The song “Ill Figures” was one of the few tracks on Wu-Tang’s Chamber Music that I didn’t have a hand in producing. Out of all the beats on Chamber Music & Wu-Tang’s Legendary Weapons, “Ill Figures” is easily one of the hardest sounding.
The beat for “Ill Figures” was produced by Lil Fame (M.O.P.) & Josh Werner (Revelation’s bass player) during some down time after a Revelations session. Bob Perry (A&R) suggested Josh & Fame start with a bassline as the foundation and build it from there. Josh said when he played the bass part, he was thinking along the lines of Gangstarr’s “Gotta Get Over” from the Trespass soundtrack, something dark & deep sounding. Fame went in after and programmed the drums and then Josh hooked up the Rhodes and added some more sounds on top, completing it.
This beat was one of the few we sent to Raekwon. When we got it back with Rae’s verse, Fame immediately said “This is gonna be me and Billy’s joint”. (Which made sense to me considering the beat reminded me of an old M.O.P. record.) The day Fame recorded his verse, I arrived after he finished recording. Fame had come in rapping right after Rae on top of the breakdown, not leaving any space in between their verses. When I heard it like this, the breakdown was lost under Fame’s verse, and I thought they had taken it out. I asked Fame what happened to the break and he said it was still there. They played it back for me and I felt the track lost something without the break standing out on its own. I told him he really should come in after it. Fame said thats what everybody already told him and he questioned what we should do for a hook. I told him to trust me, that we’d throw some kung fu vocal samples on it and it’d be dope. To convince him, I had to go back home (at the time I was staying 4 blocks from the studio) and get my laptop that had the kung fu samples on it. When I got back we chopped up a couple vocal parts and threw them on top of the breakdown. It sounded great, Fame was happy.
It was still missing something… Since originally Fame had come in rapping right after Rae, there were no adlibs in between their verses. I suggested to Fame “Man, you gotta get back in the booth and do some blucka-blucka-blucka’s or blicka-blicka-bloaaaws before your verse.” Fame laughed and shook his head, but he knew what I meant. He got into the booth and added one of his signature adlibs leading into his verse. The track started to sound more natural, and after listening to it, he turned to me and said “You were right son, you were right”. Billy Danze came later that night and added his verse, completing the M.O.P. part of the track.
With Raekwon & MOP’s parts done, Bob had the idea to send the track to Kool G Rap. We got it back the next day. In less than 24hrs G Rap had crushed it. Listening to it brought me back to the first time I heard “Stick To Your Gunz” and “Legendary Street Team”. G Rap’s word play is nuts on “Ill Figures”. I feel like he just rolled out of bed, ate some broken glass for breakfast and spit that verse like it was nothing. The man is a machine and I was disappointed we didn’t get him on Legendary Weapons.
My remix of “Ill Figures” comes from my Raekwon mixtape “Dope On The Table” coming 12/1/11 exclusively on DjBooth.net. It’s just a nod to one of my favorite Eazy-E records of all time. Originally it had 3 verses from Raekwon on it that his management gave me, but I scrapped that version in favor of having M.O.P. & G Rap on it. Its just a different take on an already bangin’ track. Enjoy.
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