Buckwild Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

The legendary producer talks about working with Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, and many more.

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Among producers, there are those at the forefront who seemingly have nothing but smash singles on their resume. Then there are those who may not touch the charts all the time, but still offer a steady stream of notable bangers. Buckwild, the Bronx-raised DJ-turned producer, who first entered the game as a beatsmith under the guidance of Lord Finesse and is a member of the legendary hip-hop collective Diggin' In The Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.), boasts a discography that’s closer to the latter.

Despite shaping a bulk of Big L and O.C.’s debut efforts in the ‘90s, producing album cuts with much fanfare (The Notorious B.I.G.’s “I Got A Story To Tell”), Billboard chart toppers that were crowd favorites (“Whoa” by Black Rob), and providing beats for some of the industry’s most prestigious names (Nas, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, The Game, & Fat Joe), Buckwild’s storied résumé has rarely been discussed in detail, until now.

On a chilly Sunday afternoon, Complex met up with the veteran at one of his favorite record spots in the Lower East Side, Big City Records, and strolled down memory lane revisiting the stories behind his biggest tracks.

As told to Jaeki Cho (@jaekicho)

O.C. "Time's Up" (1994)

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Buckwild: “My favorite cut off that album was ‘O-Zone.’ I first linked up with O.C. on The Source tour through Finesse. O.C. was on ‘Fudge Pudge’ by Organized Konfusion. So I ended up doing all of O.C.’s demos. Some of the songs on Word…Life were actually his demos. I was kind of like the guinea pig.

“O.C. liked the beats I had and we got with Serch, who I think was managing O.C. at the time. MC Serch had both Nas and O.C. at the same time. Serch heard the songs and he thought they were really dope.

“We were doing a lot of things people weren’t really doing. At the time, everyone was straight jazzy. The only jazzy record we had on that album was ‘Word…Life.’ Everything else was hard, chopped up, and grungy. Q-Tip was jazzy, Primo was jazzy, even Pete Rock was jazzy. We did something different because we didn’t really have the money to buy these expensive records, so we just used what we had that were bits and pieces.

“Taking the sample, chopping it up, adding the horns, and playing it out and experimenting with SP-1200. I think O.C.’s album opened up a whole other way for a lot of dudes to do beats if you look at that time.

“Even with that album it was exhausting. O.C. and I would be in the studio and we would fight over things. I would be like, ‘Yo, you need to do this.’ And he would say, ‘Nah, I don’t like that beat. That’s wack.’ We cut so many records it wasn’t funny. If I had all the reels.

“For instance, the Faith Evans record ‘I Love You’ was actually an O.C. beat. It was a beat we had some time between Word…Life and Jewelz. I used to tell him how dope the record is, and he'd be like, ‘This shit is wack.’ He broke the DATs, and said, ‘I don’t want to hear that record no more.’ This is how our sessions would be. That’s why I liked working with him. I brought the best out of him, and he brought the best out of me. We would sit there and argue.”

Organized Konfusion “Thirteen” (1994)

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Buckwild: “That was Monch’s solo record. It’s funny, Pharoahe Monch never played that beat for Prince Po. He was like, ‘He’s not getting on this.’ When I first heard them on ‘Fudge Pudge’ I became a fan instantly. ‘Thirteen’ is another one of those records that would go over an average thug person’s head, lyrically. Because he’s talking about the scientific table of contents and all that other shit. So if you’re smart, you’re going to love the record, but if you’re dumb, you’re going to be like, ‘Who’s this smart dude?’

“Monch completely morphs into someone different when he gets in the booth. You can tell he comes into one with the music. He’s also a perfectionist who cares about even the smallest syllable. Both Monch and Prince are producers. So when you’re in the studio with them, you don’t have to tell them what to fix, because they already see the problems you see. With Organized I can say those were some of the easiest sessions. They were more artists than dudes who could just rap."

Big L “Put It On” (1994)

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Buckwild: “Around 1993, I was working as a DJ, and doing mixtapes. And this guy D-Wiz was like, ‘Yo, I’m going to bring my boy L.’ He brought L in, and we heard him rhyme, and he was crazy. L told me, ‘Yo, you know Finesse? Tell him to come down. I just want to kick one rhyme. If he don’t like it, he doesn’t have to hear no more.’ Then next week we brought Finesse down. [Laughs.] And Finesse heard him rhyme, and the rest was history.

“L was funny. He’s a comedian. So is Finesse. We always have good times together because it’s always jokes and snaps. I realized a lot of these great artists really have a comedy side to them. If L didn’t make it in music, he definitely could’ve made it as a comedian.

“’Put It On’ was one of the last songs that made the album. When L got his deal that’s when I first started toying around with beats. It was around the same time as O.C. and Organized Konfusion. L would always shoot the beats down like, ‘Yo, that shit’s wack dawg.’ [Laughs.] L was always 100% honest. And the fact that he was so honest, it drove you to do better.

