Quality Over Quantity: A Chat With Cool (of Cool & Dre)
When it comes to Cool & Dre, the production duo represents quality over quantity. Their discography dates back to 2001 with Fat Joe, and has since included some of the best names in the industry, including Lil Wayne, The Game, DJ Khaled, Wale, and countless more. They’ve had hit singles like “Hate It Or Love It” and “New York.” Quality is something that Cool wanted to relay throughout our conversation without even having to use the word.
One of the best examples of that is Dre’s forgotten solo album. In 2006, “Chevy Ridin’ High,” featuring Rick Ross, was becoming a slow burning hit. The remix, which featured Pusha T, The Game, Fat Joe and Dirt Bag, added more fuel to the fire. The album was in fact done. However, Jive being more known for their R&B acts didn’t understand the dynamic of pushing a hip-hop artist like Dre.
So what happened?
“We just felt like we ain’t want to take an L,” Cool explains. “We didn’t want to just put an album out just because…people were asking to put one out. The setup wasn’t in place for us to have a release that would have the right numbers.”
I ask him if the timing will ever be right, but Cool says that Dre is kind of past that point in his career. “People still be trying to get him to put music out. You might catch him on a verse here and there. I’ve been trying, [Lil] Wayne been trying, everybody tries.”
A question I’ve always enjoyed asking producers is about who passed on a beat that went on to be a hit? For someone like Cool, I was expecting a couple good stories, but what I got was greater than I ever expected. He told me how Sylvenna Johnson passed on “Hate It Or Love It,” which he’s thankful for because Game and 50 Cent ended up grossing millions and millions off that single.
The other story was Ja Rule’s “New York” featuring Jadakiss and Fat Joe. It might be one of the only hits in history to have been centered around the three artists from the start. Jadakiss got the beat first from Cool, while Dre had, unbeknownst to Cool, gave it over to Fat Joe. Long story short, both of the artists slept on recording to it.
Cool was in the studio with Dre trying to work on the hook when he sang KRS-One’s “100 Guns” hook. Ja Rule came down to the Hit Factory in Miami, Dre sang the hook and Ja loved it. The duo talked to Fat Joe who said to sell the record because he couldn’t catch the flow. “You know who I can hear on this?” Ja asked the two. “Fat Joe and Jadakiss.” And history was made.
With such an extraordinary career spanning over a decade already, and with no plans to stop, what is the legacy of Cool & Dre? “When people listen back to our music,” he pauses to think. “not only that it touched them and took them to a transition in their life, but when they hear our music they’ll be like, ‘yo, Cool & Dre always stood for quality over quantity.”
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