Toppa Top 10: Salaam Remi Breaks Down Ten of His Classic Records

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August 28, 2012

Nas, “The Don”

Last July 4, Heavy D had hit me about โ€œNastyโ€ and he was like โ€œyo, how do you get records to sound so vintage, but still so fresh and young, every time I make something old it feels old, how are you keeping this urgency like a teenager, like pow pow pow pow, even when you do reggae stuff it just be sounding like itโ€™s authentic.โ€ And I was just like โ€œYo, I just make it like I taped it off the radio.โ€ If I go to a Beatles vibe, I’m able to hone into it sonically and get there right now. And he was impressed by that, so he told me that there’s this Super Cat record that if you were able to do it to make it work that would be incredible. “Dance Inna New York,” I had never heard it, so he sent it to me, and I was like wow some Cat shit I never heard. Nas called me, and Iโ€™m playing it on my computer and I’m detailing the conversation with Heavy, and he got so excited talking about how we used to be listening to Heavy to know what’s what, and now he’s calling us like, yo how you did that record? Iโ€™m like damn, that’s just 360.

Nas asked what’s that playing in the background? Itโ€™s the Super Cat record he sent me, to see if I can find a way toย  flip it, and he said, it sounds like Cat said my name right there. Cause Nas and Cat were on tour together were they were at Columbia. Nas used to open up for Super Cat on some of his promo tours, and vice-versa. He recognized that voice and it meant something to him. Super Cat is not just some reggae artist, heโ€™s somebody he got a chance to interact with. He was doing “Halftime” on Cat’s promo tour. I pulled it back aย  bit and said damn, it kind of does sound like your name . If you listen to the record you wont hear “Nas,” even if people listen to where I had sampled it from they donโ€™t really hear it. A couple weeks later Amy [Winehouse] passes and my mind is in a tailspin, and Iโ€™m like let me take this record that Heavy gave me. I chopped it up basically into the track: โ€œNas di don, Nas di don, Nas di donโ€ with the voice being loud, and the bass in there and I pushed it up a little bit. At the โ€œNastyโ€ video shoot, I called Heavy and was like I think I found a way to chop it up but I got it saying โ€œNas di don, Nas di don,โ€ and he said, โ€œif it works for Nas or whoever, I ainโ€™t hating, go for it, that sounds good.โ€ I had some of Nasโ€™s verses that we never used on my iPad, so I actually took the first verse from an old song, and I had my iPad plugged into my brothers car with my DJ mixer on there. Iโ€™m in a Honda, and we in Corona riding out in queens, so I scratch the first verse onto it and and thatโ€™s majority of the first verse, and they are like yo that shit works so I called him and said listen.

I researched the record and saw Jah Thomas produced it. I had actually bought some multi-tracks from Jah Thomas like ten years ago. I called Jah Snowcone, and they tried to call Da’ville, who’s Jah Thomas’ son, and Snowcone call ah mon up di lane to get a number for Jah Thomas, yaad style. Jah Thomas found the 16 track for me, made a tape, and then transferred it to Protools. I sent him the money, boom, now I got the multitrack, going in and moving around things, drove my engineers crazy, trying to line it up too where the track was banging to where I wanted it, and also I had Catsโ€™s voice that I could turn up, down, pan, make it sound bigger, better, play it accapella. I was able to manipulate it that way, then I lined up the sample credits. I tried to reach out to Cat, cause it meant something to Nas and myself that it was Cat. My oldest, greatest record is a Super Cat record, and both of us [wanted] to make sure that was lined up as being “The Don.” Eventually there were different versions, and then the one that came out popped off. It had a story, and also I wanted to make sure Heavy D was credited, paid and sorted out. He just sent me the record on some good vibes, like yo, if you could find a way to flip this, this shit would rock now. Heavy was hearing the Heavy D deejaying across it, but what I ended up making it into had nothing to do with that, it was choppng it up into a whole different thing.