Nas “Rewind” (2001)

Album: Stillmatic

Label: Ill Will/Columbia

Producer: Large Professor

Large Professor: “Nas likes to build. The session is not like, ‘Let’s play the beat and knock this out.’ We’ll sit there and talk, for hours. We’ll be going through shit, and the times, and shit we don’t even know about, like Motown, and I’d bring in magazines with Diana Ross or something, and we’d be like, ‘Oh shit, look at this.’ Just sitting there, talking. Wild shit. And then for ‘Rewind,’ [after all that talking], he was like, ‘Yo, play that beat again.’ [Laughs.] So I played the beat, and he was like, ‘Aiight, cool. Let’s jet.’

“Then the next day, we went back to the studio. He came in, and the whole fuckin’ song was written.[Laughs.] He didn’t [tell us the concept or anything about writing a story in reverse]. He was just like, ‘Yo, throw that beat up.’ And he went in, and did his rhyme, and then came out in regular Nas fashion, like, ‘Yo, that shit is aiight?’ And we’re in there like, ‘Yo, this shit is crazy!’ [Laughs.]

“There’s always, like, a warm-up period for us. After not talking, we gotta kind of talk for a little while and reconnect. But by this time, we had already got back and clicked. ‘You’re Da Man’ was done. We had even knocked out the ‘Stay Chisel’ joint. And then, ‘Rewind’ is really where he spread his wings, with the crazy, crazy ill mind-twister.’

“I had one loop in there on some Jamaica shit. I had this Lillo Thomas record in there at first. We were vibing off that shit, like, ‘Yeah, this shit is ill,’ with the ‘It’s Yours’ drums. It sounded like a Jamaican blend, like a Grandmaster Vic blend.

“Then I flipped the loop, because the loop on that reminded me of the loop on ‘Represent.’ It reminded me of that same instrument from ‘Represent.’ And since he was doing Stillmatic, I was trying to search for something that felt like that.

“Then he put the rhyme down, and then they started going to the City to mix and stuff like that. So I fell back, and he started doing ‘One Mic’ and all of those types of joints. Then I came to the studio, and he was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to mix it down.’ And shit was going backwards, with all those finishing touches and [sound effects].’ And I was like, ‘Ohhh!’ And that was all Nas. That was him, working with an engineer.

“That record, whooooooo>! You gotta really lock your brain [in when you’re listening to it to truly appreciate it], with the continuity and everything [that’s happening in reverse].”