Naima Cochrane Profile picture
Gen X emissary. Snack aficionado. Storyteller. Industry veteran. Black girl. #MusicSermon. @clivedavisinst. @bma_coalition.

Aug 12, 2018, 76 tweets

Happy Sunday, fam! The *plan* is to do an early-ish sermon today (around 7) to be done in time for #Insecure.
But I’m also gonna be day-drinking, so let’s see what happens!! 🤷🏽‍♀️

#ICYMI, we finished our Director’s series on Monday w/ Hype Williams.…

Aight, I just got home. I need to get settled and organized but we ARE doing a #MusicSermon tonight. I expect to open the doors of the church around 8/8:30, we’ll rock until #InsecureHBO, take an intermission to watch as a family, then finish service.

*Steps into pulpit without robes*
*Adjust mic*
*Clears throat*

Happy Sunday, family.
I’m not ready to get started just yet (there’s alot of content. You’ll understand in a minute). I am, however, gonna break protocol and - for the first time - set the sermon up, then come back.

I’m doing this because just the intro can take some time, and since we’re working around #InsecureHBO tonight, I’ll want to be efficient.

I promised ya’ll the final Superfriends installment after the Directors Series, but the spirit has led me in another direction this week.

The director series reminded me that we have some production teams we still need to cover, and tonight we’re going to talk about the foremost team in hip hop soul and sampled hits, the Bad Boy Hitmen

Now, over the full course of Bad Boy’s run there’ve been more Hit Men than Wu Tang members... even Ye was rumored to have joined the production team for a hot second a few years ago...

But tonight we’re focusing on key members, including some of original line up: D Dot, Ron Lawrence, Stevie J, Nashiem Myrick, Chucky Thompson and Ringo Smith.
(Not all pictured below. This photo’s the 2nd or 3rd iteration of the squad)

A few church announcements for tonight:

1. The Hitmen are a collective, so sometimes two, three, four of them were on the track. I may credit the song to one or two based on who had the "lead role" in the track.

2. We can't go through ALL the BBE hits of the 90s. We just can't. So please don't ask "what about ___?"

3. Also please don't ask me "What about (producer who's not named in the list of producers I already said I'm focusing on)?"
I'm not taking away anyone's skill or discounting their discography, but I am preaching as I'm led.

4. We haven't had a playlist in a long time. There'll be one for this sermon.

Some backstory:
Some of ya'll may know that my first music industry job was working for Combat Jack (Reggie Ossè) when he was still practicing law. He and his partner Ed Woods represented most of the Hitmen roster from at least 97-99. D Dot for his whole career.

The Hitmen are often under-appreciated in classic producer conversations specifically *because* they had a streak of such massive mainstream radio hits. And took hits from the 80s (yeah yeah) and made them sound so crazy (yeah yeah) instead of crate digging for obscure samples.

But if you scratch the surface a bit, you'll find that's not really the case. The producers had their own styles, real musicianship (Stevie, Mario and Chucky all play 5-6 instruments - CHURCH!). And yeah, there was a lot of shiny pop samples but there was some street sh*t, too.

Let's start with the Hitmen co-captains: Deric "D Dot" Angelettie (aka the Mad Rapper) and Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence. They were at Howard with Puff (and Harve Pierre and Mark Pitts) and were a rap duo: Two Kings in a Cipher

Deric had his hand on almost everything the Hitmen did as a collective, acting as a coach and guide for new producers coming into the fold for learning Puff's ear and taste and how to develop that Bad Boy Midas touch.

Together they co-produced some of the label's biggest hits. Songs I almost hate including in another sermon bc they're so ubiquitous.
Like "Hypnotize"

"All About the Benjamin's"...

And "Been Around the World"

But when people call them out on all the glossy poppy ish that feels like they just dropped the needle on the record, Deric will point to some of his other work...

