Trackmasters Tell All: The Stories Behind Their Classic Records (Part 2)

Jay-Z & R. Kelly The Best of Both Worlds (2002)

Poke: “Everything that could have went wrong with that album did.”

Tone: “Listen, just so you know, everything went wrong in the 12th hour. We were done with the album, we were talking about shooting the video.”

Poke: “Listen, if he didn’t catch a charge, they woulda done the tour and the video, and that record woulda sold 10 million records. Hands down.”

Tone: “That album came about because I lied. I told Jay that Rob wanted to make an album and I told Rob that Jay wanted to make an album. They were fans of each other. Working with both of them, I knew how they felt about each other. So I said it to each of them and then just played the dumb middle guy. Then they spoke on the phone and they wanted to do it. All I had to do at that point was get tracks.

“They made the entire album without ever being in studio together. They were in studio one time together between both albums and that was for press. Other than that, it was me out in Chicago.

 

Rob was going on a cruise. He was going to be gone. I was like, ‘You can’t be gone. I gotta finish this record.’ Rob sat in the studio the night before he left on his cruise and put lyrics and choruses on like nine records. - Tone

 

"Rob was going on a cruise to like Africa or some crazy shit. He was going to be gone. I was like, ‘You can’t be gone. I gotta finish this record.’ We only had like three records done with both of their vocals. Rob sat in the studio the night before he left on his cruise and put lyrics and choruses on like nine records.

“I took those songs, went back to New York, and went to Jay’s studio. Jay was like, ‘Let’s go.’ I played him the songs and one by one he did his rhymes for every one of those songs. That was it. He was like, ‘This is easy’ because he only had to put one verse or sometimes two. But they never stepped in the studio together.

“Later on, we were getting ready to shoot a video. I went to the studio with Jay and he told me, ‘Yo, your boy...’ I was like, ‘Who are you talking about?’ And he was like, ‘Your boy...it’s not gonna happen.’ I was like, ‘What’s not gonna happen?’

“Then he starts going into the story [about the sex tape]. At that time, it didn’t even hit the media yet. Jay got a heads-up call early. He said, ‘There's a tape with your boy.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’

“Basically, someone gave Jay a heads-up that this tape was out there and that someone was about to leak it. Jay turned to me and said, ‘Yo, I can’t be attached to that.’ He didn’t know nothing about it, he didn’t know the girl. But he just said, ‘If that tape exists, I can’t have that.’

 

Someone gave Jay a heads-up that this tape was out there and that someone was about to leak it. Jay turned to me and said, ‘Yo, I can’t be attached to that.’ He didn’t know nothing about it, he didn’t know the girl. But he just said, ‘If that tape exists, I can’t have that.’ - Tone

 

“I couldn’t believe he got the call beforehand. He got a call like, ‘This is about to go down.’ Jay had someone in Chicago that was going to verify the tape for him because he didn’t see it himself. He was just like, ‘Go verify it for me.’ Like, is it real? And he got the call back and he was like, ‘Told you.’ There's no music video for that or Unfinished Business but both sold a million.

“The weird thing was that they were fans of each other. They admired each other from afar, but they came from two different worlds and they didn’t understand each other. Jay is the true definition of a New York guy and R. Kelly is the true definition of a Chicago guy. [Kanye is from Chicago] but is Kanye truly a Chicago guy? I see him being more someone who is very New York-ish in the style of music he listens to and his swagger.

“Jay and R. Kelly are two totally different people and they just couldn’t coexist. In his defense, Jay was actually okay because New York guys can adapt even if you’re a little weird. R.Kelly, he just couldn’t adapt. It just didn’t work. It was ugly.”

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