..One summer, at least I think it was summer,I went to the Bushwick Brooklyn HQ of Da Beatmierz,to link up with Evil Dee to go label hopping.Got to the lab,rang the doorbell and was greeted by Mr.Walt…”What Up Boy!”..me..”What Up Boy!”.Walking down the hall way to the studio/kitchen area..he was muttering something to me,but I couldn’t hear much, ’cause there’s a beat playing and somebody yelling at the top of their lungs..”C’mon on man,you supposed to make those baby!”.We walk into the kitchen and the intros commence..Mr.Walt..”Yo Dex this is my man Rashied..Sheed this my man Dex”..him..”Sup Joe”..me..”sup man pleasure to meet you”..him..”Likewise brother likewise..you got next on here or what?”.By the way the person I met was Common Sense,the next he was referring to was NBA Live and yes he can whup anybody’s ass on there.I don’t think we made to the second quarter before three of my starting five were in foul trouble.That’s what you get for picking the Knicks!Back to the studio/kitchen..Walt..”Dex I would offer you a Heineken but…”without uttering another word, Walt tilts his head sideways like three or four times in Common’s direction..Comm..”Man whatever I didn’t drink that much”..Walt..”Dude there were like twelve beers in here an hour ago!”…Comm..”Whatever whatever”.We chill for a minute,talking about whatever the hell til E comes down.BS’ing continued for a lil while longer,then me and bounce to Manhattan and leave Walt and Comm Sense to it.
..Move along to another summer,I think,and I’m at D&D,working with Premo on one of several “side” projects we had for that year.It was a hectic year already with the fact that on top of the side joints we had to do we had to finish up an M.O.P. project..I think it was ‘Worriorz”..not to mention GangStarr was also on tour,Smokin Grooves I believe,so alotta the times it was just me printing Primo’s beats and recording vocals with artists while Preem was on the road.Today he was in town for a minute..I get the call while I was waiting for him at the studio..”Yo find me a reel with some room on it..I gotta lay this beat down for Common..”..me(as I have done so many times before)replied..”Gotcha”..I go find a reel..did my engineering thing and waited.Preem shows up a lil later,the beat is laid to tape and Preem goes..”So listen I aint gonna be here for the vocals you think you can handle it for me?”..me..”Yea why not?”..him..”Cool, cause you know we go on the road tomorrow and all that…”..me..”It’s cool,I got it”.After a day goes by I get a call from Sarah Honda and David Carpenter to confirm that Common would be coming in to do his vocals the following day,which was like a Tuesday or something.”Cool whatever as long as he shows up!”.The day is here and so is he,early,and I can’t believe it’s the same guy I met maybe a year or so ago at E and Walt’s crib.No more baggy ass gear,now he all slim fitting and shit,making my fat more apparent.He walks into the “B” room with his manager and looks at me like “I know this cat!”…me..”Sup man,met you at Walt’s crib that ti…”..him..”Yo that’s right how you Brother?”..me..”I’m chillin,I’m chillin..you need a minute or you good to go?”..him..”yea lemme get a few seconds to get my thoughts together”..me..”cool”.He reaches into his back pack and pulls out a box of Nag Champa(incense for those of you who don’t know) and lights one up as he chops it up with his manager.”Can you run the beat for me right quick,this aint gonna take me long”..he says to me,to which I was like..”Cool”.So now the beat is playing,Nag Champa burning and he’s vybing out,I’m in the main lounge like..”Man this dude has changed!”
A few minutes go by and Common calls me into the room..”I’m ready”..and he literally ran through the song verse by verse.No punch in’s,a few take it from the tops(maybe twice) and we were done..just get in and get it done!The delivery to me was flawless.He gets out the booth to listen to the entire song on the studio monitors..he’s pleased as is his manager and they ask me my opinion..”You think Preem gonna dig it?”..me..”Hell yeah..that shit is perfect son”..”Cool”.I give him a copy and make one for Preem to be FedEx’d to him the next day..we say our goodbyes and we leave the studio…and the “6th Sense” is almost done…but it’s never that easy!On my way back to my crib in BK, I get a call from Comm himself..”Yo do you think we can get into the studio tomorrow..I wanna do the verses over”..me(to self)..”Nigga are you crazy?That shit is dope as is”..but to him I say..”Yeah no doubt,same time?”..he agrees to it..”Cool,Peace!”Next day..he’s in the room, does his Nag Champa thing and goes into the booth and recites the song,slightly different on the delivery.Glad I kept the first take,which I liked,he loves the new take..him..”We gonna have to wait for the man to say what he wants to do huh?”..me..”Yup..I think he gonna like it though,shit is tight,trust me”..him..”Aight Joe”.Before we leave that day though he lets me know that he’s gonna have his boy come in and lay a reference vocal for Mary J who’s agreed to do the chorus for the song…”Bet!”The next day he arrives with his man Bilal,looking like a mini Lenny Kravitz,cool dude though..didn’t say much.He lays the reference down and I’m like that damn was easy…but of course NOT!Comm wants to do the vocals over again!..”Last time brother last time,I promise,I promise”.Third take recorded and copied now with chorus ref and sent off.We again part ways.Now remember I said it’s never easy…well it isn’t.Ya see Common was signed to MCA/Universal Records at this time,as was Mary J.However Mary was in contract re-negotiations and things came to a head,so she couldn’t record for anybody,not even a label mate,as her old contract was still in place,valid and binding.So we now have to switch gears,and put Bilal in place of Mary.Easy enough because he wrote the chorus.He sailed through it and even added some unexpected ad-libs and riffs along the way.Everyone present loves it and all we need now is Preem’s approval.Several FedEx packages and phone calls later the man is back in town and me and him go through the song take by take.He likes parts of one and not the other..so we kinda mix and match the one’s he’s feeling..and the best part?Comm didn’t have to come back and re do a thing,which he,Common, was nervous about.”You really think Preem gonna dig this?”..he would ask me..”Yeah son you gave him enuff takes that he can fuck around with it and Bilal slayed the chorus so we good”..him..”Aight Joe,if you say so.You know him a lil better than me..”..me..”If he says do it over I’m buying you a Heineken!”..and he replied with a slight grin..”Bet!”..
Written by Dexter Thibou