“So when he did pick some of the beats, which were ‘8 Iz Enuff,’ ‘Da Graveyard,’ those are some of the early beats he picked. But then after the album was done, Columbia wanted more and he came back. By then, I done had Artifacts records and the O.C. album was almost done. So me doing beats, I was getting better. So that’s the time I did ‘Put It On.’ I also did ‘Danger Zone’ around then.

“L was very picky. To me, the pickiest rappers are Finesse, Nas, and Big L. But it’s comedy when we’re not recording. Then in the booth, it’s straight business. I see a lot of kids saying, ‘L was one of the greatest, if he was alive, he’d be giving Jay-Z a run for his money.’ And he would. Around the same time that L was supposed to sign to Roc-A-Fella, I was dealing with Roc management. If L signed, I probably would’ve stayed there.”

Brand Nubian f/ Busta Rhymes “Alladat” (1994)

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Buckwild: “That was right before Puba wanted to do a solo record. I remember Sadat picking the beat. And he wanted a beat for a solo. Next thing you know, Busta gets on the record for the hook. I knew Puba’s cousin Jeff, and Diamond D was tight with all of them, which led me to get tighter with them. I remember we did that in Chung King. And I got to say working with Sadat, it’s always something. He’s very unique. Nobody can have his flow, voice, or style.”

Kool G Rap f/ Nas “Fast Life” (1995)

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Buckwild: “I met G Rap through Finesse. That was the first time I went away to Bearsville, [New York]. G Rap recorded the whole album up there. I actually gave Nas the idea to go to Bearsville when he did his second album, It Was Written. But backtracking to G, he’s one of the greatest and he’s a legend.

“Working with him was like working with Pun, except with no Pro Tools. You have to double track and coach him through the vocals. He knows what he wants to say but sometimes you just have to guide him. The sessions were long, and they were grueling, but in the end, the vision that he wanted came out to be dope records.

“Of course, I was feeling like, ‘Damn, I came into the game listening to G Rap, now I’m in the studio working with him.’ And me missing being on Illmatic, it was dope now that Nas was on my record. The label wanted something for the radio, so I came up with a record, and I said, ‘Fuck it, it doesn’t sound too bad. Let me give it to them.’

“They came up with the idea, and we were working with it. It was the first time I worked with Nas. He was real professional. He wasn’t the cocky dude a lot of people thought he was at the time. He was humble and he let the producer do his job. You tell him, ‘Oh, I think you should say it like this instead of like that,’ and he’ll listen. That session went real smooth.”

AZ “Ho Happy Jackie” (1995)

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Buckwild: “Working with AZ is just like working with Nas. It’s not a one, two, three thing. I ain’t going to say they’re too lyrical for their own good, but it’s a work-in-progress. They’re perfectionists. Getting that song done, it took a little while.

“Back then, we were doing similar things we’re doing now. We made a few beats, and then submitted them. AZ picked the beat, and he goes, ‘I got this beat, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with it.’ Working with him, and coaching his vocals, it’s a good moment in time. I remember recording this at Electric Lady because we booked a lot of sessions there. AZ takes a lot of time and he wants his lyrics perfect.”

Kool Keith “Yo Black (Buckwild Remix)” (1995)

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Buckwild: “I forgot the dude who reached out to me, but he was at the label. I was actually charged because I was a big Ultramagnetic fan. So when someone reached out and said, ‘Hey, Keith wants to work with you,’ I was psyched. The only way you know about Kool Keith is if you’re a real, die-hard, hip-hop fan.

“So I went out to Cali, and it took us about two or three sessions. He picked the beat, we sat down and vibed, he kicked the chorus to me saying, ‘Yo, it’s going to be like this, what you think of this?’ He was kicking me the rhymes, and that shit was really dope. First night we laid the foundation out, and the next day we came through and breezed through the whole record. The third day I mixed it, and I was on the plane with the DAT, just bugging out, listening to it on the Walkman."

Lord Finesse "Hip 2 Da Game (Buckwild Remix)" (1995)

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Buckwild: “To me, Finesse is like the sensei. Even when I have my group, I would bring them to him and ask, ‘Yo, tell me what you think?’ Finesse will give you the raw, uncut, honest opinion. Even with ‘Hip 2 Da Game’ he told me, ‘Yo, I got a record and I want you to remix it.’ So knowing how picky Finesse is, it was almost scary to do it because I’m like, ‘Man, you don’t like anything.’ So I sent him some beats, and he heard the remix version he liked, and that was that.”

Mic Geronimo "Masta I.C." (1995)

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Buckwild: “Ez Elpee met Mic at CMJ and at the time Mic Geronimo had good success with ‘Shit’s Real’ and Blunt gave him an album deal. This is right after he got his budget. I remember giving him a beat tape and everybody was hating on the ‘Masta I.C.’ beat like, ‘Yo, you want to rock to that?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I’m telling you, man, this record’s going to be crazy.’

