Studio Campfire Stories: ‘Tales From The Land Of Milk And Honey’ Edition – “Asking For A Friend”

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This song right here? “Asking For A Friend”??! As some of you may know by now, this was the first single released from the upcoming The Foreign Exchange album Tales From The Land Of Milk And Honey this past Monday night.

BUT….

Let me explain to y’all how there almost wasn’t even an album to begin with………

No, for real.

Making music is unpredictable. SO unpredictable that this entire project began with a very brief conversation Nicolay and I had during soundcheck before The Foreign Exchange’s New Year’s Eve show in Durham, NC on December 31, 2012 about possibly getting up to do some studio work. Up to that point, Phonte and I had worked closely on music dating back to the end of 2005 and I had worked with Sy Smith and Jeanne Jolly (who both toured with us at the time), but I still hadn’t stepped into the studio with Nic yet. I mean, he and I had played numerous shows together and we have done work on the same songs before by trading files, but never had we been in the same studio, at the same time, creating while trading ideas. Now, on paper it made sense… Two producers/multi-instrumentalists who both compose from scratch without aiming their final product at any genre in particular…. But what folks don’t understand is that the idea of a “perfect” collaboration can be tough when it comes down to its actual execution. For example, when I create music, I do it solo. Nobody just hanging around, no 20 people in the studio while I’m working, no “yes” men or hype men there to gas up every single note, chord, or new sound I play…. Absolutely, alone. Same with Nic. So, the idea of simply working together with another producer who creates in almost the same fashion presented itself to be somewhat of a challenge in our minds – I think because, creatively we didn’t want to step on toes. But with the May 2013 release of my solo album, ManMade and the September release of +FE’s Love In Flying Colors under our belts, we finally decided to give it a try and locked in a time to get to work. By the time we finally got up in February 2014, it was waaaay overdue. I loaded my car with some equipment, grabbed my small carry-on suitcase and hopped on 95 South for the six-hour drive from Silver Spring, MD to Wilmington, NC. I was anxious to get some new music done and to be honest, neither of us knew what to expect. On the drive down, several thoughts ran through my head…..

The hell will this music sound like?!

How will our sounds mesh together? Will they compliment or clash?

Will it sound more like a Nicolay track? ….Or will it sound more like something I did?

Let me explain one thing about art….. If you overthink it, you kill it. He and I knew not to discuss these things beforehand and I’m glad we didn’t because once I arrived at Nic’s studio, instincts took over and we just let the music happen. Three to four days later, we walked outta there with seven brand new instrumentals. Upon leaving, the only question I had while driving back home was, “Why didn’t we do this shit SOONER?!?!?!!” To me, the craziest part was the fact that the music sounded like Nicolay …AND it sounded like me – the two styles merged and the sound was literally split down the middle. With these seven new ones in the chamber, we then talked about working toward completing a “Nicolay & Zo! EP” containing some music with vocals and maybe a couple of instrumentals in there. I spoke publicly about the EP throughout 2014, we even discussed touring options once it was released and everything….

Fast forward to the top of 2015 when Phonte started recording to some of the music along with Carmen Rodgers, Tamisha Waden, Shana Tucker and Carlitta Durand… Once the music started to take shape around the new vocals that were recorded, we decided to focus on creating a “crew” album rather than just a Nic & Zo! EP… An +FE Music “compilation” project, basically. Sounded like an excellent idea to me… But, It also sounded like Nic and I needed to get back to work on some more music so that we could have a full album’s worth of material to pull from.  After coordinating schedules again, on March 31, 2015, that’s exactly what we began to do. I drove back down to NC for round TWO of marathon studio sessions in Wilmington.

The second time was a bit different mainly because we knew what to expect from each other from the jump…. At this point, all we needed to do was open up a “New Session” on Pro Tools and go in. Once I arrived, we set up quickly and jumped right into something brand new. I can’t remember why we specifically decided to knock out a House track that night for that very first song, but I DO remember being hyped up about it being as though I had never worked on one before…. Hell, I had never even PLAYED on one.

