Ghetto Fabolous — Fabolous (2001)
“I recorded Ghetto Fabolous in New York. We laid down the songs in a grimier atmosphere than you see today. Since then, all kinds of recording studios have been built and everything has become more fancy. But this was back when everybody had their little homemade recording studios and little spots that you would find in an industrial building or a warehouse. This is when Primo’s (DJ Premier) D&D studios was still around. It was more about making great hip-hop and being somewhere where you can knock it out without all the politics. I remember building Ghetto Fabolous from the ground up. We had no measure of what we had to do in terms of sound or concepts. We just went into the studio and got it done.
Going into my first album, my frame of mind was representing my generation of hip-hop. Also, after all the work I had put in on the mixtape level, to graduate out of that meant moving on to make a successful [studio] album. I wanted to evolve. You have to grow and become that album artist that people respect your songs and not just your freestyles.
It was a great feeling having a hit single my first time out with ‘Can’t Deny It.’ To be able to drop that first song and have people embrace it and love it the way they did was refreshing. And R.I.P. to Nate Dogg. He brought a special element to that song. He was from the West Coast and I was from the East Coast, so what we did was marry our sounds and make a great joint out of it. Think about it. Just a few years earlier there was a lot of East Coast-West Coast beef. So this was one of the few times after that that you saw the two sides merging and collaborating again. It worked out very well.
And then I was able to get a Neptunes track! I was amazed to get that joint ‘Young'n (Holla Back).’ One thing about working with Clue and Duro is that they had a lot of relationships within the music industry. Duro was a great engineer and Clue of course was a well known DJ and producer. People knew him from his parties, radio and mixtapes. So they both were able to pull things that people would not be able to pull. It would normally cost me too much money to get producers like the Neptunes. But they were able to get me a song from Pharrell. The crazy part is I remember the first time I heard it. When Pharrell was giving me that ‘Holla Back’ hook, I was unsure about it. I was coming off of the mixtapes and a whole harder style…more edgier. Even when that record was released and everyone was telling me that they loved it, I always thought, ‘Wow, this hook is really cheesy.’ But Pharrell was like, ‘No…trust me…it’s going to be infectious. ‘Holla Back’ is going to stick.’ And it did exactly what he said. I still have people coming up to me this day screaming, ‘Holla back, whoo-whoo.’
I looked at going platinum on my debut album as a symbol of success for me beyond the sales. Like I said, I really was trying to make that transition from just being heard on the mixtapes to being accepted as somebody the fans was going to hear on radio or see on MTV and BET. Going platinum solidified all that and made me feel that I was in the place I needed to be. People were actually willing to support me. That’s what I took from that whole experience.”