Studio Campfire Stories: The "SunStorm" Edition – "Say How You Feel" and "For Leslie"


3. Say How You Feel (feat. Phonte & Carlitta Durand)
In April of 2009, Phonte and Carlitta were both in town for a video shoot with my brovah and good friend, DJ Roddy Rod. If I remember correctly, the shoot was on a Saturday and I was mad that I couldn’t make it to the group video shoot at night because I had a two shows with The ELs scheduled on the same day. But when Sunday came around, the two of them made sure to stop by the house to hang out for a little while. The day was interesting because being that I lived in a 17-story building, the apartments didn’t have thermostats that controlled ‘heat’ and ‘air conditioning’. So therefore, the entire building would have to be ‘switched over’ to heat when the weather typically got cold (around Oct/Nov) and would switch to a/c when the weather typically warmed up, which was normally around April. Well… the air conditioning had not yet switched over to a/c and the day that Phonte and Carlitta decided to come over, the temperature was in the upper-90’s… and I lived on the 15th floor. So the heat in the apartment that day was damn near unbearable, the humidity was up, and it was just plain uncomfortable. Realizing this, I stopped up at Target in order to get a fan big enough to accommodate kats… The problem was, OTHER folks in the area had the same idea that I did, which equated to a “late arrival” (about 1pm). When I got to Target, the big floor fans were GONE and the only fans they had left were a couple of small joints that were gonna do NO good in the heat we were gonna be smothered in. But, I bought one of them anyway and took it back home. By the time I got there, Phonte and Carlitta were already in the spot and sitting in the living room. We plugged in the fan, sat very still and checked out a couple of movies… aaaaand as expected, that little ass fan was moving NO air around in the apartment.


I decided to take them back into the studio to listen to a newer joint that I was in the middle of working on that was still sitting in the sequencer. I pulled the joint up and played the four-bar loop that I demoed and Phonte sat down, said, “Let’s do it then” and proceeded to start humming basic harmony lines to himself…. Well, that was easy. After that, I tracked everything out in Pro Tools and recorded the bass and re-recorded the basic keyboard parts right then and there while they waited just to have some type of reference. Once the music was recorded, the three of us gathered around the instrument mic that I have in the studio and recorded about three and a half minutes worth of handclaps. This is not a big deal in room temperature conditions, but in 90-degrees?! We finished recording handclaps lookin like we were training for a damn 50K race. So after a water break, the two of them dug in and began to write. The writing process wasn’t too long and tiresome, it was the actual recording process that proved to be the energy drainer. I can still see Carlitta sitting down on the floor of the studio with the fan sitting directly in front of her hot as hell… But she ended up baring down and knocking all of her parts out after Phonte laid his vocals down. A little later on in the night, we ordered pizza from Papa John’s in a sad attempt to rejuvenate, but in the long run, I think it just managed to increase levels of ‘itis. My mixing efforts at that point were definitely sidetracked by thoughts of melted cheeses, tomato sauce, toppings……… and crust……………*salivates* …and damn cheese sticks….. Apparently I’m getting sidetracked right NOW.

Anyway, I completed the music for the song a couple days after the original recordings took place… Keep in mind, I STILL didn’t have A/C that day either thus making “Say How You Feel” the hottest (temperature-wise) damn song I think I have ever recorded. AND, it was the only song on the album where ALL of the artists were recording together in the same place at the same time…


4. For Leslie
I came up with this chord progression and pattern at the worst possible time… while sitting in a slow-moving boring ass two-hour meeting at the school I work at. Therefore, in order to keep the music in my head, I was forced to hum the melody and tap my foot or nod my head (to remember the drum pattern) for the duration of this drawn out meeting. At the close of the meeting, I literally ran down to my music room so that I could record the idea onto the ‘voice memo’ application on my iPhone (I actually still have the original recorded piano on my phone). I was then able to take it home and put together an arrangement that worked for it.

One day while on the phone with Phonte, we were discussing the type of instrument that would sound dope over this particular track. I think we covered damn near the entire spectrum of instruments from the piano, to the guitar… to various woodwind pieces. From there, he started telling me about a flutist he knew of who was based out of New York named Claudia Hayden. Now, she told him to hit her up if he ever needed her to get down on some music… Welp Claudia! Guess what?! This was the perfect time. I looked up a couple of her performances on YouTube and was thoroughly impressed with the clips I saw of she and her band. Her playing was concise and I liked how she made the flute “talk” to me during her performances, which is exactly the type of style I needed on this piece. He contacted her and she turned it around with no problem… Not wanting to lose the instrumental element of my previous solo albums, I wanted to make sure that this sentimental piece of music was included…

2 thoughts on “Studio Campfire Stories: The "SunStorm" Edition – "Say How You Feel" and "For Leslie"

  1. The hot recording environment sounded like it was on some ol' Hustle and Flow ish. . .lol It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who uses the Voice Memo on my iPhone to capture ideas. That joint is a life (or should I say "song") saver!"For Leslie" transitions lovely and the flute is on point. It's cool when everything comes together.

  2. I love the light, fun feel the hand claps offer to "Say How You Feel". Carlitta's voice is always so soft, smooth and inviting. I agree with Fave, the transition into "For Leslie" is perfect.

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