“It was crazy because ‘Masta I.C.’ took like ten sessions all because he came with the entire Wasteland. All of them were cool. That’s when I first met Royal Flush. He had the idea for the chorus. We had a skeleton for the record but it was just too many people around.

"I told Mic by the third session, ‘Yo, leave everybody home and come by yourself.’ So the next day he came, brought half the entourage. I was like, ‘Look ya’ll, let Mic do his thing. When he’s doing the chorus, everybody could be here.’ By the time we got to the chorus, we just had Flush and Mic because it didn’t work with everybody in there.

“After that, I had to come back and put all the scratches and layers on the song, which is crazy because Blackstreet sampled the song for ‘This Is How We Roll’ and didn’t clear it. It’s funny because Tone from Trackmasters was asking what it was, and I was like, ‘Why don’t you just let me produce the song with you?’ Rather than doing that, Blunt went after them and got a huge lawsuit and got a huge chunk of money off a record that sold like seven or eight million copies, while Mic Geronimo sold 100,000. [Laughs.]"

Mad Skillz "VA In The House" (1996)

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Buckwild: “During that time, there were a bunch of lyrical MCs, who everyone was hype about because they were so dope. But these labels didn’t know what to do with them. We did the records in Soundtrack and Battery. He moved up to New York during that period. Skillz is really picky. Sometimes he’d be in the studio, and try to tell the producer how to do his job. He’ll be like, ‘Do your job, nigga, do your job.’ And you’ll get into snaps with him, then he’ll say, ‘I’m only playing.’

“You have sessions like that where artists are as on par as the producers, it may not be big memories, but it’s good times. Ain’t nothing crazy intricate happened, except, I think it was during that time we met Erykah Badu. She was doing her thing. She was in one room, and Q-Tip and them were around. Matter of fact, I think Q-Tip was overseeing the Mad Skillz’ album. But yeah, Atlantic didn’t know what to do with the album. It should’ve sold at least 300,000.”

Capone-N-Noreaga f/ Tragedy Khadafi “Neva Die Alone” (1997)

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Buckwild: “Tragedy put a lot of that together. He was like, ‘Yo, I got my boys, I think they’re dope. But we don’t got no big budgets so you can’t kill us.’ [Laughs.] So I heard their records, and they were dope. So I did a bunch of joints with them.

“They were some funny dudes. Nore is a complete comedian. Him,

Tragedy, and Capone, they’re really cool dudes. In the

studio, you’ll have a lot of chicks, and a lot of things going on. Nore

has to be one of the realest dudes in the industry. I’m not saying on a

street level, but him and Pun are kind of like the same person. Nore

doesn’t let the industry dictate who he is. If you ask him for a verse,

he’ll either say, ‘I’ll be right there,’ or ‘Send it to me. I’ll do

it.’ Just a real dude.

“I remember my two records were done after ‘T.O.N.Y.’ When I heard that, I actually wanted to scrap my record. Back then production was more competitive than anything else. Because you’re like, ‘Yo, I got to have that record everybody’s going to like.’

People liked my records, but after I heard ‘T.O.N.Y,’ I was just like, ‘Yo, let me submit more beats. Let me get you guys something different.’ They just kept it on the album, [The War Report], and it did well. For an album with no promotion, and a low budget to sell 400,000 copies, my man Ez Elpee and I thought that was pretty dope."

The Notorious B.I.G. “I Got A Story to Tell” (1997)

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Buckwild: “That was originally meant for Foxy. Tone from Trackmasters picked the beat for Foxy, and Foxy heard it, then she said, ‘It’s the worst beat I heard in my life.’ But you can’t knock it because Foxy’s album is so dope and has so many hits on it. So fast forward to next year. Biggie does the song, Foxy comes in, she hears it, and goes, ‘Big, this got to be the best record on your album.’ And then I called Tone and said, ‘Yo, this the same beat I gave Foxy. I thought you said she didn’t like it.’ Tone was just like, ‘Man, don’t pay attention to her.’ [Laughs.]

“Big would call for beats. We would go to Brooklyn to get Big beats. Or he would say, ‘Yo, I’m going to send Cease here, drop off the beats to him.’ He did the foundation of the record before I came in, but he did the outro, and other layers when I was there. Big knows how he wants to sound, but he makes sure the producer’s also cool with it. He’ll be like, ‘Yo, let me know if you like the way it sounds. Because that’s your job.’

“I worked with Big on Tone’s album and I did couple other things with Big like commercials and several unreleased joints. Even working with him in the studio, I can say it’s easy because you’re communicating with an artist who isn’t acting like he knows everything. The people who were most humble and the easiest to work with, came out to be the best. And they were Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas. Some of these dudes who thought they knew the most, ended up failing the most.”

