First a coupla disclaimers:
This interview was done before No I.D. was fully aware that Nas was gonna be the feature on “Success.”
If you’ve never heard Accept Your Own and Be Yourself a.k.a. The Original Black Album—you are not hip-hop.
I like to pretend Vol. 1 never existed.
How’d you end up on American Gangster?
What happened was JD was like, “Let’s go work on Jay-Z.” So we went up to the studio and it was like Jay was so specific with what he wanted. It was a lot of people coming in playing joints and it just wasn’t what he wanted. It wasn’t even that it wasn’t good. It was a real tight environment and Jay was like, “Yo man, I’m a listen to you a couple, if you don’t catch me with the first few beats, that’s it.” I do my beats on a laptop, so I just kinda sat in a corner and just did what he was saying he needed right there. But when I did that beat, which is the second beat I did—I kinda wyled out. I stood up, took my headphones off and walked around the room. So anyway I played it, everybody loved it on the spot then he just shook my hand and was like, “Yo man, you need to tell Apple you need an endorsement, ‘cause you walked in with your laptop and did a crazy record for my album on the spot.”
JD was in there at the time too?
Yeah, the whole joke was like, JD had all his equipment set up and I looked like I was maybe on the Internet or something.
So JD is credited as co-producer on the song you did “Success” and you’re co-producer of the song he did “Fallin’.”
In all honesty, JD really did that beat [“Fallin’”]. I really just was, “Man I think you should do this.” He really did that. We surprised each other.
How did you develop a relationship with JD?
With us being from creatively opposite sides from the world so to speak… I used to be like, Yo this dude is stupid successful and makes stuff that I might not. I looked at how most of the producers from my era don’t exist anymore, so I was like, I’m a humble myself and tell ‘em, Let’s work together. I felt like there was things I could help him learn or bring him closer to my world and he could bring me closer to his world.
Have you developed even more respect for him from working with him?
It’s more than just respect, I actually learned from him. I understand totally now why he’s successful and I think we pick up things from each other. There was always respect there, but now it’s like, I understand why it’s a respect. Not I respect you ‘cause you sold some records, like I really respect your thinking process and why you make hits now.
So what’s Don Chi Chi’s secret?
Um, it’s the song writing element of producing and how to make a record really be effective for a person.
So it looks like your song is gonna feature the second collabo between Jay and Nas. How does that feel?
Well all we did when we first recorded the song was come up with the topic and then I left it so I don’t know if whether Nas did his verse or not. They told me Nas was going to be on it. I know certain lines but I ain’t really hear it yet, but I’ll know soon. I’m going to mix it tomorrow.
Seems like your contribution is filling the “PSA” street banger/stadium rocker spot.
That’s what he said he wanted. He said, “I need another ‘PSA’” and I wasn’t going to like bite “PSA” but I knew the elements.
That’s crazy. You know I got to ask you what’s your take on the “Big Brother” record?
Well it wasn’t like a shock to me ‘cause Kanye and I still talk. So, I mean, I love the song.
I guess it feels good to be acknowledged.
Yeah, but I never felt like I wasn’t acknowledged. Like, Ye’s the type of dude, if we woulda been in the studio and Tom Cruise walked in he’d be like, “Man this the dude that taught me everything I know.” So I be like, “Come on man, enough at some point.” It was him acknowledging me at a point where he ain’t necessarily have to.
I’m guessing with the impact of the record, you got people constantly approaching you about it.
Ah man, forget about it. Everyday.
You’re gonna have to change your name to No I.D. The Mentor.
When I look at the press now, that’s who I am—No I.D. The Mentor. I go in the club, they be like, “Yo my mentor!” But all I’m a do now is focus on some music all the other stuff is just a bunch of propaganda.
What other projects you got coming out?
I really want to work on Nas’ album. I want to do some hip-hop. I want to work on Common’s next album, I want to work with Kanye on his next album, I want to do the projects that I want to do now. Working with JD gave me enough commercial stuff to keep that there, and now I’ma just go after the stuff that I really want to do. Like to me, “Success” was No I.D. elevated.
Yeah. Seems like “Success” is going to bring you more success.
Yeah. I told them when we was coming up with the concept, I feel like, when I did this beat, I had like a boastful proud moment in a room full of people. I took a chance. I coulda played that beat and everybody would’ve been like, “C’mon man. You’re wasting our time.” But that’s what the music said to me—that moment when you stand proud.