SKI BEATZ Producer/MC of Original Flavor
“Beyond Flavor” released February 1994
“Beyond Flavor,” it was cool. That album was recorded a little at Chung King and a little at Quad. The new guy T-Strong that I’d put on in the group was a solo artist that I was producing. When me and Suave, the first member, went our separate ways I asked Tone if he wanted to be in the group and he wanted to do it. He introduced me to Chubby Chub, our DJ at the time. Tone was a crazy influence to me as far as lyrics and writing.
I was in a group before Original Flavor based out of NC called The Bizzie Boys. We used to open shows for acts from NY and at the time Clark Kent was DJing for Dana Dane and we’d open with them. He told me when you’re in NY look me up and we’ll hang out. So when I got to NY and looked him up the timing couldn’t be better because he was A&Ring at Atlantic Records. I told him I got a new group Original Flavor and I wanted to drop a CD off at his office. I dropped it off, he heard it and a few weeks later he called me back when I was in NC visiting my mom. My mom said “There is some dude on the phone named Clark Kent that wants to talk to you” and she starts laughing cuz she thought that was funny. He said I need to come back to NY because Atlantic wants to sign me. They flew us back and as soon as we landed we went to Atlantic and signed the paperwork. Lawyers and everybody was there. That’s how I connected with Dame Dash because he was there and wanted to manage us. We were the first group he ever managed.
“Can I get Open” Featuring Jay Z
Clark met Jay through Fresh Gordon. Look up Fresh Gordon. He used to be a rapper back in the ’80s and he started producing Jay Z. But at the time he was hustling cellphones with the cracked numbers and sh*t. But he got caught up and got locked down and Clark started messing with Jay Z then. Clark introduced Jay to Dame at the “Here We Go” video shoot. Jay came with Jaz-O and Sauce Money. Clark was like “This is my man Jay and he’s dope and he’s looking for management.” Clark was like “J, spit something for him…” and when J rhymed I knew I wasn’t gonna rap anymore. I’m a rapper but I always wanted to rap like THAT. So I said let’s get ready to start producing (laughs). But before that we had another obligation to Atlantic to fulfill so I told him I had this song and I wanted you him get on it. He was down cuz he was part of the crew. He was with us out on tour. Then when we got off the road we started recording all these songs that eventually turned into “Reasonable Doubt.”
Back then we didn’t have Daddy’s House so every studio we went to was The Hit Factory, Sony or Calliope. Hip-Hop was still fairly new so you’d walk in and see Led Zeppelin plaques or Blondie and these type of things going on. It was usually some white engineer who wasn’t familiar with hip-hop. You were lucky to find the few black and white engineers like Tony Maserati and Prince Charles Alexander. Those guys were in tune. So we snatched them up and used them for damn near everything we did. There was a lot of smoke, a lot of drinking and a lot of women but there was a respect there for everybody’s position. Biggie would write his rhymes and he left. He didn’t worry about how a kick sounded or who was on the chorus. He allowed us to go in and do what we do, work our magic after he left. He came in ready to lay down his stuff. Then me, or Chucky (Thompson) or Nashiem Myrick would do overdubs or Poke and Tone would play bass lines over or replay samples. Do all this stuff when the artist wasn’t there. We were renting keyboards, vocoders, and drum machines. It wasn’t our studio so you had to make sure you were respectful. You couldn’t stand on chairs and sleep over like we used to do at Daddy’s House. Every minute of that session counted. You spend eight hours and end up spending $1500 or something crazy and if you got nothing done, that was a problem. It was really goal oriented. There was no unlimited studio time. You had to pay for DATS, CDs cassettes and half inch reel. A half inch reel back then was $150, $200 a pop! Studios would charge you $10 or $20 a pop for a DAT when you could walk to the store and get it for $3. And you’d use 10 or 15 DATS by the time you walked out of that studio. $5 per cassette. So we’d stop at the pharmacy and pick up our own cassettes and dats. Cuz when you saw the bill at the end of the day for $900…
COMPETITION BETWEEN JAY Z and BIGGIE…
D-DOT: They definitely competed. I can tell you actual factuals that they both wanted to crush each other on some Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins or Magic Johnson vs Isaiah. Jay was a little older than Big, but Big had the benefit of a Puff Daddy in his corner. Puffy’s vision for his records were much more grandios at the time for the average rapper. We were trying to go for radio and 3,000 spins back then, which was consider taboo. We knew we could knock out the street sh*t but we wanted to take it to the next level. So I think Jay had something to prove, he was nice and Big was his biggest fan. He couldn’t let his young’n down so he delivered every time he came.
SKI: I just remember being in D&D and Biggie Smalls was in Studio A and Jay was in studio B. J and Big were friends, both from Brooklyn, they hang out and sh*t. It’s funny cuz they had this little competitive thing going on. It was definitely friendly competition. But anytime Biggie would make something crazy he would call Jay into the studio to check it out. And you know Jay would go to Preemo’s room and Jay would give Biggie that look like ‘That’s crazy.’ I remember doing “Streets Is Watching” and Jay said ‘Go play that beat for Big.’ and I’d go to the studio and say ‘Check this out.’ Big was like ‘That’s for J?’ and look at me like ‘Man, come on.’ Going back and forth with them was crazy.
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BLACK MUSIC MONTH: A Salute To Hip-Hop In 1994, Part 1 [EXCLUSIVE] was originally published on theurbandaily.com