Jay-Z “Lucky Me” (1997)

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Buckwild: “That record I did with Stevie J. I knew Jay at the time. He just finished Vol. 1., Biggie had passed, and he heard the song I did for Biggie. So once again, Shawn Carter starts with the, ‘Hey, if you got beats for me, here's my number.’ So I gave him some beats, he heard the idea, and he was like, ‘Yo, I like the idea. I want to bring Stevie to work with you.’

“This is around the time when people started to think Jay-Z doesn’t write lyrics. So Jay comes in and he has an idea for the song. He mutters a few words. He kept listening, goes in, and lays down another four to eight bars. And that’s how he worked. He writes in his head. So what he does is first writes the music, which is the flow. So after you write the music, you put the words to match the flow.

“So when I gave him the beat tape, I guess he had the idea for the whole song. He brought Stevie to come in to lay some keys, and make the foundation for him to rhyme to. After that, he needed a chorus, and Karen Anderson came in and hummed some stuff. We liked what she did, she laid it down, and that was that. Stevie put the sprinkles, and that was the record.”

Fat Joe “Walk On By” (1998)

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Buckwild: “We had a sample issue with that. We used a record and Lionel Richie said, ‘No.’ So we just ended up not using the sample and used a whole new beat. So I got with Dinky Bingham—who is Yummy Bingham’s pops—and he just replayed everything I needed him to play.

“That album, [Don Cartagena], I think it was mirrored after the Puffy thing, while Pun was a big influence lyrically. Even doing that record, it was more radio-friendly. That’s the beat that he picked. But when I heard the Primo record and ‘John Blaze,’ I was like, ‘Damn, why couldn’t I cut something like this?’ But you’re grateful for what you do and people liked the record, so I wasn’t mad at it.”

Brand Nubian “Brand Nubian” (1998)

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Buckwild: “We did that in a studio out in Rochelle. And like I said, it’s family. So when they said we’re going to do an album, it’s going to be us, Chris "CL" Liggio, DJ Premier, and everything worked out that way. I remember just going back and forth every day.

“It’s hard working with three people to pick out beats. It’d be a beat Puba would like, but Jamar wouldn’t like it, so it was quite an experience. Whenever you’re dealing with more than one personality it can be a hassle, but those times it wasn’t. Those were dope sessions. It was cool because it was close to home, and puts you in the vibe.

“Even being in the studio with Puba. Anyone who worked with him knows you’ll be on stand-by for hours or days. [Laughs.] I remember it took a lot because he used to record whenever he feels like it. Puba’s one of the coolest cats I met in the industry. But one thing he showed me was there’s industry time, then there’s Puba’s time.”

Terror Squad f/ Buju Banton “Rudeboy Salute” (1999)

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Buckwild: “During that record, they had the so-called Jay-Z and Terror Squad beef. Pun goes in on Jay-Z and he said some really crazy shit. He says, 'Disrespect Fat Joe, the Don Carta, and I’ma have to jig a nigga like Shawn Carter.' And after that he says some other stuff, but then Fat Joe comes in and says, 'Yo, you got to change this part because right now we squashed the beef. Everything’s cool.' I never thought these things would be worth something later. So Pun goes in, and re-writes the verse, but keeps the first part. He goes, 'I’m not changing that. I’m going to cut it from here.'”

Beanie Sigel “What A Thug About” (2000)

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Buckwild: “I was under the Roc management before Just and Beanie. It was between The Blueprint and Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter. It was during the time of The Truth and Bleek’s first album, Coming of Age. I remember during Beanie’s first album we cut like 12 records. A couple of them had the same samples that were on The Blueprint. I had the same Tom Brock sample that was used in ‘Girls, Girls, Girls.'

“I just remember a lot of dudes calling me and saying, ‘Yo, Jay-Z has a whole lot of records that sound like the beat tape you had.’ Long story short, I felt things weren’t working too well. I probably jumped ship too soon. But that was the end result. Out of all those records they picked ‘What A Thug About’ for The Truth. That was the first record Jay-Z was running around playing for everybody. That’s the one they felt really comfortable with. If I had those reels, I could probably put out a Beanie Sigel album that people will think is pretty dope.

“Beans in the studio consists a lot of blunt smoking and a lot of dope rhymes. Working with him is always smooth because he’s not one of those cats that are overly cocky. So it’s like boxing. The producer’s the coach. So what I say, he follows the rules and the guidelines. I think that’s how we always made good records. I think we worked well together in the studio.

“Even now, I approach him and say, ‘We should cut some records and put that spark back in the game.’ Not many people have that chemistry. He’s real and aggressive. So I think he needs to get back to doing him. When he did The Solution, I told him, ‘Yo, I’m not really feeling the R. Kelly thing. I think you need to get back and make a part two of The B.Coming.’ And they were like, ‘Nah, this is what Jay says to do…’”

Black Rob “Whoa” (2000)

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Buckwild: “I always had a relationship with Rob and his manager at the time, Shaq. This is New York. Everybody’s cool with everybody. So I think I got a call from Harve Pierre, who was the A&R, saying, ‘Yo, we’re trying to finish Rob’s album. Come down and play some beats.’ I think it was Shaq and Harve who were the last people that said, ‘Yo, you got to let Rob hear this beat.’ Afterwards, I heard some crazy stories of the creation process of the song.

