Terrace Martin, thinking of a master plan.
He kept a lot of stuff to himself–the completeness of the project–until it was all fleshed out. That’s what really impressed me when I heard the final copy. I work with a lot of people, and they’ll often tell you the whole concept when you’re in the whole studio with them. They’ll say: It’s going to be This–and tell you their whole vision. He wasn’t like that. For me, it was song to song. I would ask him, you know: “I know this is going to be some epic movie shit,” but he wouldn’t tell me. He just said “I’m still working on it.”
The way it happened that I got on like seven songs on the album is because of one song, “For Free.” The funny thing about that story was I was in L.A. recording my record at Capital Records, my trio album (I did a live trio album in December). Terrace called me, he knew I was in town, and he said “After your session can you come over to the studio with me and Kendrick? We’re doing some shit and I want you to play on this joint.”
Everyone knows in the jazz world that I stopped doing regular swing a long time ago, my shit’s kind of hip-hop influenced, whether I’m playing jazz or something else. So in a way I was getting away from that, but then I go to the most anticipated hip-hop session, and that’s the first thing I fucking do. It was all swing! From the first “This dick ain’t freeeeeee!”
I did that song there and Kendrick was like “Oh, shit!” when he heard me warming up. Kendrick was so impressed that he was like “Yo, pull up this, pull up that,” and asked me “Play what you hear on that?” And so I’d listen to it one time and then say “Hit record,” and just play. And I did that for nine songs in a row. One sitting. He’d pull up a track, and I’d listen. Maybe I’d ask them to play it again, but then we’d just hit record.
That’s literally how I got on those joints like that. I was there at the studio to do one song, and it ended up as all of those songs.TRENDING VIDEOS
The first thing [Kendrick and I ever] recorded was a song that me, him and Jay Rock did in 2005 or 2006 called “I’mma Call My Mama” and it leaked somehow. This sound was way before we developed ourselves now. This was a whole different “us,” but that was the first one. Then after that it was just–shit you’ve asked about a long time ago and I’ve been trying to block that out.
My first impression of Kendrick was actually–he reminded me a lot of Kurupt. I grew up under Snoop’s leadership and the Dogg Pound and that whole situation. As a young guy, he reminded me a lot of Kurupt and Kurupt is my favorite MC in the world. So anybody that touches that umbrella, and him being from the West Coast and Compton–I was automatically drawn to him because he sounded like something so familiar and yet so new, because he had so much energy to him.