INTERVIEW: DJ Clue Shares Intimate Details About Working With Fabolous

By Isha Thorpe

December 1, 2016

For over 20 years, Brooklyn-born hip hop artist Fabolous has been one of the rap game’s most respected MCs. Consistently releasing one #1 album and mixtape after the other, fans of hip hop have continued to love Fab ever since we heard his first bar on the radio. But, don’t get it twisted -- this is all thanks to DJ Clue

Also a vet in hip hop, Clue has produced some of the biggest rap tracks, for countless other MCs, that we still bump today, and will go down in that genre of music’s history. But, he also gets props for discovering Fabolous when the rapper (21 years old at the time) left a lasting impression on the top DJ that Clue would never forget.

Blown away by the upcoming rapper after first meeting, Clue signed Fabolous to Desert Storm Records, and after that, it was never the same. Over two decades later, they’re still rocking out, and dropping smash after smash.

Now a DJ on Power 105.1, iHeartRadio spoke to Clue about his experience working with the Brooklyn rapper. During the sit-down; Clue didn’t hold back about what he thought of Fab the first time they met, the Tamia and Ashanti versions of Fab’s “So Into You” sample, accidentally giving Fabolous his name, new music coming from the MC, and more.

Check out DJ Clue’s interview on Fabolous below. 

Describe to me the first time you met Fab. What was your first impression of him?

First time I met Fab was at [another radio station]. I was doing my show. Actually, I was interviewing Noreaga. His managers brought him up, and sent him up there to meet me. He looked like a regular Brooklyn cat. He had an Avirex jacket on at the time. You know, a chipped tooth…Just a regular Brooklyn dude.

How did he get the meeting with you in the first place?

Actually, his managers used to throw parties. They got me to do a couple parties before. Plus we had a couple mutual friends. So [one of Fab’s managers] went to my manager and said they had a kid that could rap. Then, my manager was like, 'Yo, I heard some stuff from this kid. He sounds aight. You should check him out.'

So, Noreaga was there too. Did you plan on him like freestyling for you like with Nore?

No, that was never part of the plan. But, I figured since he was there, I said, I might as well just have him freestyle while he's there.

Fabolous later admitted that he wasn't ready for the freestyle. Could you tell?

If he wasn't ready, he played it off pretty good because he did his thing. He impressed me enough to the point where I could hear that he was talented.

Young DJ Clue and Fabolous Photo

Fab freestyled twice that day. After the second freestyle, was that enough for you to want to sign him? Or were you already ready after the first?

Yeah, after that I called him the next day, and told him [that] I want to hear some more stuff, and sign him, and get to work. The first one was good, but the second one just put the nail on the coffin.

He was the very first artist you signed on Desert Storm. Were you just waiting for someone special?

I just think it was the right situation. I had the outlet and so many people were up on the outlet. So, it was a good time, I figured, to break an artist.

Fab later admitted that when you introduced him, you called him Fabolous Sport, but that wasn't his official name.

No, it wasn't. I just thought his name was really Sport. I thought it sounded unique and catchy. So, I figured that's the name we should run with. He didn't think anything of it. At that point, he was trying to get on, and he was pretty much going by my lead. Whatever I thought was the best move to make, he was with that.

When you signed him and starting working on music. Were there any songs of his that you didn't like at first, but later grew on you?

I feel like he had his own unique style. So there wasn't anything I didn't like. I just felt like people had to adapt to him -- get used to his voice, get used to his style. I figured people would, from there, get attached to him.

DJ Clue and Fabolous Photo

How is Fab's whole demeanor in the studio?

He's a perfectionist. He wants his stuff to sound a certain way. He doesn't want it coming out unless it's right. If he goes into the studio, most of the time, he's almost ready. And then once he gets there, he makes sure we piece it together and makes sure it sounds the right way. It's cool.

One of the songs that you helped produce was his “So Into You” Tamia sample.  There's also another version with Ashanti. Why is that?

I think we were trying to get Tamia first, but I don't think she was willing to at the time we had got Ashanti to do it, and then I had finally found Tamia. Then we figured [out] the remix. Because [Tamia] had a song off the beat, so we said we might as well get her on there and do a remix version…No, I think it was the other way around. I think it was the Ashanti version first and then Tamia.

Last year you also made “Friday Night Freestyles” with Fab. What was the reason for that?

I just feel like there was a void for it, you know what I mean? I just felt like the streets was missing that. So, we just went back, got in the lab and went on that 90's flow.

DJ Clue and Fabolous Photo

Do you guys often talk about like the current state of hip hop? What do you two think about it?

Yeah, we have conversations about that. It's a different day and age, especially with the internet. There's a lot of people coming out with one record here, one record there, and become overnight famous, and then disappear.

I feel like the music business goes on longevity now because before, to get a song on the radio was so hard. Or to get people to hear a song was so hard for them to do. Now, it's like they hear new songs everyday.

Are you guys fans of the sing-rapping nowadays?

It's here. You can't fight it. I feel what Future does, what Drake does, I think [there is] a void for it. People have been doing that for a while. I mean, Ja Rule was doing that.

Fab hasn't reached his peak, yet. He still has a lot of great stuff ahead. So is there any new music that he's now working on?

He's working on the Jason Freddy mixtape with Jadakiss, he's working on an album of his own, and I think he'll be dropping an EP, too. The Jason Freddy project is about halfway done, so you should expect that. That one should be the first one next year.

Photo: Getty Images

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