“I entered into that creative space again on ‘Step Into A World,’ which was produced by Jesse West. Musically, we were able to explore whatever we wanted to do. We became free men. It was so effortless. This was our sound. But let me say this. We didn’t get a huge backlash in the beginning when Puff Daddy did the remix for ‘Step Into A World’. Because keep in mind…in ’97 Puffy was the shit! People forget how powerful Bad Boy was: Biggie, Craig Mack, 112, Faith, Total, Mase…they were unstoppable. So we didn’t get any backlash in the beginning because Puffy was the undisputed king of rap. And what was so interesting was I was making ‘Step Into A World’ to reclaim hip-hop because nobody wanted to put breakers in their videos. Nobody was standing behind graffiti art anymore. Hip-hop had went where Biggie had taken it, which was still dope. Rappers started wearing suits again! But everybody started to do the same things. And we were all mourning the deaths of Tupac and BIG.
So I went right back again to my formula of talking right to the community to say, ‘You think record sales make you the dopest? No it doesn’t…because I got the no. 1 record in the world!’ That was my campaign. And to go even further with it, I got Puffy to do the remix. I saw him in a club and I asked him if he would remix my shit, and he said, ‘Hell fucking yeah!’ And Puffy did it for free. That should be written down as hip-hop history. He charged Jive whatever the studio time was, but all that $120,000 for remix? We didn’t go through that. And when it came out it was blazing!
But the ‘Step Into A World’ remix backlash came a few months later when I became an executive at Warner Bros. Now we are all executives…we are at the pinnacle of our game. We have taken over the music industry literally. I’m talking about the street hoodlums way back in the days…they were now lead executives in the music industry. And I’m one of those people at Warner Bros. helping run the entire roster. But at this time, Puffy’s productions were getting played so much that it sparked a backlash. People thought Puffy was getting too much radio airplay and he was getting criticized by everybody in hip-hop. They thought that only the records Puffy produced were in regular rotation. So there was this backlash against everything P. Diddy produced. They started questioning why would an artist like myself work with someone like Puffy. But I wasn’t concerned with that because Puffy, in my eyes, showed he was real when he did that remix.”