Words by Clinton Sparks:
“Everyday I’m hustlin” was the chorus to the biggest hip-hop song down South at the time.
Records from the South didn’t always necessarily impact up North, but the fact that I had a worldwide mixtape audience, a syndicated radio show & was co-owner of the world’s largest mixtape website, (Mixunit.com),it was advantageous for me to know what was hot outside of where I was from and where my radio show was based. I was one of the first to support & play Rick Ross‘s record “Hustlin” on radio & in the clubs in the Northeast, as I had a radio show in Boston, New York, Baltimore & Connecticut. Initially, the audience that listened to my radio stations weren’t into it, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t telling them to “Get Familiar.”
I’ve always been the guy who would play different stuff that wasn’t necessarily fitting for the station. I remember when I first played “Hey Ya” by Outkast and people called up complaining, or when I went in on Gwen Stefani‘s “Holla Back Girl” (even the program Director at my station called me on air to question as to why I would be playing it & told me to stop.) Well, I didn’t stop playing it, and both went on to be massive hits, sort of like the unknown Rick Ross and his “Hustlin” record.
My support did not go unnoticed by Ross or his label at the time, Poe Boy Entertainment & its owner, Eclass. Around this time in Dominican Republic at the Mixshow Power Summit, Ross even testified to my girl that, “Clinton is one of the reasons for my success”…. incidentally I won Radio DJ of the year that night. Awesome.
Anyhow, we stayed in touch over the years. I’ve produced various records with him, from Ludacris’ “Down in the Dirty” featuring Rick Ross and Bun B to “She Crazy” featuring Neyo and Aaliyah.
*Sidenote: I originally produced the record with Neyo for B.I.G.‘s ‘The Final Chapter’ album but unfortunately, it didn’t make it.
We also shot videos together like the “Ciroc Star” record with Diddy, Chester French, Jadakiss & a plethora of celebs, as well as a DJ Khaled video, some random funny videos, annnnnnd we both became official CIROC Boyz (Thanks Puff!)
But just when I really realized how awesome Ross was, he invited me to his house.
One morning in 2010, I landed in Miami to hit the studio w/ Mega Talents Jim Jonsin & Rico Love, but when I landed, I realized I had all day with nothing to do until my night time studio sessions. I recall Ross telling me to hit him next time I was in Miami, so I did. He invited me over, so I jumped in the car and headed to his house.
When I got to Ross’s house, the driveway was like the scene to a music video cluttered with Phantoms and Maybachs. There were so many cars it was hard to get to the front door.
I rang the bell and was greeted by a fellow Bostonian, Masspike Miles who recently signed to Ross’s Maybach Music label. We kick it for a few & and like a true Boss, Ross comes in the room wearing a tank top, sweat pants & a smoker’s robe. #Killer. If I was ever unsure, this entrance reassured that Ross is about that Boss Life. #Legit
He welcomed me to his house. We hung out all day talking about music, life ,family and he even shared a script to a movie he potentially wants to shoot and suggested I participate with doing some writing on it.
The day consisted of everything from shooting hoops in his backyard, to smoking some kush (not me), to rummaging through his refrigerator and making fun of how much fruit punch and snacks were in it. Then it dawned on me… this was the first time we have ever hung out outside of a video shoot, radio show or anything work related and he was just as cool or even cooler than if he had to be cool for political reasons or because a camera or mic was on. It felt like we had been friends since elementary school. We just snapped on each other and hung out. He was very hospitable and generous.
We then proceeded to his in-home recording studio where we listened to some of my beats. He starts writing to one and laid down a verse, then he asked me to do a Maybach Music Mixtape. He cut a gang of drops for it. As he was writing his lyrics, I took it upon myself to run around his house to really see what it’s like to live like a Boss. (You can see what I mean by watching this video HERE)
Ross finished recording his vocals on my first beat, which ends up being a song called “One Life” featuring Fabolous and Rock City. I never released it as it was intended to be, so I guess I’ll reveal it here. I have since used the vocals for other stuff and the beat is old but listen here:
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Then we went to his office. WTF!!!! Ross is a legit toy collector. He had a room from the floor to the ceiling packed with collectible toys from WWF figures, to Marvel & DC, and coincidentally, he had one of his assistants leave to go pick up a rare collectible he had just acquired from a seller. Who knew Ross was a toy collector who was totally down with the “geek culture”?
The more we hung out, the more I saw an even cooler, humble, funny, down to earth guy than what the public knew of Ross. Not to discredit or devalue any of the hood life he raps about, but Ross is simply a COOL ASS MUTHA FU*KA. Like Fonzie cool & nothing was fake about it.
I thought to myself, Ross is one SNL skit away from being a much more widely acknowledged artist to the masses. Somebody from SNL write a “Boss” skit where all the employees are nervous to go into the Boss’s office and then when one goes in to share a report, it’s Ross and his response to everything they say is, “Boss.” By the way, did you see him acting on Magic City?? Nicely done buddy.
Anyhow, I then played him another beat to rock on and told him this song idea I had called, “Big Money” which ended up turning into another song now titled, “Gold Rush.” He loved the beat, wrote to it and laid a verse on it. (You can hear it and see him writing to it in the video above.)
Ultimately, we didn’t end up using that verse for this record. If you’re unfamiliar, watch the official video from my Photo Finish/ Island Def Jam debut single “Gold Rush” Featuring 2 Chainz, Macklemore & DA. Get Familiar with the video HERE.
No worries though, me & Ross will for sure do something together for my album, Disco Ball & Chain. Coming soon.
It was a long day hanging at the Ross compound & I decided I needed to take a nap before I went to my other studio session. I asked Ross if he had a spare bedroom I could catch some Z’s in for a bit and I think I misheard his directions to which room to go crash in because…. Well, I guess you’ll just have to watch the video to see what happened.
Best quote of the day from Ross after listening to my beats. “Man, if Baby heard these beats, he would just buy your laptop right from you.”
Sidenote: neither one of these things happened.
Although, thanks to T.I., I just met with Baby the other day in Boston.
We’ll see… Get Familiar!