Nas: “When I got the track, I wanted Denise Williams—who is one of my favorite singers—to sing on it. I reached out to her and I was trying to write the song first. I saw R. Kelly becoming more of a hip-hop singer and when I called him, he told me he just did ‘I’m Fucking You Tonight’ with Biggie. I was like, ‘Damn, I wanted to be the first rap dude with an R. Kelly hook.’
“Biggie beat me to it but Biggie’s song didn’t come out yet so I beat Biggie to it because my song actually came out first. It didn’t stop nothing. Biggie’s record was the better record but I still was just happy to see Robert."
Poke: “There was actually two remixes, and what happened was, just to make a more radio friendly version of it and that’s what we did for that particular remix. But there was another underground remix that we made that was even harder than the original.
“When we went out on tour with Chubb Rock—I was Chubb Rock’s DJ and Tone was Chubb Rock’s hypeman—we were on tour with R. Kelly for the 12 Play. So we used to play basketball with R. Kelly everyday for four months.
“So we kind of got to know each other on just a cool-out basis and we would just play basketball, every single day. We used to put the buses in a square and that would be the basketball court, and we’d just play basketball. So that was how we got to know Rob.
“Then—Barry Hankerson who was managing Timbaland at the time—said to Steve Stoute, who was managing us, 'Rob never works with anybody, ever. But he likes your guys. So lets try to get them in the studio together and see what we can do.' The first that came of that was 'Street Dreams.' We flew to Chicago, Rob did the hook, and it took like 15 minutes.
Steve Stoute: “I was proud of myself. That’s when I knew I could do it as a marketer, as a record executive, as a manager, the whole thing. That’s what my skills culminated.”
Nas: “I saw R. Kelly in a different light. I saw him with chains on and I brought the big chains around him. I called him the R&B thug and he later made a song called ‘R&B Thug.’ That was my man. We got down there and he was cool as ice, he was so easy to work with. He was fast and brilliant and when he jumped on, he had no problem.
“When we shot the video, I talked to some of the street dudes out there in Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini-Green—when it was still standing—two of the roughest neighborhoods in the nation. Hype Williams was crazy as hell so he didn’t mind shooting the video in Cabrini-Green. It made it easy for R.Kelly because he wasn’t the guy you see coming out everywhere so we figured if we were in Chicago, it’d be cool.
“After a while, the street guys said they wanted to see more R. Kelly and they wanted to see him show love. Robert came out, we hung out with the guys in the projects, smoked with them, drank Hennessy with them and shot the videos for the kids in Chicago. It was a beautiful day.”
Poke: "While we were there, Barry and Steve cut a deal like, 'Yo lets get your boys in with Rob to give him some uptempos.' That’s when we went in and did the R. album and 'Fiesta' and all of those records. Then formed a relationship.
"Later, Rob was like, 'Yo I need a rapper on this record.' Since we were cool with Jay-Z, we were like, 'Yo, lets get Jay-Z.' When Jay came to do the rap, that’s how Best of Both Worlds came about. It’s funny how life works and one thing leads to another.”