Hidden Darts, 2007
I used to work in publicity in the Epic Records “urban” music department many moons ago and…there were a lot less things to recommend that job than you might guess. One good thing was that the head of my two-person department had been around a long time and made her mark working R&B (Luther Vandross, Sade, etc.) and didn’t care that much for “little rappers” and every once in a while, that would work in my favor. The best example of that was when I had to take the top three editors of The Source to a studio for Ghostface to play them some music from Supreme Clientele for consideration for the cover of their magazine.
I (and most people at the label) hadn’t heard any of the music because Ghost wouldn’t let any out for fear of a leak. I also had never really heard music on $10,000 speakers at chest-rattling volumes. The first of two songs I remember clearly from that day was “Nutmeg,” which I think he played first. The Source guys were doing their Source-Guys thing, meaning, enjoying their clout in getting to hear the music and not acting overly interested while we were waiting for Ghost but when he played “Nutmeg” and the flute came in on the first verse (especially the two notes that drop down at :41) they suddenly looked like fans who won a Ghost contest (deep head nods, screwfaced, hands covering open mouths…and I was right along with them).
The other song that stood out from that day was this one, which didn’t make the album. I remember Ghost saying that it wasn’t a sample and that they re-recorded the song (“In The Rain” by The Dramatics, 1972), orchestra and all, which sounded absurd to me at the time. I didn’t realize until I finally heard the song again this week (thanks Jamal) that this was the first instance of Ghost rapping over an entire soul song, including the original vocals. He rhymed over The Delfonics “La-La Means I Love You” in 2004 on “Holla” (which I thought was the first time) and he rhymed over Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Superman Lover” last year on “Supa GFK” but “Wise” dates back to 1999.
So, Ghost got the cover:
But only after some shady dealings (over my head) which included them saying they would only do it if RZA was also in the picture (RZA only produced 2 songs on the album and was uninvolved in the overall crafting of the album). There were also some final negotiations over a lunch with my boss and the Epic marketing person working on the album, which I’m sure included a strategic purchase of advertising space in magazine.
The release of the cd was a complete mess, the info in the booklet didn’t match the info on the tray card and neither matched the music on the CD. This song, listed as “In The Rain” (unless there are two versions, which I doubt) made the booklet; I assume they thought they were going to come to a financial agreement with the publisher and failed to with not enough time to update the booklet.
As you can see, the song was re-recorded in Detroit with The Dramatics (the original singers), The Detroit Symphony and the legendary Dennis Coffey on guitar.
The bittersweet part of my Supreme Clientele experience was that I was listed in the thank you’s:
…right before he says “F— these record companies”
(Oh well…I think it was actually the A&R department that added everyone that worked on the album).
Songs are available for two weeks.