Beverly Hills is a zip code, a TV show, but it’s also a real place, with real rich people with real mistresses and real kids going to highschool driving expensive cars, just like in the show.
90210, you either be born there or you move there, after a long quest dedicated to yourself. This kinda place is called a destination: you dream about it, get invited, finally settle here, whatever you want. But you’re not supposed to leave. I’ve been checking: in Denver, Colorado, nobody has a new neighbour coming outta Beverly Hills.
By the end of the 90’s, this guy promptly parked daddy’s car on the grass and jumped the fence of rich man’s heaven.
“Large Pro was lookin at me…
with a disappointed look on his face”
Producer A-A-A-Alchemist shares some secrets
THE REALEST Mobb Deep feat. Kool G Rap
When I left LA for NY, Muggs (Cypress Hill) told me to hook up with Infamous Mobb : they’re young, they wanna work. I met them, they told me we gonna introduce you to Mobb Deep, you’re dope. At that time, I’m alone in New York, hanging with no one, just doing beats 24/7. They realized: he has done nothing but working since he got here, he’s grinding real hard. So they introduced me to Havoc. Said like that, it sounds like it was quick, but it really took some time -years really- before I met Hav. They came to realize I’m loyal, thorough, and I’m a team player. I’m not the boss type of guy, I really can play for others (…) When Mobb Deep started working on Murda Muzik, I was visiting them from time to time, always accompanying Twinz or Gotti… I was meeting Prodigy or Havoc -they were never together in the studio- and playing them some of my beats on a DAT. The first time, Prodigy got through all of them, and he said I like this one. The next day, same thing, with Havoc: this one. It was the same beat! So I told him Prodigy picked the same and… Nothing happened. I got back home and that was it. 3 or 4 weeks later, I got a phone call form Prodigy: you still have that beat from the other day? Come by the studio.
I came in and who do I see? Kool G Rap ! Shit! I didn’t even know he was gonna be on the track! I had brought my keyboard and my records, so I just redid the beat. No manager, no phone call, no contract, no nothing: I didn’t give a fuck. It was just a crazy opportunity and I took it.
KEEP IT THORO Prodigy
When I moved from LA to NY, I left a few records in my parents garage. One day I came back spending the week-end with my family, and since I always had my sampler with me (the infamous ASR 10), I hooked with my turntables and tried to do something with what I had. The only drums sounds available were on this old MC Lyte record, so I chopped it to make my beat (on top that loop from Bill Conti’s Theme).
Sometimes I take a look at what Prodigy is writing in the studio. I read it, shit leaves me cold. I don’t know how he’s gonna rap his bars. Only when he’s recording I see how and where he places his words. Prodigy once tried to write some stuff for me, but it didn’t work: only the way he delivers things makes his raps so special. His choice of words don’t impress me, but his timing when he uses them always will.
WE GONNA MAKE IT Jadakiss
I did this beat in New York, when I was living in this small room. At that time I wasn’t doing well at all, I was strugglin. My man Agallah often came by – he’s a crazy-talented produced, I studied him a lot… He stayed at my crib a few days and we were listening to each other’s beats. We were working together and I really absorbed his way of programming drums. To be honest, I really did that beat his way… DJ Premier came to visit me the day I was doing this beat. I was really nervous to get him ear it, because it has a clap sound, and I know doesn’t like these kinds of drums too much. He was my idol and I always get nervous when he listens to my stuff. He started nodding his head big time -you know how he does- saying Yeah Yeah ! I could rap over that beat! Shit made me laugh, he always says that when he likes a beat (laugh).
NO IDEA’S ORIGINAL Nas
Nas impressed me when he did Book of Rhymes and this one. Him and his team were working on Stillmatic, back around 1999. I had a lot of well-constructed beats, but I was seeing something simple with an old school feel for Nas. I talked about a Barry White sampled based track, so he could rhyme like in the old days, when people used to party and freestyle in the park. He agreed and asked me to record the beat with Pro Tools. Large Professor was with us in the studio. I was feeling ashamed. He was lookin at me puttin that loop in the computer, with a disappointed look on his face. It felt awkward, because a guy like him isn’t used to see us work that way. He’s from another era, where there were no computers involved… But when the track was finally done, he understood what I was trying to do.
What’s crazy is when I was preparing my loop, I was explaining Nas the concept I was seeing for the track. Then I had to leave and couldn’t come back before the next day. Nas wasn’t there no more. The engineer made me listen to the track: it was already done, and just like I imagined it. That guy’s talent blew my mind that day.
GOT IT TWISTED Mobb Deep
Me and Prodigy, we often start from nothing, just talking, sharing ideas… Got it Twisted actually has a funny story: we call Prodigy « Science » because he’s very knowledgeable, always into books…. so one day I ask him if he remembers that song that goes « Science! », he says no, so I go online and download it. I try to sample it, but it doesn’t work, because the rhythm is weird. So I restart from scratch, replay the tune on my keyboard, just by ear, real quick… and I see Hav and P starting to write to my beat and it’s not even finished! If you pay attention, the beat sounds a little undone, its structure is real simple: just a kick and a cymbal. But it’s cool, it was the moment’s vibe. I didn’t have time to finish, but it was better left that way. Kinda like Quiet Storm: super simple, but sometimes, it’s just the best way.
(to be continued)