...or stuff he did outside of the Bad Boy system. Puff would get heated if he didn't hear a track that went to someone else first. (But selling it after he refused was no guarantee: "If you played a beat on Monday he wasn't feeling, it didn't mean he wouldn't feel it on Friday"

There was one track D Dot absolutely did not want to touch bc it was *too* on the nose. He thought it should go to Stevie. But Puff insisted he do it.

When Deric finally left the Hitmen, it was bc he & Puff are far apart in music tastes. Ironic, with him as "captain" so long.

Deric was stuck on the song, with Puff sending it back saying it needed to feel lighter and more fun, until he finally brought Kelly Price in to help and she figured out the hook.

But he got to get his sh*t off the way he wanted to sometimes.

Shout out to Carl and Short.

A little known fact: D Dot and Kanye kinda have beef. Ye produced for Crazy Cat (Deric's company) before the Roc. Deric says Ye met Jay and Hip Hop through him, but Ye doesn't acknowledge him.
"As far as his respect factor, his loyalty factor, he sucks."

I have time to get a couple of Ron Lawrence joints off before we break.
So we'll do one *in* the Bad Boy system...

(I think this is my favorite Faith song, besides the "Burning Up" remix)

...and one outside of the Bad Boy system.

I think I'm gonna have to give LL his own sermon eventually, because the HITSSSSS... sheesh.

I'll meet ya'll back here after Insecure, and we'll pick back up with my personal favorite Bad Boy producer.

Annnnnd we're back.

There is one Hitmen member, specifically, who's almost all dark and grimy. He ain't the pop hit dude. And he's my favorite.
Nashiem Myrick.

Nash was one of Big's favorites in the group, probably because he could go dark and gritty.
I mean, this is one of the hardest tracks of all time. PERIOD.

Nashiem could match Big's energy, without losing the Bad Boy energy.

Also, this is Puff at his best ad libs-wise.

It's safe to assume that your favorite really UGLY Big joints...are probably Nash's


Mase, on the other hand, didn't like Nash. Even though he gave him a jam. I think it might have to do with a track Mase wanted him to do that he passed off to Stevie, but we'll get to that.

Even Nash's R&B touch was still hard.
While Bad Boy of the latter 90s was known for shiny suits, remember that Bad Boy production in the beginning helped usher in the marriage of R&B and street sh*t.

Big's close ties to Nash (and his frequent Hitmen tag-team producing partner Carlos Broady) explain why he tapped the two to produce Kim's most Biggie song.

There is one track of Nash's that follows the more traditional mid-late 90s Bad Boy sonics, but that's because it was co-produced with Steebie. But it *sill* has a gritty underbelly to it.

And because I'm also highlighting joints they did outside the confines of Bad Boy, can't leave out this classic.

You got beef... I got beef.

Before we go any further, there's been a lot of speculation over the years abut Puff as an executive producer. Did he just come in and push a button and get EP credit? But a majority of the Hitmen have said on record that Puff has the key element to production: The EAR

Anthony Dent, who was on the team in the late 90s, said early on, Puff was trying to talk to him, told him to turn something down. Dent said "The knob's right there."
Puff's response, "Playboy, I don't know how to work none of this shit in here. I know how to make a hit."

One of the main reasons I wanted to highlight the hitmen is Stevie J. Listen, he ain't sh*t. Ain't never been sh*t. But HE IS TALENTED AS HELL.
Like I said earlier, he plays multiple instruments (church breeding), can write, can sing... Ya'll better respect Steebie.

I kinda suspect that a large amount of Stevie's publishing may be going to Christian Combs LLC, but he had hits, and has the grammy's to prove it.

He co-produced the majority of 112's first album.

(Nash did the remix, BTW. I forgot to include that)

Stevie was good for putting the much needed little extra on something. Add a little live instrumentation on it. Something to make it sexy.

Now, the Mase story.
Mase brings Nash "I'm Comin' Out", has an idea for it. Nash it like "Nah, Stevie's coming in behind me. Let him do it." Stevie works on it, Mase writes to it. Puff hears it, says "This is fire. This is going on Big's album." Mase doesn't come back for 2 wks.