“Somebody told me 50 Cent wrote the song, which I laughed at. And then I heard Puerto Rock came up with the hook. Nonetheless, doing the song, the track came out crazy. I didn’t think the song was going to be as big as it was. Only two people who heard the record said it was going to be a big record. One was Lord Finesse, and the other was Lenny S from Roc-A-Fella.

“Lenny S gave the beat to Jay-Z, then Memphis Bleek, then Amil, and then other people. They all passed on it. So Rob does the record and a week later I walk into Def Jam, I hear Lenny playing the record going, ‘I told ya’ll this record is going to be crazy! All ya’ll niggas slept on this record.’ That record kind of brought Bad Boy back. I think that was the first video, which Puff was actually in for a long time.”

D.I.T.C. “Champagne Thoughts” (2000)

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Buckwild: “I first got down with D.I.T.C. through Lord Finesse. I was doing mixtapes and Finesse would come to my crib and do his tapes. I thought that was funny because I was a DJ who played his records. And for him to do mixtapes at my crib was kind of bugged out. And after that DJ Mike Smooth couldn’t go on tour with him, so I would do shows with Finesse here and there.

“From then on I met O.C., Organized Konfusion, and Tone from Trackmasters. I knew Biz Markie already, and met Benzino and them from The Source. This was in 1992. I always tell people Finesse opened the door for everything for me. If I didn’t met Finesse I wonder, ‘Where would I be right now?’ Finesse introduced me to Show, to Diamond D, and after that everything became a natural progression.

“So by the time that record came out, the crew was facing a lot of controversy with Tommy Boy for that. I can’t front even for the sessions. I was like, ‘Aight, whatever ya’ll need me for, I’m there.’ And Show was overseeing the project, but I don’t think him and Tommy Boy were seeing things eye to eye. Basically, I think Tommy Boy just fucked everything up. It matters, but we were just like, ‘Man, fuck it. What’s lost is lost.’

“We actually did that record in D&D. I love working with O.C. because I think we have a special chemistry. Even when we had records that didn’t make the album, I thought O.C. was a special MC, who should have blown. During that time when we did ‘Time’s Up,’ Puffy even approached him for management. [Laughs.]”

Big Pun “The Dream Shatterer (Original Version)” (2001)

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Buckwild: “He picked that beat on Showbiz’s birthday. Show’s birthday is in the summertime. I think it’s July 6. And usually he always has a get-together where we would just sit in the back of the projects, and everybody’s just playing music in the cars, and having fun. I remember ‘Off the Books’ was rocking on the radio.

"I met Pun before a couple of times. I remember him coming up to me like, ‘Yo, what’s up? How come you don’t give me any beats for my album?’ He was done with Capital Punishment at the time and I was like, ‘Yo, let me play you some stuff.’

“We got inside our van and I played him some beats. I think ‘Dream Shatterer’ was the first or the second beat. He kept playing it. And he took the tape. The next day he called me saying, ‘Yo, I just wrote the greatest rhyme I ever wrote.’ [Laughs.] He was like, ‘Yo, I want this beat for my album, but I don’t have no budget.’ I was like, ‘We’re all family. Just take it.’ So now he made a platform to get more songs.

“I remember we went to Mystic Studio in Staten Island. He went inside the booth and sat on a stool, and just breathed fire through the whole song. I’ve never seen him finish a song without doing punches. Me, Cuban Link, and Triple Seis were there. And it was incredible.

"Both Cuban and I were surprised and amazed because aside from the verse he had on ‘Twinz (Deep Cover '98),’ he unearthed the beat on ‘Dream Shatterer.’ After he played that track for a bunch of dudes, cats wanted to give him beats for free because they were so anxious to get on his album. So after that we really started getting tight.

“The original track couldn’t make Capital Punishment, though. Some sample clearance issue got in the way. So it was eventually released posthumously on Endangered Species. Overall, Pun was just a comedian, man.

"You couldn’t fall asleep around him, he would throw water on you. [Laughs.] I remember hearing the story that he bought a whole bunch of equipment from Sam Ash and told Just Blaze to hook it up. And he traded a bunch of equipments to Just for a beat. [Laughs.] We thought that was hilarious. Pun was a real giving person. He was kind of wild, but he was always a good-hearted dude.”

Faith Evans “I Love You” (2001)

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Buckwild: “Actually, there were two records that were done at the same time. It was ‘I Love You’ and ‘So Complete.’ Cheri Dennis sang ‘So Complete’ on Puffy’s The Saga Continues album. I remember I was under Bad Boy at the time. [Laughs.]

