Fuck a making of an album, here’s a making of just one fuckin’ song. I’m your Source, niggas. Don’t ever get it fucked up. I’m a beast, to say the least.
Sir Hova of Brooklyn on “Show Me What You Got”:
It’s just a playful joint but what makes it different is it has the real live drums feel and it has the horns from Public Enemy’s “Show Em Whatcha Got.” Most people probably remember it from “Rump Shaker.” When it come on, you’ll be like, “‘Rump Shaker’ horns.” And the drums are moving so fast, that it’s not your typical, party… I don’t know if that record crosses over. Only because there’s so much action in the drums. The drums are everywhere. It’s like “Crazy In Love” times ten. But, how I slowed it way down was with the hook. I slowed it way down with the hook. It feels like a hip-hop record. Just did the track and it gave me a chance to really be flexible with the flow. It’s like “Hovi Baby” but with those horns it gives you a little bit of the soulfulness of “Encore.”
Mr. Smith on “Show Me What You Got”:
My man Kenny Dope has the thing where him and his man reissue joints… Remember the Octopus breaks. He gave me the 45 of “Shaft in Africa” and I started messing with it in the crib one day. I always liked the one part where it fell, in the beginning with the horns. So I made a little beat out of it, didn’t really think much of it. When I made this beat, [it was] that scene in Fade to Black… when they’re playing another track. The “Shaft in Africa” beat was the beat I originally did and I got so hype over it, but when I made another song with a New Birth break, I completely forgot about it.
One day, I started visualizing the record in my head and happened to be out in L.A., there are some kids I work with out there, talented musicians that call themselves 1500 or Nothing, and when I’m out there we live in the studio for like a week. I brought the beat up in the Pro Tools session, kept my drums underneath and had the band jam on it, ‘cause I want it to feel like a performance session. I wanted it to feel like you’re at a show. So that’s what we did. I directed them. I was just like, “This is the vision.” We did it three times and I took the best parts of each take. As the record goes on, I wanted it to escalate little by little. It never gets to a point where it feels that it turns into a performance rather than a record.
Anybody who’s been around here for the last year knows I’ve been trying to put those “Darkest Light” horns on a track. I gave a beat to Nas that had those horns. Meth got a beat where I chopped up “Darkest Light” and had the horns in the hook. And these records just didn’t happen, artists changed their minds and I wasn’t one hundred percent happy with the beat. But I was just dying to bring those horns back. That’s like the perfect set-off for a record. You hear that horn and you know that it’s about to be something. As I’m sitting in the room, Jay’s like writing to himself in his head and I’m just sitting there listening to the beat and it hits me like, “Wait a minute, it fits right there.” I said to him like “Yo, what do you think about putting the horns to it?” At first he didn’t really get it. So I actually had to grab it and import the horns into the session while the beats were playing, chopped ‘em up and placed ‘em.
As I’m doing that, Jay’s coming up with a hook, to himself. He keeps saying, “Show me what you got. Show me what you got.” It was one of those things where it was very much meant to be. So now I gotta get the Flav vocals in there. “Show em what cha got!” When things like that start to happen with a record, I feel like it’s meant to be.
The hook is straight-forward and slow. The verse is where he’s really getting in as far as the flow. To me with Jay, and this might come off the wrong way, but I’ve worked with him so many times I’m used to it now. People come in and they see that he’s not writing anything down, he makes up a song in ten minutes then goes in and does it. To me, it’s expected now. There was one situation where he felt like he was going too far with the flow. I was like, “No, you have to give us that. For the people that are really listening to the lyrics.” Steve Stoute couldn’t understand what he was saying and I was just like, “Trust me. You’re not going too far.” People are going to rewind it back three or four times just to catch it. Nobody does that anymore. Now everything is just straight forward—A,B,C, 1,2,3. Jay just comes natural. Every song we’ve done, there are certain parts where he gets ill with it. It’s just like playing ball, dribbling in and out.
I knew it would be one of the best songs on the album. And that was just because… Sometimes you just know. Off of the beat alone you know if it’s special.
Johnny Pate “Shaft In Africa” (1973)
The Lafayette Afro Rock Band “Darkest Light” (1972)
Public Enemy “Show Em Whatcha Got” (1988)