Nicolay sat down and began to program the drum track. In the final version, listen to the way the intro for “Asking For A Friend” comes in piece by piece. It’s perfect because that’s damn near how I heard him make the drums. First, was the four-to-the-floor kick with the open hi-hats, then, the toms…. percussion pieces, the snare ….and finally the claps to round it all out. As he was getting everything together drum-wise, I sat down on the Rhodes just to see what would happen and the very first thing that came out was the melody line you hear (right as Phonte’s vocals begin in the final version)… I then hopped on one of my favorite weapons in the studio, the Moog Little Phatty keyboard to work the bassline out until finding something that we both agreed with and from there it was back to the Rhodes to knock out the chord progression for what was to become the hook. Once the hook progression came THAT’S when things seemed to tie together, musically. By this time, Nic had the drums KNOCKING along with all of the intricacies placed and polished. Once we layered that hook up nicely with synths and strings, we added a fully extended vamp out and called it a night. While sipping coffee at damn near midnight we ran the song on repeat, satisfied with the new ‘nod’ to old school house music we had just created – Shit felt like a party in there. Meanwhile, two hours west in Raleigh, NC… Phonte and Carmen were getting ready to set up shop in the studio as well. With two spots running simultaneously for three to four days, we KNEW there was gonna be something special to coming out of this. So we sent the music to them to hear and write to if that’s what they felt, etc. Honestly, I really just wanted to hear their initial responses…

The next day, when Nic and I got back in the studio… Phonte had already called excited about this new record…… BUT, with the music that we already had for the album, he was thinking that it may have been too “hard” of a house record to include in the album batch. No problem… Hell, I knew we would use it somewhere down the line, the joint jammed too hard. We then moved on to start creating the next piece, which we would also send to Phonte and Carmen along with a third joint later on at the end of that day. In total, we ended up creating and sending 5 or 6 new ones to Raleigh, NC that week. ….But they kept going back to listen to that first one.

Once we wrapped, I drove back to Maryland on that Friday, April 3rd …and I’ll be damned if on APRIL 6TH, Nic and I didn’t receive an email from Phonte with the subject title “Asking For A Friend” that read……

“This shit went from “maybe it’s too hard” to “this could be the first single” REAL QUICK.”

I KNEW he couldn’t turn away from that joint!! I clicked the attachment and listened to the long introduction while nodding hard as hell….

“Work….Work….Work…..Work………..”

Heeeeell yeah… I was completely locked in wondering what would happen next once the verse started. Then the vocals came in …..and when them vocals came in??!?! ….WHEN THE VOCALS CAME IN?!?!?

My response: “Yoooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!”

The last time I responded like that to some vocals Phonte sent over to me, it was our “Africa” remake. I got him on the phone immediately and said, “You were on your Rockwell ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ shit with this one…” He explained that it was more of a Talking Heads “Once In A Lifetime” feel, which works completely because this is meant to be a FUN joint, so be fearless and go ALL the way in. We went from talking about the song itself, to this brand new collection of music we were now sitting on. He told me that after talking with Nic, the project went from an +FE Music compilation….. to an +FE ALBUM, to which I responded, “Hell yeah… RUNNIT!” I got hyped up not only because I felt the collection of music was CRAZY, but also because I knew I had production credit on all of it right along with Nicolay and Phonte – a first for an +FE project.   …..To make it even better, y’all get to hear the stories behind it all.

Zo! – ‘ManMade’ (2013) FULL Album Credits

ManMade

Zo!
ManMade
PURCHASE ALBUM
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-Listed at #3 on CentricTV’s Best R&B Albums of 2013-
“…the album maintains an easy elegance and never derails.”
-AllMusic.com

01. The Train featuring Sy Smith
Produced by Zo! for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music (BMI)
Written by Sy Smith for Sybersong Publishing (ASCAP)
Vocals Recorded and Mixed by Grant “G-Nick” Nicholas
All Vocals by Sy Smith
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and Rumbo Studios, Winnetka, CA

02. Count To Five featuring Gwen Bunn
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Lead Vocals by Gwen Bunn
Background Vocals by Phonte and Gwen Bunn
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

03. New In Town (Happy) featuring 1-O.A.K. and Carlitta Durand
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP) and Carlitta Durand for Durand Music Group (ASCAP)
Lead and Background Vocals by 1-O.A.K. and Carlitta Durand
Additional Background Vocals by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

