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No I.D. Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

Sunday, 25 December 2011


Recognized by many as the Godfather of Chicago hip-hop, No I.D. has had an illustrious career that spans 20 years—and like fine wine, he’s only gotten better with age.

Breaking into the industry in the early ’90s as Common’s in-house producer, No I.D. ascended from underground crate-digger to A-list hitmaker, crafting lush soundscapes for the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, and Rihanna. His talents have taken him in many directions, including a brief career as a rapper, and now as executive vice president of Def Jam.

Before he was known to the world as “Kanye’s mentor,” No I.D. was quietly building his own extensive catalog, lacing beats for everybody from G-Unit and Ghostface Killah to Bow Wow—inlcuding many you may not know he produced. 

The end of 2011 finds No I.D. reuniting with Common for The Dreamer, The Believer, which he produced in its entirety. On the eve of one of the year’s most anticipated releases, Complex caught up with No I.D. These are the stories behind the best beats by Dion.

Killer Mike f/ T.I. “Ready Set Go” (2011)

Album: Pl3dge

Label: Grind Time/SMC/Grand Hustle

No I.D.: “Killer is one of my friends. I worked with him on the Pledge II album, so I made this beat for him. T.I. jumped on it, and that was me and Tip’s introduction to one another—now I’m working with him too. I didn’t even charge for that record. The beat was made in a whole other style that I’d never put out in the world. It didn’t sound like a typical No I.D. beat”

Big Sean f/ Chris Brown “My Last” (2011)

Album: Finally Famous

Label: Def Jam

No I.D.: “That record was actually made for J. Cole during one of his sessions. I told Cole it was going to be a single and he said ‘Nah, I don’t know about that one.’ So I passed it for Sean while he was working on his album, and told him this would be the one, and he said ‘I don’t know about that.’ He thought it sounded too commercial or whatever.

“I told him we needed someone to get on the chorus—maybe get Drake or Kanye on the chorus. But then Sean had a relationship with Chris Brown, and once Chris got on it I knew it was gone. Sean always tells the story about how he fronted on the record, but then when he’s performing the record in front of thousands of people with their hands up in the air, he says ‘Damn, No I.D. was really right about this one.’ [Laughs.]

Read the full article: No I.D. Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records


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