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

Prodigy "Keep it Thoro" (2000)

Album: H.N.I.C
Label: Relativity

The Alchemist: “[When I first got with Mobb Deep] P was working on H.N.I.C.. It was good timing because I had the right joints to fit for him. After we made it, me and Twin had a copy of it on cassette. So we went to the Puerto Rican day parade with a boombox and we were walking around Central Park banging that shit. Everyone came up and was like, ‘What is that son?’ This was before it came out so we were trying to stunt.

“When we did the vocals, P kinda had a cold. He was under the weather, you can hear it in his delivery, he was a little more nasal than usual. I wanted to bring the break down in more but he was like, ‘Nah yo, because when it comes in it’s special.’ He made a good call on that one because when it does come in, it is special. That was one of those.

 

I remember after the record came out Chris Lighty was like, ‘Yo, the song could be bigger if it had a hook, we need a hook for radio’ and I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ and that’s when I learned about radio.

 

“It was a good feeling to be living in New York and having a song like ‘Keep It Thoro.’ I never really feel like I made it. The song didn’t affect my confidence of what I can do, I had something to prove, but that definitely added to my confidence as far as being able to make something that would translate to New York City.

“On top of all that, it was dope because it got heavy radio airplay all day with no chorus. It was a song on the radio, but not a huge radio hit. I remember after the record came out Chris Lighty was like, ‘Yo, the song could be bigger if it had a hook, we need a hook for radio’ and I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ and that’s when I learned about radio.

“When radio does call research on a song they loop up 10 seconds of a song for the listeners and do surveys. What part do they loop? The hook. So if a song doesn’t have a hook, they don’t even know what to loop so they were like we need a hook.

“Later, they got Havoc in the studio to put a hook on it and there's even a version out that ended up going out to radio with Hav’s hook but it just didn’t do anything. The hook was dope too but the song was already powerful enough. Every now and then a song comes through without a hook. It was still a hit, to what degree of a hit who’s to say, but I feel like that was one of those records. Every time we do that song live, it never fails.”

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