I know you want one.
As I was sitting here packaging hundreds more CD singles to send to record pools and DJs, I figured I’d take some time to give the story behind how the biggest song of my career came about.
Back when we started searching for beats for the Fam album, EJ was messing with this producer from Germany named Xplosive Productions. He kept sending over tracks that EJ would then pass to me. I was impressed with his music, and he went on to produce “Alone I Sit,” “No Closure,” “My Piano Weeps,” and “Drunk” for And Then There Was One — earning himself a co-executive producer credit on the EP. But the Fam project was still in its early stages, and we needed the right groove to set it off. One day, EJ played me this new beat Xplosive turned in and said, “This is our single.” It was perfect. When I heard it, I imagined being on vacation with an exotic woman in a tropical paradise. I remember envisioning a cruise ship for the video. In describing the premise I had in mind for the song, I told him: “Think ‘Big Pimpin” without the excessive misogyny.” The setting would be similar, except we’d be there with the special someone we wanted to be there with.
The actual “Dreams Come True” concept came from a love letter I’d recently written. At that time, my career was really picking up, but I told the girl that my biggest dreams still involved her and that I wanted for both of our dreams to come true together (awww). I thought that theme would also be ideal for this new song we were working on. Once we had the beat, the topic, and the title, we started planning the chorus. There was a singer from North Carolina named Jacob that EJ was in talks with, so we decided to give him a shot. We told him what we wanted and let him work his magic. As soon as we heard his vocals over the beat, we knew we had a hit record on our hands. All that was left was our verses.
Mine was easy. The words just came to me, because they were from the heart. I didn’t write a single word down — I just knew exactly what I wanted to say when it was time to record. From a technical standpoint, I’m proud of the fact that I was able to be so lyrically complex without sacrificing accessibility. I think that’s why the song appeals to both mainstream and underground audiences. When was the last time you heard someone rhyme every syllable in the sentence on a pop record?
EJ was still living in Texas at the time, but he flew to New York to get some recording done for the album. He was mad at how effortless my verse seemed. I remember him saying, “Tell me this Jay-Z motherfucker didn’t just do that in one take.” He and I recorded our verses in the same session. Ironically, it was in Timid’s studio but he wasn’t there. Timid didn’t even hear the record until after EJ and I did our parts, and for a while the song existed without him. When we played it for him, all he said was: “Nice.” Inspired by Biggie’s “Who you lovin’, who you wanna be huggin'” line (and possibly a woman in his life), Timid used that as a starting point and completed his verse. Once all the vocals were done, I took everything back to my studio and mixed it all down.
We knew the song had huge potential, but we didn’t want to push it vigorously until the timing was right. For one, it was a summer jam so releasing it in the winter wouldn’t be as effective. And two, the album had to be close to finished so that we could follow up on the buzz. Although we couldn’t resist leaking it to MySpace and performing it at our big shows, we held off on any real promotion for months. Finally, in early July we pulled the trigger. As a result, this past month has been the most successful of any of our careers. “Dreams Come True” has taken on a life of its own, and I feel like not just an accomplished musician, but a proud father as well.
Now if you’ll excuse me, daddy has to stuff some envelopes.