04. Making Time featuring Phonte and Choklate
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP) and Choklate for Chokolesta Music (ASCAP)
Lead Vocals by Phonte
Background Vocals by Choklate and Phonte
Trumpet by Al Strong IV
Trombone by Andrew Kleindienst
All Other Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

05. Tell Me Something New featuring Jeanne Jolly
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
All Vocals by Jeanne Jolly
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

06. ManMade featuring Phonte
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
All Vocals by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

07. We Are On The Move featuring Eric Roberson
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Lead Vocals by Eric Roberson
Background Vocals by Gwen Bunn, Phonte and Sy Smith
Congas, Timbales and Other Percussion by Brevan Hampden
All Other Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

08. Show Me The Way featuring Anthony David and Carmen Rodgers
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP) and Walter Baker for Songs For The Rebel (ASCAP)
Lead Vocals by Anthony David
Background Vocals by Carmen Rodgers
Additional Background Vocals by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

09. For Tina
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
All Vocals by Sy Smith
Flute by Claudia Hayden
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

10. Out In The World featuring Choklate
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Choklate for Chokolesta Music (ASCAP) and Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Lead Vocals by Choklate
Additional Background Vocals and Rap by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

11. Body Rock featuring Sy Smith
Produced by Zo! & Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Written by Phonte Coleman for Daddy’s New Bowtie (ASCAP)
Lead Vocals by Sy Smith
Background Vocals by Sy Smith and Phonte
Flute by Tim Smith
All Other Instruments by Zo!
Recorded at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

Mixed and Mastered by Chris Boerner at The Burlap Palace, Raleigh, NC

© 2013 The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
P.O. Box 12208
Wilmington, NC 28405

STUDIO CAMPFIRE STORIES: ‘ManMade’ Edition – “New In Town (Happy)” (feat. 1-O.A.K. and Carlitta Durand)

1-O.A.K.

The roots for one kinda goes all the way back to a previous working session Phonte and I had in June of 2010 for The Foreign Exchange’s Authenticity album. When the two of us sat down in my studio to produce the original draft for what was to become +FE’s “Fight For Love”. We first worked out the chord changes and I laid out some “dummy” drums… Or drums to hold the groove together at the time simply for writing/recording or demoing purposes to be thrown away later on. Well…. Fast forward more than two years later  to October of 2012. I called Phonte and told him… “Man, I’ve had these drums in my head for a few days now and I THINK they’re the same pattern as what I laid down for the DEMO version of “Fight For Love”.” This is why I always say that a higher power is with you while creating music simply because it was really unbelievable how that SAME particular pattern was just archived in my brain like that. Things like that don’t happen just because …there’s purpose and meaning behind it. Since the drums were something I did originally and were simply thrown away and never used for anything released…. Of course I had the green light to utilize my own drum pattern. ……..and I did.

Once I recorded the major portion of the drum pattern and got the correct feel of the drums that I was looking for, I then played the hi-hat live over top of it, which really seemed to add some character to the joint. The sixteenth notes every second bar pushed the pattern along a little bit while adding a bit of movement – I wanted that because of the way I already envisioned the album being played live. Now with the drums moving the way that they were, I wanted the chords to take time going through the progression…… BUT when the bassline was added, it moved right along with the drums thus connecting the two effectively.

Carlitta Durand

Interestingly enough, Phonte and I originally heard Jeanne Jolly on this joint ……..that is until I did the music for “Tell Me Something New”…. But I’ll get to that story a little later on. Phonte wrote they lyrics and recorded a reference, which sounded dope… THEN he hit up the studio version of Ms. Johnnie On-The-Spot, the one and only Carlitta Durand who always comes through in that clutch. She went into the studio and smashed her part. Hearing her “response” in the form of a pre-hook and her hook over the music really brought it to life… This was a helluva pleasant surprise to me, because I didn’t even know Carlitta was gonna be on it – Phonte just sent the joint on through to me with the credits. Talk about a vocal “cherry on top”.

