"She got a light-skinned friend, look like Michael Jackson Got a dark-skinned friend, look like Michael Jackson." —Kanye West
Plain Pat: “I don’t think anybody thought 'Slow Jamz' was gonna be a smash record. Twista wasn’t popping. And Kanye had a lot of records, like Dilated Peoples’ ‘This Way,’ that didn’t necessarily become big just because Kanye did it. It coulda came and went, but there was something about that song.”
Consequence: “The funny thing about that is how he got the beat. I had this skit called ‘The Baby Pops’ on my mixtape. I was like, ‘I need a joint to talk wild shit on.’ He was like, ‘Yo it’s this Luther record called ‘Home’ you should fuck with.’ He made a beat out of it and then that was ‘Slow Jamz.’ Another one—which was over Lenny Williams’s ‘Cause I Love You’—that turned into Twista’s ‘Overnight Celebrity.’ Lightning was striking all over the place but little did we know.”
"Slow Jamz" samples Luther Vandross' "A House Is Not A Home" (1981)
Twista: “Kanye was like, ‘I want to hear you on this song right here.’ He explained the concept and I remember pacing in the studio, thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to name a bunch of different classic singers in this song right here.’ Jamie Foxx had nothing to do with it yet.
Coodie: “We wind up going to Jamie Foxx house and Kanye was telling him how they’re gonna name different iconic artists that sung slow jams. Jamie Foxx was in the booth getting loose but it wasn’t going well. But when I went in the booth with that camera, he seen that camera and started performing instead just singing. It’s almost like you’re not funny ‘til you go on that stage.”
Dame Dash: “I was in L.A. and Kanye came by The Bel-Air like, ‘I just did a record with Jamie Foxx.’ I was like, ‘Why? I hate when actors sing.’ But that shit just worked. He knew how to bring those banging hits.”
J. Ivy: “At the time, me and Aisha Tyler had the same attorney, so I brought her to the hotel where Kanye was staying at.”
Aisha Tyler: “I was asked if I wanted to guest on the album right after he had his jaw opened back up. He looked very different than he does now, he had lost a lot of weight after the accident. I went over to Record Plant, hung out, listened, fucked around a bunch until we got an idea that he liked, and then we laid it down. I honestly don't remember [if I got paid for being on the album.]
Of course I wanted to do the video when Kanye asked me. But I was very specific that I’m not a video vixen. —Aisha Tyler
“Of course I wanted to do the video when Kanye asked me. But I was very specific that I’m not a video vixen. Girls in hip-hop videos are accessories and I didn’t want to be an accessory, I didn’t want to come in and drop anything down or back anything up. So I said ‘I’ll come in and I’ll be Kanye’s friend.’
"He could have gotten another girl to do it, and it would have been fine with me. But he was like, ‘Well why don’t we play cards and we’ll let you win.’ I was actually on the celebrity poker tour at that time, so it fit me. People still hit me on Twitter all the time, ‘I just saw you in the Kanye West and Twista’s video.’”
Twista f/ Kanye West & Jamie Foxx "Slow Jamz (Music Video Version)" (2004)
Gee Roberson: “Kanye put up his own money for the 'Through The Wire' video and we were working the record ourselves for eight months. We go to Kanye, like, ‘We need something with way more money behind it as a single.’ Meanwhile, Hip Hop and I accepted a position to be the Senior VPs of A&R at Atlantic Records. Atlantic gave us a list of artists to work on, one of them was Twista. Twista been out for years, he’s got no single, they didn’t know what to do with him.
“I’m thinking, I have to fulfill two sides of the coin. Let me see if we can give this record to Twista so it’s on Twista’s album, but we could keep it for Kanye’s album, and we work out some type of grace period. That way, Atlantic pays for the video but it also gives Kanye some real exposure. Me, Hip Hop, Jay-Z, and Kanye had this pow wow. Jay Z and Dame pow wowed with Craig and Atlantic. Craig Kallman at Atlantic was like, ‘Let’s try to work it out.’”
We had a Twista version because Atlantic was paying for everything, but then we had a Kanye version too. That was the agreement. That’s also why Twista’s Kamikaze album came out two weeks before ours. I’m thinking, ‘This is great.’ But then... Twista’s album came out and sold over 312,000 its first week...
Twista: “When Kanye played it back for me [with Jamie Foxx on it] I was like, ‘That’s phenomenal.’ But what took it to the next level was when Jay-Z was like, ‘What’s up with that song that you and Kanye got? That ‘Slow Jamz’ song?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, he asked me to get on it.’ He said, ‘I think that’s a good look. That should come out as a first single for both of y’all.’ So Jay-Z was actually the one that put ‘Slow Jamz’ being a single into effect.
Gee Roberson: “We had a Twista version because they’re paying for everything, but then we had a Kanye version too. That’s also why Twista’s Kamikaze album came out two weeks before ours—that was part of the agreement. Since they were paying for everything, they would get the look. I’m thinking, ‘This is great.’ But then...Twista’s album came out and sold over 312,000 its first week...”
Twista: “That song was definitely the biggest thing that happened in my career. It didn’t hit me until we got to a couple of radio stations and they was telling me how ‘Slow Jamz’ was getting thousands of spins and people were calling about it.”
Gee Roberson: “I’m shitting bricks like, ‘I’m in trouble. I just took a record off the first artist that I manage and gave it to my 9-5er job and Twista did over 300K. I can’t come out and do 200K.’ [Laughs.] I’m saying an unlimited amount of prayers.
"That’s why I was a nervous wreck when it came to 'All Falls Down' and getting the Jay Z feature because of the timing—Twista’s album was coming out and I couldn’t risk The College Dropout being released far apart from that. Especially with what 'Slow Jamz' was doing in real time. So you can imagine my life as I was going through it. Those things mess you up mentally. But God blessed us with a 440,000 plus first week.
“But think about it—we could have ended up working at Sony or Capitol or Bad Boy. Of all the jobs to take, we took a job at Atlantic and ironically one of Atlantic’s artists that’s in need of a single is on the album by the artist that we manage. The timing of that is nothing but God.”
No ID: “When Atlantic began to press that record and it went to No. 1, that gave confidence to Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella to push Kanye all the way. That was the moment we knew the machine was behind him and there was no question it was gonna work.”