhymes. If you put in breakdowns then its gonna sound too contrived.’ As a producer, I want to do all the bells and whistles but he made a good call.

“He's an artist and I don’t wanna reveal his magic tricks, but I remember after recording a few lines or so, he went back and recorded the sound of the paper flipping the page. When he stopped the line or crumpling the page.

“He's an artist in every sense. We all know from his track record how great he is and it’s not like he stumbled on it. I wish I could say I had something more to do with that song than me making the beat. But, no, sorry guys. Give all the credit to Nas.”

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