"I was in Daddy’s House and I told Puff I got these two records. I played him and Bobby Springsteen the beats. I felt they could be big records, but he didn’t give me the response I was looking for.

“But Bobby was like, ‘Yo, I like those. Let me see if I could get some writers.’ He gave one to Mechalie, and the other to…her name was Cheryl? I know she’s from DC. So she wrote ‘So Complete’ and Mechelie Jamison wrote the ‘I Love You’ record.

"I remember this is around the time they just started fucking with Pro Tools. So they cut the ‘I Love You’ record, and everybody was in there during the rough. Mechalie and Puffy were there, J.Lo was also there because it was actually her record.

“J.Lo didn’t want the record at the last minute and Faith said, ‘I’ll take that.’ I thought it was going to be on a J.Lo album, but when Faith took it, I was surprised. She actually takes records from other writers. But thanks to that record, it opened up for me to work with Faith on upcoming projects like ‘Better Day (Ghetto Girl)’ from 702’s Star album.”

Fat Joe “Lifestyle” (2001)

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Buckwild: “The record was chopped and we replayed it. That was the first time I started having people coming in and really use instruments. I remember being in the studio with Joe, Cool & Dre, and they were like, ‘Yo, you got 76 tracks for this single joint. What the fuck is going on?’ [Laughs.] I was like, ‘Well, you want a certain sound, and this is what it is.’

“It has three different changes, so each change has to have a different track. Duro mixed the record. I always thought Duro’s the greatest engineer. Even a lot of records I have, he mixed the shit out of them and they sounded good. My man DJ LV—who was Pun’s DJ and later became Fat Joe’s DJ—said they did one of Flex’s car shows, and told me, ‘Yo, we did the record, and everybody knew the words.’

“Come to find out, I didn’t even know until Rob Tewlow from Atlantic told me that while they had the R. Kelly record, ['We Thuggin''], going on the radio, the radio actually wanted ‘Lifestyle.’ And Atlantic actually turned it down because they really wanted that R. Kelly record to pop off.

“For that album, Joe had a lot to prove because Pun wasn’t there. I remember people were saying, ‘Yo, Joe doesn’t write his lyrics.’ I saw Joe in the studio writing little by little for that record. He worked really hard for Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.), and he deserves that platinum plaque.”

AZ “I’m Back” (2002)

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Buckwild: “I originally submitted the song to Lil Kim, but her A&R was telling us she turned the beat down. In fact, she didn’t even get to hear it. It was one of those okie dokes the A&R pulled. A week later, I’m in the studio with AZ in Jersey. And I’m telling him, ‘Yo, this is the joint right here.’ And he goes, ‘That’s cool, man. But I got a lot of records on my album.’

“Then Ty Fyffe hears the beat and goes, ‘Yo, AZ, you’re a fool if you don’t take this.’ So now it was Ty Fyffe and me versus AZ. We’re going back and forth, and he just goes, ‘Yeah, the beat is cool, but it’s just not talking to me.’ And then Deo, who’s AZ’s manager, walks into the room, and now it’s three versus one. Then he goes, ‘Yo, if you guys really think this, I’ll run with it.’

“He recorded the song when I wasn’t there. I liked the song, but the vision that I had of the song, with him playing off the sample, that’s what I wanted Kim to do. It’s ironic that when it got to Motown that’s the record they picked for the single. [Laughs.]

"Over the years we became friends. So after that record, I had one up. I’m not even going to say, ‘I told you so.’ But it proves that I know what I’m talking about.”

Cormega “A Thin Line” (2002)

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Buckwild: “I’m not going to front, I gave that one out for free. I remember that was right after he got released from Def Jam. I always thought Mega was dope. When Foxy was doing her first album, we got to do a record that wasn’t released because the contents were allegedly shots at Nas.

"So I just remember one day waking up at nine a.m., Chris Lighty and Tone from Trackmasters were on the phone going, ‘Yo, if you got any tapes of this record, destroy it. We don’t need this getting out.’ From then, I bonded with Mega.

“When it came time, Mega was like, ‘Yo, I’m trying to do an indie album.’ I told him to come through my crib, and I threw him some beats. That’s how ‘A Thin Line’ came about. To me, he’s one of the dudes who birthed the independent market in New York.

"Freddie Foxx and Cormega. Nobody was selling 100,000 records independently before 50 Cent. Mega’s a true person. Anybody who rocked with Mega, you got to love him to death. Him and Nas were friends before anybody in the industry came along. So aside from Nas, I never heard anybody saying anything negative about Mega.”

Fat Joe “Take A Look At My Life” (2002)

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Buckwild: “We kept telling him to do a video for ‘Lifestyle,’ but it never happened. ‘Take A Look At My Life’ he actually went and did a video in the Bronx. I remember that was one of the most frustrating albums for me because I was playing so many beats for Joe.

