Ahhh…The Raw Factor. It was the Summer of 1994 and both Fanatic and I were excited about the response of “The Funky One Liner” EP. We knew we were on to something that would take us to another level. By that winter we had offers from several different labels, including Violator/Def Jam. Chris Lighty and I talked for over an hour about what direction I should go with my debut album. His vision was not to change anything we were doing, but to only enhance it with the machine. God bless his soul because later I would realize exactly what his vision was for me. However, it was Vincent Herbert (whom I also consider a visionary when it comes to spotting talent etc. Lady Gaga) that Fanatic and I decided to roll with, based on certain reasons, including a verbal commitment. After being courted and flown to New York, I signed a multi-album deal with Vincent’s new label 3 Boyz from Newark ,which was distributed by Eastwest/Elektra. I just remember thinking “If cats were feelin’ “The Funky One Liner EP”, wait till they hear this new shit!”
Keep in mind, this was the era of a lot of great artists and I saw myself as being able to rip all of them lyrically, if a battle should ever occur. What I didn’t realize was that the game was about to change. Of all the groundbreaking artist of that era, none of us stood parallel to an MC from Bed-Stuy by the name of The Notorious B.I.G. I say this because once Biggie showed that a hardcore rapper could also make songs for the club, the ladies and most importantly the radio?!!....the executives at every label wanted their artists to do their best Biggie impression. Now that’s impact!
I can’t front, it was the most exciting time of my life. Here I was, a country boy from Bear Creek, NC, living in the big city for the first time. It was overwhelming to a degree. Nevertheless, Fanatic, who was my mentor would remind me that we were here for a reason, which was to create music. I remember our first session quite vividly. We recorded a song with an up and coming r-n-b singer Zakar, which turned out really dope. I remember feeling really excited about it, but being somewhat deflated when Vince said that it wasn’t quite what he was looking for. What he was looking for was a bona fide radio hit. Being a Libra, I tend to look at both sides of things. Half of me wanted to keep it raw but the other half wanted to be a star. I felt like, as an MC, I should be able get over any type of track and lace it, as long as I’m feeling the track.
After a few conversations, Fanatic and I decided to switch the sound a bit, provided that the album would include “I’m On Mine”, “Maintain” and several new songs with a raw feel. Our first baby born from the switch was a song called “Touch Y’all”, one of the dopest songs I ever recorded. Though it was sampled from an r-n-b song, the drums and lyrics were still hard. I remember recording “You Got Beef” and feeling like this was the hardest record ever! The title cut “ Raw Factor” is actually the last song we recorded for the project. I remember sitting behind the boards at the Hit Factory with Ben Garrison, asking him to play the song 35 times in a row. The scenery at the Hit Factory was more like a party than a workplace. Equipped with women,drugs and thugs, our sessions gave new birth to the term “The Raw Factor”. With that said, Fanatic and I managed to churn out hardcore joints like ‘Represent” and “Lust For The Papes”, while keeping it smooth on “Was It Just You” and “Keep Giving Me Love”.
Twenty years later, I reflect on the album and laugh because of how much I’ve learned since then. The album title is more about my mentality at the time than anything else. I was an unpolished 21 year old who had no knowledge of the music business. I just wanted get blitzed, hit skins and battle any fool that dared step in the cypher! Thus we have….The Raw Factor.