Studio Campfire Stories: ‘ManMade’ Edition – “For Tina” (feat. Sy Smith)


“Ayo, I’ve got one question for you…. WHO IS TINA???” © Every damn body

Well…. I’m gonna get to that in a minute..

FIrst, let me break down how the music came about and then I’ll clarify who Tina is. I clearly remember creating this one on a Wednesday afternoon in March 2012. In typical fashion, I can remember laying the drums out first (on the original drafts, the snare has a light single echo, which I ended up not missing at all upon hearing the final mix), which then influenced a chord progression I worked out on the piano to hit right before the “2” and the “4” within each measure. To thicken the chords up some, I layered them with some Rhodes keys that had a panning phase effect on them that created a “spacey” feel when I arpeggiated the chords. The strings that appear at 1:03 were originally only brought in for the hooks of the track and because of its movements, combined with the bass notes that seemed to almost “grow” on each hit reminded me of a movie score. As a result of the feel and the day of the week that it was made, I originally named the instrumental, “Wednesday Soundtrack”. Once everything was finished, I sent it on through to Phonte… The original instrumental was about four and a half minutes long.

This one wasn’t written to for months and musically it’s the “oldest” track on ManMade (all of the music that made the album was completed between March 2012 and January 2013). When Phonte and I spoke about the idea he had for the lyrics, he just told me, “It’s gonna be almost a part two of “Show Me The Way”… I can’t really explain it…. Just wait ’til we record it, you’ll get it when you hear it.” At that particular point in time, the only thing we had vocally on “Show Me The Way” was Carmen Rodgers’ hook, so imagine my reaction when I got Sy Smith’s vocal reference for “For Tina” and I heard her come in immediately with…

“Show me the waaay back baby, show me the waaay back baby…”

I leaned back in my studio chair as if I had just uncovered one of life’s greatest equations…. “AhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHH…. I see now!” It all made sense. The lyrical continuation added cohesiveness, which is always appreciated when producing a full album… On TOP of that, flautist Claudia Hayden (“For Leslie”, “Driving”) was back on board adding light touches of absolutely BEAUTY to the song. When I heard her come in on the intro portion, fluttering those carefully positioned notes, I was like… “Yoooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!” …We even positioned it so that it was a MUSICAL continuation of “Show Me The Way” …It felt perfect.

But still, who is Tina?

I wanted to listen to the joint to hear if I was able to catch anything that would have clued me in without Phonte telling me who Tina was in advance. Going through the music, I didn’t hear anything ………until it hit that second half. Have you ever heard a lyric interpolation that sounds familiar as hell, but you can’t seem to place it? Well when I heard Sy sing…

“Show me the love, don’t playa hate me, show me the love don’t playa hate meeee…. Show me the loooooove / Show me the loooooove….”

…that’s exactly how I felt. “I’ve HEARD that before!! Where to I KNOW that LINE from???” Now, I need y’all to follow me on this one. For my Dwele fans and/or those who are familiar with his FIRST release entitled Rize, there was a song on there called “Timeless”. ON the song “Timeless”, there was a young lady who most of you may be familiar with as Airasoul who sang the hook on Slum Village’s “Climax”. Well, Airasoul better known as Tina Marie Glover is the sister of the late, great Baatin OF Slum Village. On Dwele’s “Timeless” featuring Tina Marie, she closes the song with the line…. and THAT is where I remembered hearing it. So, while “For Tina” was serving as a part two of “Show Me The Way”, it more importantly was a tribute to Tina Marie and how dope her contribution to that song was – or just how dope the song was in general. In Phonte’s words… “Maaaaan, I used to RUN that jam!” To me, not only it is a tribute to Tina herself, but an ode to Detroit and all of its TALENT. Shit, I could write a novel on that subject alone.

Soooooo… I hope that clears everything up… Shouts to Tina Marie, Dwe, and to the city of Detroit.

Purchase ManMade HERE • Or on iTunes

Maaan, The First Time I Heard: “Climax” Slum Village

I have PLENTY of musical Dilla memories, but the one that probably sticks out the most is when I first heard Slum Village’s “Climax” from their album, Fantastic Vol. 2. So, let’s rewind back to the summer of 2000… My 12-year baseball career had just come to an end and I only had two classes remaining in order to graduate from Western Kentucky University. I was back home in Michigan for part of the summer and buying SV’s Fantastic Vol. 2 album was at the TOP of my to-do list at the time. I’m sure I probably looked through the latest issue of The Source magazine for an official release date, marked it down and made sure that when that Tuesday arrived, I was at the nearest music store, front and center at the cash register with a copy in my hand ready to purchase…

Already a huge SV fan off of tracks like “I Don’t Know”, “2U4U”, “Fantastic”, “The Look Of Love” and “Players” (later on, I’ll have to share that story as well), I was MORE THAN ready for a full-length album of theirs to be released. The date finally came… Tuesday, June 13, 2000. It was nice outside because I can remember driving over to Sam Goody with all of my windows down. Now, let’s also keep in mind that I had a couple of 12″ subs in the trunk of my car as well (I had them put in because of yet ANOTHER DIlla-produced track… A Tribe Called Quest’s “Find A Way”). I arrived at the spot, ran in, found and purchased the Slum CD, got back into the car and tore away the wrapping with my trusty “EZ-CD opener” they used to give us at the beginning of each college year and popped the album in the player. After the intro, “Conant Gardens” hit me over the head with a stand out bass riff that was perfectly complimented by those signature hard ass Jay Dee drums that SNAPPED, followed by “I Don’t Know” and “Jealousy”…… and then after a brief phone skit starring Jay Dee and a young lady, the phone convo broke away very quickly right into into Dilla saying,

“You ain’t gotta play hard to get….. I know you….”

The beat dropped in with this eerie, yet pretty atmospheric filtered out chords while the first clap hit on the “know”…..By this time I was already completely captivated by the first half of the beat… And then it happened….. I wasn’t ready for it at all. The first two notes of that thick bassline pushed through my subwoofers and my mind was absolutely blown and all I could manage to get out was, “YOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” …And JUST when I didn’t think it couldn’t get any better after Dilla’s verse…… The hook came in. Tina Marie Glover a/k/a Airasoul came in with….

“I want you right heeeeere in my worrrrrld……

…..beeeein’ witchu all alone, is like a dreeeam COME true, true, true….”

But that wasn’t the wild shit…. The WILD shit was, underneath her vocals they scratched in the “Space Intro” joint by Steve Miller Band, which at the time I had recently picked that same SMB album up in a dollar bin at a store in Nashville. I heard that piece and I LOST it, literally. With all of those contributing factors coming together at once, I tell NO lie… I almost ran myself off of the road……. IN MY OWN NEIGHBORHOOD. I wasn’t paying attention to anything but the elements that made up this excellence of a song and almost ended up in somebody’s ditch….Thank you, SV for damn near raising my car insurance in 2000.

Who would have known that I would be in the Barak Studios working with these kats less than three years later. They don’t know this story either… lol

Slum Village – “Climax” (Video)

“Maaan, the first time I heard…” is a series of blog entires I’ll be putting together where, you guessed it… I recall the first time I placed my ears on specific songs or albums. This should be fun as well as a test in how effective this daily dose of gingko biloba is that I ingest with my ‘bruffus’…