"I played about a good 150 beats. He kept saying, ‘That’s not it.’ I remember it was Joe, Armageddon, Cool & Dre, Macho, and they were a lot of people in the studio. When I finally got to ‘Take A Look At My Life,’ he said, ‘That’s the one.’ I was like, ‘Finally.’

“When it was time for the recording, he had the hook and everything. After the hook was laid, that was when I saw how the record took form. Then after the verses, he added the intro, and after I put in my live shit, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m not mad it took a hundred beats to get to this.’

“There were some crazy shits going on during that session. During a lot of Terror Squad sessions, having an entourage led to a whole other pile of things. I remember one of the dudes in Joe’s crew called one girl, and she had to suck off like 20 to 25 people. [Laughs.]

"We’re in Sony [Studios], and you see a line of dudes going into the bathroom getting sucked off, while Beyoncé and Lenny S walk by not knowing what’s going on. So even when you could look at that, I tell a lot of the younger dudes, whether they’re good or bad, we had memories.”

Terror Squad “Pass Away” (2004)

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Buckwild: “That was Armageddon’s record. Fat Joe said that record was about him. I don’t know if it is, but…[Laughs]. Joe says that’s his favorite record off that album. It’s a dope record. Once again, it’s funny because that record, ‘Take a Look At Me Now,’ and Jadakiss’ ‘Pain & Torture’ were all on the same CD. That’s why I say when [Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie] tells me my beats are ahead of their time I believe that. Because all those beats were picked out at different times throughout the course of four to eight years.”

Nas “These Are Our Heroes” (2004)

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Buckwild: “L.E.S. and Salaam Remi brought me in for that album. I always wanted to work with Nas, and he’s real picky. If Nas don’t fuck with you, he’s not going to fuck with you. People say Nas is hypocritical, but I don’t think so. If he says, 'I won’t work with you again,' he won’t work with you. I’ve heard him do this.

"If a producer puts three or four hot beats in Pro Tools, Nas goes in and lays the track, then comes out and finds it’s a guy he doesn’t want to work with, he’ll just trash that song. He’s a person of integrity.

“Even with the song, having that type of content, you already know it’s going to be something that’s talked about. After the track got out, Hip-Hop from Roc-A-Fella hit me like, ‘Yo, that’s one of my favorite songs off the album.’ Because Nas is one of those guys who’s always going to strike a nerve.

"He was basically saying stuff other people were scared to say. And he’s real humble. He keeps to himself. You’re not going to see a million people in a Nas session. It’s just him and his blunt, plus a handful of people. [Laughs.] Maybe Nas might not even be there.”

The Game f/ Busta Rhymes “Like Father Like Son” (2005)

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Buckwild: “The relationship first sparked with me doing like nine songs for Smitty. He played the songs I did for him for Angelo Sanders, who was Game’s A&R. And they liked the records, so they wanted to hear some beats. I sent them some beats and Game wrote the idea of the record on the road.

"While he was out here, he said, ‘Yo, we’re going to try and cut your record.’ I said, ‘Dude, you can call me at four o’clock in the afternoon, I’m coming down there.’ But they go, ‘We’re here recording with Just, if you can come down around eight it’ll be cool.’

“But the session got pushed back from eight o’clock, to ten o’clock, to 12 o’clock, to one o’clock. So I got there at like two, we cut the record, but then we got stuck on the chorus. Then they took it back to L.A., so Dre can hear it. Next thing I know, they send me a rough with Busta on the chorus. So I sent back the Pro Tools, additional instruments I added, and Dre decided to mix the record himself.

“At one of my old studios, I actually kept a picture of the XXL cover with Dre, Eminem, and 50 Cent on the wall, just as inspiration. Because I remember reading Dre saying, ‘We do make wack records, but you just don’t hear them. Because we’re not going to let them out.’ And I always believed in that.

"When I heard Dre wanted to mix my record, I figured he liked them. Because I remember Mel-Man telling me, ‘Yo, Dre was bumping your Fat Joe records. And he just bumped the ‘So Hard’ record by WC like six times.’ So I just felt really honored.”

50 Cent “I Don’t Need ‘Em” (2005)

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Buckwild: “When 50 was doing Get Rich or Die Tryin' he would always be like, ‘Yo, I need you on my album.’ The first time I met him was through Rich Nice from Trackmasters. Then I really met him through Sha Money XL. They’re both good people. I missed the first album.

"I didn’t really take it so seriously. I saw him at the 8 Mile show, and he came over saying, ‘Yo, I’m doing my album, I’ll save you a spot.’ I was like, ‘Yo, that’s cool.’ [Laughs.] I knew the dude was nice, I knew he would sell, but I didn’t know he would sell 11 million on the first album. I figured he’d sell four or five million. But sometimes you keep your friendship bigger than business.