Now we had a joint featuring Phonte and Carlitta almost reminiscent of our “Say How You Feel” days from 3-4 years ago, which was cool…. But we wanted a different look for this one – enter mah man from the Bay, 1-O.A.K. I have known this brotha for a few years now. Back in 2009 when I was on the road with PPP (Platinum Pied Pipers), he and one of my favorite producers out of the Bay Area, Trackademicks opened up for us in San Francisco and Los Angeles. As a matter of fact, we recently ran into each other again after the last San Francisco +FE show in October at Mezzanine. At that time, I had no idea that he would 1) Be contributing to my album, which was already in the works at the time, and 2) Have such a key contribution to the album. Hearing his newly laid vocals on the track was the PERFECT compliment to Carlitta’s already recorded parts. It was precisely the type of energy we were wanting to bring forth in this song as 1-O.A.K. brought almost a “youthful” sound to the music that fit the subject matter and duet perfectly…

“’cause I’m giving yooooou!! …Nothing but the very best part of meeee… Feels like I am finally freee-eee!!”

…Throughout the recording process of this one, I always thought that part was dope because he sang that shit like he MEANT it… Then to hear Carlitta follow those verses up with her unassuming yet very commanding tone where words and phrases leave her vocal chords with the same ease and effort as that of a regular conversation. The pairing made for excellent chemistry, in my humble opinion because their communication back and forth in the song sounded authentic and realistic. PLUS… I would LOVE to witness to the two of them performing this song live… Together.

Purchase ManMade HERE • Or on iTunes

Zo! – ManMade

ManMade

The sophomore release from producer/keyboardist Zo! of The Foreign Exchange’s +FE Music family. Includes appearances from Phonte, Eric Roberson, Sy Smith, Jeanne Jolly, Carmen Rodgers, Anthony David and more.

1. The Train feat. Sy Smith
2. Count To Five feat. Gwen Bunn (VIDEO)
3. New In Town (Happy) feat. 1-O.A.K. & Carlitta Durand
4. Making Time feat. Phonte & Choklate
5. Tell Me Something New feat. Jeanne Jolly
6. ManMade feat. Phonte
7. We Are On The Move feat. Eric Roberson (VIDEO)
8. Show Me The Way feat. Anthony David & Carmen Rodgers
9. For Tina
10. Out In The World feat. Choklate & Phonte
11. Body Rock feat. Sy Smith

PURCHASE CD DIGIPAK + FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD

PURCHASE FROM ITUNES

PURCHASE FROM AMAZON

• #3 Best R&B Album of 2013 by CentricTV
“ManMade is a complete work — his best creation yet.” -Andy Kellman, AllMusic.com

‘ManMade’ Album Review via AllMusic.com

Source: AllMusic.com
Author: Andy Kellman

One sign of a great album is when its last track is as stimulating as its first track. “Body Rock” ends Lorenzo Ferguson‘s second album for the Foreign Exchange label with eight minutes of heavenly, faultlessly crafted quiet storm. Thirty-eight minutes earlier, at the beginning, there’s the deeply contrasting “The Train,” a blissful machine-soul jam where Ferguson displays mastery of the synthetic and the organic. Those highlights feature two of Sy Smith‘s sweetest and best vocal performances, and they surround a high quantity of strong songs. Make that stronger songs: while ManMade has much in common with 2010’s fine SunStorm, this particular set of relaxed and mature R&B is a little more complex and nuanced, yet the instant appeal remains. As with Ferguson‘s previous album, the moods here are predominantly romantic and relentlessly positive, even when it briefly confronts the pressures expressed by Phonte in “Out in the World.” ManMade features some of the same collaborators, including not just Smith and frequent background and foreground presence Phonte, but also Carlitta Durand and Eric Roberson, the latter of whom leads the sophisticated twilight funk of “We Are on the Move.” Whether the leads are supplied by labelmate Jeanne Jolly, the higher profile Anthony David, up-and-comers Gwen Bunn and 1-O.A.K., or underexposed veterans like Choklate and Carmen Rodgers, the album maintains an easy elegance and never derails. For all the help he receives, this is Ferguson‘s show. On each track, he’s credited with either “all instruments” or “all other instruments,” which means that he played everything but some flute, horns, and percussion. ManMade is a complete work — his best creation yet.

Click here to see full article

PRE-ORDER your SIGNED copy of ‘ManMade’!!!!

