“I know how the line in Nas’ Ether ‘Eminem murdered you on your own shit,’ that kind of killed the guest verse,” he tells WatchLOUD. “That raised the stakes a lot higher. [But] I always took issue with that because the idea of a guest appearance WAS for that person to kill you on your own shit.”
Watch the video or read the transcript below:
5. deNaun Porter, “Impayshunt”
Album: Stuff In My Backpack
Quote: Disrespect in the streets, a long cry from the days of sex on the beach/
Too through so I got a new boo, to inform you do I send a text or a Tweet?
deNaun reached out to me and originally the beat I cut it to was totally different. He changed it completely from what I cut to. I was like damn that shit is raw. But he’s someone I’ve admired for a long time and he sent it to me and the subject, to me, just spoke to how you can just miss out on your blessing if you don’t let things take their time to come to their fruition. In that sense I think it was about a relationship, but I think it applies to many things. If you don’t give them their proper time to blossom you can get it too early and kind of ruin it.
4. PRhyme “Highs And Lows”
Album: PRhyme Deluxe
Quote: Tigallo the polymath, Raleigh boy, rap game Rolly Forbes/
Never with the same sound, crazy like James Brown on Polydor
Sniffin’ cocaine off of a bodyboard/
Quick to 86 your top five if he not in yours
That was crazy. This was actually while me and Preemo were doing the music for “The Breaks.” He hit me *in Preemo voice* ‘I got this joint with DOOM and Royce.’The thing I liked about it was that the structure was very different, it wasn’t just ’16, hook, 16, hook.’ It was really unorthodox. So DOOM’s lyric he ended on ‘Feet Stank, never leave the beat blank,’ and it just ended, so I had to pick up where he left off. And a lot of the rhymes he used were ones I was thinking of so I really had to go left to find a word to rhyme with where he left off. So I came back with “Masterpiece theatre, we the no limit think tank/
Love to hit the club with my n*gga cause when we drank/He think he a pimp but he can’t see that them three skanks look nothing like Selita Ebanks/ Wake up in the morning like, “Gee, thanks.” I had to turn it around and really slant the line to match what he did. Which was a challenge [but] something I’m always up for. I was honored to be on the record.
3. Kaytranada, “One Too Many”
Quote: Some set the bar, some raise the bar
I’ve passed the bar, lemme get you off
We hooked up on Twitter. I had been up on his remixes and stuff and a fan tweeted I really want to see Phonte and Kaytranada work together and @‘d us. Kaytradana hit back saying word up, we exchanged info and he started sending me a bunch of tracks. This was a minute ago, maybe 2014. A lot of the tracks ended up getting used on his albums, they landed on a bunch of a different projects. Finally a year passed and he sent me a text asking “Are you really gonna do this for my album?” I said I got you, give me 24 hours. I wrote “One Too Many” and sent it to him the next day. I said this vocal is maybe 80 percent but I wanna give you something and do touch ups when I get back, but he said dude this is it.
That was a big record for me because it reintroduced me to another audience, a younger fanbase. Me and Craig David was the old n*ggas on that album [laughs]. We came back to show the young’ns we still got it. Which is odd because you don’t think you’ve been in the game that long. But when I was talking to Kaytranda he was like ‘Yeah I was listening to Little Brother in middle school.’ I was like goddamn, n*gga. Middle School? But shout out to him. Incredibly dope and talented brother. I wish him all the best.
The Roots, “One Time”
“Real rap, no tale spinning, Such is the life of a Kamikaze pilot
We wylin’ out of control, Until we all make the funny papers like Comic-Con”
“Oh my God. That was a bittersweet record. That was the last time I actually saw Rich Nichols, their longtime manager. Rest In Peace Richard Nichols. An incredible person. He reached out to me in 2011. Previously we had done the stuff on How I Got over, “The Day” and “Now Or Never.” So he hit me up ‘It’s album time, verse time, what you got?’ He sent me this one record and it was just a really slow and dark and I was like ‘You sure you want me to do this one? I can write to anything but send me something else.’ Charity Starts At Home was done and this was in the middle of my divorce. I was living in an apartment with no fuckin furniture, on the floor with just my laptop. He sends me the beat and that piano and those drums just spoke to me in that moment. I said Rich, this is the one.
Recording it, people don’t know that Rich was the most meticulous…I’ve worked with a lot of producers and been in the studio with a lot of cats, Rich Nichols was the most labor intensive vocal producer I’ve ever worked with in life. I might have spit that verse like 20 times. He’d say ‘You said ‘Spirit in the SKY’ and I want you to say SPIRIT in the sky…’ It would be so technical. That shit was like Black Belt training in terms of vocal coaching and production. At the time the album told a story and I remember the note he gave me was ‘You’re telling the story, you’re not rapping it. So you have to speak as that character.’ As MCs you really don’t get worked like that. Usually it’s just ‘Gimme 16, gimme 32…’ There’s no focus at all. But with that one they were very, very specific in what they wanted me to do. But he liked it and was ‘We got it.’ That was the last time I worked with him.
Torae, “Clap Shit Up.”
“Cause my rhymes commodities go off like IED’s
Lines go over your head and stay there like the sword of Damocles”
First off, outside from being an incredible MC, Torae is one of the few genuinely good dudes in the business. Head is on good and heart is in the right place. A genuinely good brother. He hit me up around the holidays and he was like can you give me a verse for my record. The deadline is always yesterday. He sent me the joint with his verse on it and it was a long verse, like 32 bars. Since it was during the holidays I wrote it over the course of two days. I would drop like 8 bars, go wash dishes, drop 4, go to sleep, wake up, have breakfast, drop another four or five. Wrap some gifts. I was totally living the washed life while recording that verse. I had to just check it over those days to make sure the thoughts were coherent and stayed in the same line of thought.
When I sent it he was like ‘Really? This is how you feel?’ [laughs]. I know how the line in Nas’ ‘Ether’ ‘Eminem murdered you on your own shit’ how that kind of killed the guest verse. That raised the stakes a lot higher. [But] I always took issue with that because the idea of a guest appearance WAS for that person to kill you on your own shit. Now the new shit at shows is “the bring out,” the idea is for that person to be bigger than you in that moment, because that’s what creates the moment. And I always felt rap records should be the same way. If I’m putting you on my record the idea is to give you an alley, you better slam that shit! It’s not about you outshining me, it’s about us creating this experience. Torae and I did another song—I may use it for my record, I dunno—-it was a Nottz joint. I did the first verse and he came in and hung that shit. I like his verse better than my verse. So if you kill me on my own shit, it’s my album. Why do I care? People are gonna have to buy my album to hear me get killed. I don’t give a shit. Stuff like this is fun to do because it’s like sparring. Two fighters just working to make each other better.
Phonte is currently lending more bars to VH1’s “The Breaks” and putting the finishing touches on his next album No News Is Good News.