On "Behind The Beat," producer Jay E opens up about crafting Nelly's "Country Grammar," "Ride Wit Me," "E.I." and more.
Jay breaks down his origin story, from holding it down at St Louis house parties, to honing his craft during recording studio off hours. Reflecting on simpler times, Jay breaks down how he linked up with Nelly's crew, after the St. Lunatics heard a few of his bangers. As he tells it, Ali made the first move, eventually introducing Jay to Nelly, Murphy, City Spud, and Keyjuan. "We just started growing together as a musical family," he says. Eventually, the partnership led to a musical connection with Nelly, reminiscing on how breakout single "Gimmie What U Got" reached St. Louis ubiquity. "That's when I knew I was going to be a producer."
"The first song we ever did from Country Grammar was "Batter Up," he reveals, claiming that it helped birth Nelly's "singsong lane." He remembers attempting to sell the project to "every record label," only to be shot down repeatedly; all except for one optimistic mind at Universal. "A lot of labels didn't know how to market it, cause it was so new. At that time hip-hop was very lyrical. It wasn't about the sing-songy style," says Jay, before joking that a lot of people should probably lose their jobs over the omission. "How do you pass up on a diamond record?" he laughs.
"Literally, when we were shopping it, "Country Grammar" was done, "Ride Wit Me" was done, "Batter Up" was done," he says. Eventually, he turns to crafting the classic album as we know it. "The main thing I started with was the drums," he says, before playing the soloed percussion of "Country Grammar." Eventually, he moves to the melodic line, citing a preference toward minimalism. Throw in a muted, yet extremely fire bassline, and you're looking at one of the early millennium's timeless classics. Near the end, he even plays a cut section, in which a child delivered the song's iconic chorus.
Shout out to Jay E for this one. Do your homework, and throw on that Country Grammar tape. In the meantime, Jay recently held it down during the Red Bull's Mind Of Jay-E show in St Louis; check that out right here.