ManMade

Zo!’s upcoming album ManMade will hit stores May 21. If you pre-order your copy NOW from the +FE Music Store, not only will you be the first to receive the album, but your copy will be SIGNED by Zo!

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER MANMADE

1. The Train feat. Sy Smith
2. Count To Five feat. Gwen Bunn
3. New In Town (Happy) feat. 1-O.A.K. & Carlitta Durand
4. Making Time feat. Phonte & Choklate
5. Tell Me Something New feat. Jeanne Jolly
6. ManMade feat. Phonte
7. We Are On The Move feat. Eric Roberson
8. Show Me The Way feat. Anthony David & Carmen Rodgers
9. For Tina
10. Out In The World feat. Choklate & Phonte
11. Body Rock feat. Sy Smith

And Another Contribution Added to the “Discography Wall” – ‘+FE Music: The Reworks’

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My ‘Reworks’ hard copy double CD arrived in the mail this afternoon. Another proud contribution (“Gonna Be A Beautiful Night (Zo’s Legendary Story Of A Star Remix)) made to a helluva compilation. PLUS this means we are getting closer to the release of ManMade.

New Discography: Phonte “Gonna Be A Beautiful Night” (Zo’s Legendary Story of a Star Remix) (feat. Carlitta Durand)

Phonte
(feat. Carlitta Durand)
“Gonna Be A Beautiful Night (Zo’s Legendary Story Of A Star Remix)”
Remix Produced by Zo!
All Instruments by Zo!
From The Foreign Exchange album +FE Music: The Reworks
Buy Here

The Foreign Exchange Presents +FE Music: The Reworks

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I have been hinting at the fact that I have something on the upcoming +FE Remix project, well… the official announcement has been made. There’s a helluva line-up of music here as you read through the tracklisting AND the lead single “So What If It Is” is available for free download. This double-disc is available for pre-order NOW and will be released on February 26, 2013.

Aaaaand 2013 is OFFICIALLY underway…

Taken from The Foreign Exchange’s Site:

Selections from The Foreign Exchange’s +FE Music catalog as remixed by Nicolay, Zo!, 4hero, The Randy Watson Experience (?uestlove & James Poyser), Focus…, Tall Black Guy, Pirahnahead, and more. Includes three new studio tracks. In stores February 26 on +FE Music.

Tracklisting:

Disc 01:

01. The Foreign Exchange- So What If It Is
02. The Foreign Exchange- The Last Fall (Focus… +FE Experience Remix)
03. Zo! feat. Phonte- Flight of the Blackbyrd (4hero Remix)
04. The Foreign Exchange- Fight For Love (Nicky Mendes and Brasil ’66 Remix)
05. Deborah Bond- Say It (Nicolay Remix)
06. The Foreign Exchange feat. Paris & Amber Strother of KING- All The Kisses (Ahmed Sirour Remix)
07. The Foreign Exchange feat. YahZarah- If She Breaks Your Heart (The Randy Watson Experience Remix)
08. The Foreign Exchange feat. Darien Brockington & Median- Maybe She’ll Dream of Me (Pure P’s Sky Hygh Remix)
09. The Foreign Exchange feat. YahZarah- If This Is Love (Nicky Buckingham’s Fleetwood Remix)
10. Vikter Duplaix- Electric Love (Nicolay Remix)
11. Zo! feat. Chantae Cann- All Is Well With Love (Pirahnahead Remix)

Disc 02:

01. Phonte feat. Focus… & Sy Smith- Love Songs
02. The Foreign Exchange feat. Darien Brockington- All or Nothing/Coming Home To You (Pure P’s Midsommarkransen Night’s Dream Remix)
03. RJD2 feat. Kenna- Games You Can Win (Nicolay Remix)
04. Phonte feat. Carlitta Durand- Gonna Be A Beautiful Night (Zo’s Legendary Story of a Star Remix)
05. Jeanne Jolly- Sweet Love (Nicolay Remix)
06. The Foreign Exchange- Don’t Let It Be So
07. Zo! feat. Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington & Phonte- This Could Be The Night (Tall Black Guy Remix)
08. Sy Smith- The Art Of You (Nicolay Remix)
09. Phonte- Ball and Chain (Sheldon Williams Remix)
10. The Hot At Nights- ACSlater (Nicolay Remix)

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…