My personal opinion: Stevie and Puffy are a lot alike. He really moved like another Puff back in the day. I think it both helped them working together...

...and hurt. Similar to Puff, Stevie by his own admission got too full of himself. (No, ya'll, Stevie used to be in the spot with furs and platinum chains drippin' and no shirt on, ever. He was so extra.)

But not before collecting some checks...and trophies.

Before Bad Boy, Stevie was part of Devante's Swing Mob (which I didn't know myself until recently). Post Hitmen, he had the most significant success with two projects...

1. Mariah's Butterfly album...

Stevie co-produced a few songs on the album, and won Grammy #2, I think?

And he co-produced Mariah's tribute to Brenda K Starr, who passed her demo to Tommy Mattola (Mariah was her backup singer).
She looks SO GOOD in this video.

2. Dave Hollister's Ghetto Hymns.

Stevie co-wrote and co-produced on the album, including "My Favorite Girl". I've included this song in MAD SERMONS, because I love it so much. It's so disrespectful but yet Dave is singing it with the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have two more hitmen to cover, and I'll try to get them out before I get tired.
But first, another Mase story... (poor baby)

Mase called dibs on "Money Power Respect", when he heard D Dot working on it. Puff felt like Mase had too many hits on his album, so it went to the Lox. Styles & Kim crafted the hook, and eventually the song came together. D Dot oversaw it as A&R, but it's credited as The Hitmen.

Ok, let's talk about Bad Boy's R&B king, Chucky Thompson

Chucky is one of the original Hitmen and was in the camp from the VERY beginning (also part of the original Howard crew), but I feel like he isn't discussed as much as his counterparts. Or maybe he's more known in R&B circles.

I gotta pause and make sure you've noted how many of his people Puff brought with him from college.
In the words of Issa Rae, don't just focus networking up, NETWORK ACROSS.

Chucky was one of the main producers on the My Life album

...which makes it natural that he was also a primary producer on Faith's debut album.

Siden note...
Most of this music has held up REMARKABLY well.

That's the sign of good production, IMO.

Anyway, back to Chucky and Faith

Chucky didn't just bless the R&B artists, though. Although there was still a good R&B groove...

This is a rap category that should officially be called "The Songs for the Chicks" (which it basically is called in the studio, TBH)

He did also produce a favorite for even serious heads (but, still, a Phil Collins sample...GROOVE)

And finally, the Most Unknown (on purpose) member of the Hitmen, who lowkey produced some of the biggest bangers, Rashad "Ringo" Smith.
I'm using this picture bc yes, that's from the Midnight Marauders cover. Let's use that to set the tone for who this cat is.

I have never in my LIFE (and I work IN THIS sh*t) heard anybody be like "Yo, Ringo Smith is dope", and yet, the London native is part of the original Hitmen and had HEAT

Just imagine I'm 1990s Funkmaster Flex dropping bombs right now.

Ringo even made some of your non-Bad Boy faves from this area.

*Makes it hot*

If you're thinking "I don't really see how a DJ/producer who does these joints was affiliated with Tribe in any way"...


Oh, this one, too.

And JUST when maybe you think you have Ringo's style kinda figured out... He hits you with the shiny glossy joint (although this is the jam of jams).

So the lesson here guys, is that the Hitmen were not a sonic monolith (and that's probably improper usage of "monolith", but I'm going for it). That Bad Boy run from 96-98 was PHENOMENAL, but there was more before, and there was other stuff during.
Also, these guys are dope.

And now, if all hearts and minds are FULL.


And now unto music that is able to keep you lifted when you're falling, be vibes, joy, and nostalgia. Now, henceforth and forever more.

And all the people said....

As the ushers come forward, if you learned something, were moved by something or just want to support, you can do so at$musicsermon

Also, let’s all lift Auntie Re in prayer. News came during the sermon that she’s not well. We joke about Aretha alot, because she is a CHARACTER, but she’s also one of our greatest living treasures.

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