“So fast forward to The Massacre, I was going to The Hit Factory to see Cam'ron at two in the morning with one beat CD because DukeDaGod called me. And guess who comes out the front door? [50 Cent] goes, ‘Yo, I’m about to start my new album, I need some music.’ I had one CD, I thought about it, and just gave it to him. And it worked out because ‘I Don’t Need ‘Em’ was the first record on the CD. 50 doesn’t record with that many producers. He’s the only person I haven’t been inside the studio with as far as recording.

“It was the first song he recorded for The Massacre, and it was one of the only ones that stayed on until the end. I remember the song being a problem because No I.D. used the same sample [‘Nobody Knows’ by Operation Breadbasket Orchestra and Choir] for Ghostface’s ‘Metal Lungies,’ and I was like, ‘Man, there goes my placement.’

"I was telling Sha Money and 50, ‘Yo, Ghostface used the record, let’s do another song.’ But they were like, ‘Yo, 50 really likes the record and he wants to have it come out the way it is. The record is about to come out, and we’re going through sample clearances.'

“We find out Jesse Jackson owns the sample out of all people. It’s so crazy. My last statement was negative $500,000. [Laughs.] So you can imagine how much Jesse made off this song. I made publishing, but not on sales. So when you see Jesse, and Jesse talks bad about rap music, ask him about that check he got from Interscope and 50 Cent.

"A lot of these guys who are politicians were into music before. And Operation Breadbasket was a gospel group. Remember, Reverend Jesse Jackson. So if you ever Google him, and check his discography, you’ll see he owns a few records.”

AZ “Live Wire” (2005)

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Buckwild: “‘Live Wire’ from A.W.O.L. was another beat that he wasn’t too sure about. I remember the session when we did that. We came into Chung King, and Kanye was in one of the studios. I think he was mixing College Dropout or it was already out. So, yeah, we go in, we ran through the records, and AZ comes and has his lyrics down. Actually, Nas was supposed to be on that record, but it just slipped through the cracks.”

Jadakiss “Pain & Torture” (2009)

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Buckwild: “That was on a CD meant for Fat Joe. I remember Armageddon calling me saying, ‘Yo, I went back and listened to the beat CD you gave Joe, which had ‘Lifestyle,’ and heard that Jadakiss beat.’ So I don’t even know how Jada got the beat. He said he just found the beat on a CD. I was like, ‘Damn, I don’t even remember shopping that beat.’ But when he told me he got it, I came into the studio, and we cut the record.

“Some artists are producers in their own right, kind of like how Biggie was. Jadakiss is one of those dudes. He knows how he wants it to sound, and the record came out dope. And a lot of people like the first three records on [The Last Kiss], that were produced by me, Neo da Matrix, and Swizz. So hopefully on this upcoming album I could work on more records with Jada.”

Method Man & Redman “Mrs. International” (2009)

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Buckwild: “I was hyped when they said they were going to do Blackout! 2. When I heard they were doing the Blackout! 2, Redman was like, ‘Yo, we need beats.’ So I felt like, ‘Man, I got to give them my best shit.’ ‘Mrs. International’ was one beat that I put on there as whatever. But that’s the beat they picked. They came in, and laid the vocals, but I think Red went back and touched a few things in the studio. They recorded the song, and did everything else in their spot, and then brought it to Mirror Image [Studios].

“When I first met Redman, it was around the time he was mastering Dare Iz a Darkside. He had like 20 blunts in a circle. I was doing the Artifacts' record at the time, and I met the dude for the first time, so I kept my composure. But Red was just like, ‘Yo, you smoke?’ And I’m looking at him like, ‘Damn, this nigga has 20 blunts here in a circle.’ I don’t smoke, but I know if I did, I couldn’t smoke 20 joints.

“Musically, Red’s a perfectionist. He comes in after he’s done with his parts, and listens to what I have, and we’re making comparisons on what we think works. We had at least four or five sessions mixing the record. Because Red’s a producer and a DJ before he’s a rapper.”

Saigon “Oh Yeah (Our Babies)” (2011)

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Buckwild: “Saigon recorded that in Scram Jones’ crib, this is way back. Probably during the time of Warning Shots. [Laughs.] Because I know when I first met Saigon, I met him through Gotti from The Source, who I think was the music editor at the time. So Saigon would come to my studio, he would pick beats, and go off to record it somewhere else.

"The next thing you know, he got his deal, and they wanted like two or three Saigon records for his album. I remember Atlantic was playing with the money a little bit, but they cut me a check for two cuts.

“When we had to finish the record, I had to come down to work with Just. He played everything instrumentally. He took the sample out because he wanted everything to flow straight through. Just mastered all the notes, and figured out how he wanted the tracks to flow into one another.

“Just was the executive producer and he had to change some things. He was put in the end of ninth inning, trying to get that album out. So I can understand that. I still think it’s a dope record. It’s not too different from the original. Overall, I think it’s a timeless record for it to be made some time ago, and dudes still like it. To be on an album some people consider a classic, I appreciate that.”

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