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Zo! breaks down the makings of all of the tracks on his new album, SunStorm.
Source: Musical Architecture
1. Greater Than the Sun (feat. Phonte)
For those of you who have listened to Little Brother's Getback album, the closing track "When Everything Is New" was initially supposed to be the intro joint for THIS album. After hearing the recorded hook sung by Phonte, Big Pooh requested that he call me and ask that I let the song go to them for their album... I remember answering that "no-brainer-question-of-the-year" before Phonte had even finished what he was gonna say.
Phonte: Ayo man, I'm sittin here with Pooh... he heard the joint and loved it. Wanted to know if we could use it for o......
*end of story* lol
I remember writing the piano piece to this song primarily after messing around on the keys one sunny afternoon - I emphasize the weather because those of us who create know and understand that weather can be reflected within your art. In this piece I can 'hear' and feel the sun that was shining through my blinds that day. Just by the way that the chords moved I felt as though I had definitely found something. After recording the music, it was only right that I call my brovah in crime Phonte to hop on what I thought could be the NEW intro joint. As a matter of fact, the working title for the joint was something like 'Zo_Phonte_Intro 2008.' As usual, he turned it around within a day or two and ironically wrote a song specifically dealing with the sun, which wasn't anything that I suggested.
Once it was recorded and finished, I got an email from him with the song attached that read, "I ain't playin' with these niggas man."
Hell, neither am I....
2. Greatest Weapon Of All-Time (feat. Sy Smith)
I got familiar with the name Sy Smith and her talent via her appearances on Ali Shaheed Muhammad's Shaheedullah and Stereotypes album back in 2004. A couple years later, I was introduced to her via my good friend up in Chicago, Duane Powell. Duane, who used to work at one of my favorite record stores, Dr. Wax Records in Hyde Park, Chicago (now closed.... dammit) was good for picking up the phone and giving me a call at any given time to say, "What's up sir? Uhhh... *Insert name here* is in the store right now and I wanna introduce you." And understanding his good taste in music, it was always someone who I was a fan of. This is the same kat who sold two copies of Freelance to one of the Kaaaings. The late, great Mr. Bernie Mac ......and gave me a call about it right afterward. I mean damn, who does that? So anyway, he had been telling me for months about Sy and how she really enjoyed the Freelance album... And in typical Duane fashion, he called me up one day outta the blue..."What's up sir?... Uhhh... Sy Smith is here in the store, I wanted you to get a chance to talk to her." Bet!! Put her on! She got on the phone and we chopped it up for a short while eventually discussing the fact that we really needed to do some work together - the conversation left me pretty excited and even more motivated to work with her.
I finally met Sy face-to-face at a show she was doing here in D.C. at Bohemian Caverns in March '08 and that's when I truly discovered her... She was murdering her set. Talk about a phenomenal vocal talent and such a genuinely sweet person, which is a rarity in the nignorant and wonderful world of music. We spoke once again about working and exchanged contacts. With her live show in mind, the first thing I sent her was the music for "The Greatest Weapon Of All-Time." I felt as though the music was uplifting and fun - the same feelings I took in from her show. Once she recorded her vocals and sent the song back to me, upon listening I couldn't WAIT to work with her again (and we did a year later in the form of a remade "Crazy You" for the ...just visiting too album). Come to think of it, when I called her after first hearing how she showed no mercy on my song, she was on the phone like, "How do you like the song, is it alright?" Uhhhh..."Alright?!??!" Ole humble ass...