It wasn’t hard for me to get her, but it was hard for everybody else. I’m grateful and thankful.
Ah, so your Mr. Biggs side made her an offer she couldn’t refuse?
[Laughs] Yeah, something like that… And I also did something with Aretha Franklin who is my best friend. We talked about recording something together ever since the beginning, when we first met each other, which was 1962 when she was just getting started.
And what about T.I.?
I wrote a song with Greg Curtis and John Neville, “Put Your Money on Me,” and we talked about the only person who would be able to do this is T.I. and so we reached out and he did a fabulous job.
Talk about some of the album’s production, did R. Kelly hook it up too?
Not on this album. I did 15 songs and we chose 11. I worked with Tricky Stewart, I did two songs with him. I did a song with Tank, which was incredible. When you hear the song I did with him, it’s gonna shock a lot of people.
I don’t want to give too much away but it’s a Mr. Biggs thing. A lot of people will wonder, “Wow, how did y’all come up with that?” It’s one of them kind of songs.
Your music has been sampled ridiculously in hip-hop. What are some of your favorites?
“In Between the Sheets” with Biggie [“Big Poppa”] that’s one of my favorites. And Ice Cube did one of my favorites with “It’s a Good Day,” he sampled “Footsteps in the Dark.” One other song was with Tupac⎯”For the Love of You,” he sampled that. All our catalogue has been sampled like crazy.
How did that help you when you needed to make a comeback in the 90s?
It helped in a way. That’s the appreciation that we’ve gotten. That’s where Mr. Biggs comes from. They call me “Mr. I” too. All the young people⎯they know more than a lot of people think that they know and they chose our catalogue. I’m grateful.
So, who officially named you “Mr. Biggs?”
It was basically all the in crowd. R. Kelly and all of that.
Talk about your relationship with R. Kelly.
He’s like a son to me. He’s very talented and he’s working on a couple albums now. He spent quite a bit of time in Africa. We talked about doing some things together but I didn’t get do anything with him this time. We’ll give it a rest for a second or so and then we’ll get back at it.
Was it that your schedules didn’t match?
Yeah. And like I said, he was in Africa and I was knee deep in doing the album here in The States.
What about Lil’ Kim, you working with her?