Mixtape Memories with DJ Ron G

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Yes indeed, New York City!!!! We’re back with another Mixtape Memories feature, and this go-around, we’ve got the legendary DJ Ron G on the set. Dubbed the “Youngest in Charge” in high school, Ron G is one of Harlem’s mixtape pioneers, known for his innovative R&B/hip-hop blend tapes that gave birth to what is now commonly known as “the remix,” and also his original production on mixtapes for The Notorious B.I.G., Raekwon, KRS-One, 2Pac, Redman, DMX, and many others. And you may not realize it, but he also produced Fat Joe and R. Kelly’s smash “We Thuggin’,” J. Lo’s chart-topping hit with LL Cool J “All I Have,” Big L and Pac’s posthumous duet “Deadly Combination,” and he even did a joint for the late, great Michael Jackson.

For this edition of Mixtape Memories, we met Ron G halfway at Trackbreakers Studio in Hartford, Connecticut (he now resides in Boston) with our 238 Beats fam to sit down and discuss his storied past, including the DJs that inspired him, the techniques he used to record his early blend tapes, and how he would make money by charging the hustlers for shout outs. He also spoke in detail on a beef he once had with Kid Capri, working with Biggie and DMX before they had their deals, recording with 2Pac the same day he was shot at Quad Studios, Nas dropping his name on Illmatic (“Ron G’s in the cassette deck, rockin’ the shit, G”), producing for the King of Pop, and so much more. Salute.

Early Inspiration

DJ Ron G: “I grew up on 155th Street and 8th Avenue in Harlem. They used to have battle jams across the street in Rucker Park. I used to see DJ Smalls and Wiz Rob battle, one was on one side of the park, one was on the other side of the park. That was my first experience seeing DJs live. I think I was like 16 at that time.

“When I heard Red Alert on 98.7 Kiss [FM], and Marley Marl on 107.5 FM [WBLS], that blew me away. I was listening to Red Alert and how he used to scratch, and I said, ‘Damn, I wanna be a DJ.’ And Marley Marl was a DJ and a producer, and he used to always play Juice Crew and new music like that. And that inspired me and amped me up to want to be a DJ, and go out there and turn the turntables into an instrument.

“[The big songs at that time in New York] were ‘Raw’ by Big Daddy Kane, Eric B. and Rakim ‘Eric B. is President,’ ‘I Got it Made’ by Special Ed, Chubb Rock ‘Treat ‘Em Right.’ [There were] a lot of records at that time that were inspirational, and made me wanna be playing the music in the clubs and on the tapes and all that.”

First DJ Set-Up

“I got my first set-up when I started taking the DJ thing more serious. My step-pops had got me two turntables, and I got my mixer, and I would sit in the crib and practice every day until I felt like I could do the cuts that Red Alert was doing. Once I got them cuts, I said, ‘Okay, I’m a DJ. I’m ready.’ [Laughs.]”

Record Stores

“Back then, I used to get my records at the local record stores on 125th Street. Shout to Spivey Records, I think that was the spot I used to go to. They’re not there no more. And different records stores around the way. Tower Records. If y’all don’t know about Tower Records?! Yeah, those were my spots.”

Influential Mixtape DJs

“I used to listen to Starchild, Lovebug Starski, Brucie B, and Kid Capri. Those were the people that were making cassettes at that time. Either they were from a block party, or from their house. Brucie B was a DJ at Rooftop, so he would record the party live. Kid Capri was more of a self-contained DJ/mixtape guy. He would have you amped up. Starchild was more of the old school classic guy, and Starski was a little older than the rest of them, coming from The Fever days and Russell Simmons days, DJing for those caliber of [events].

“Sometimes you’d just run into the DJ and they’d just give [the tapes] to you or sell them to you. They were in a few [local] stores [that sold mixtapes too]. Not everyone was [familiar with] that world, so you couldn’t just go inside Tower Records and buy a tape. So you had your underground spots that had the cassettes on display.”

First Mixtape/Blends

“My first tape that got around was Mixes 1 [also known as Blends 1]. It had R&B on it like Michael Jackson, because I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan. RIP. Shout out to the family. And I would take loops of different Michael Jackson records and put a beat behind it. Then I’d take another acapella and put it in there. And that concept got me recognition on the mixtape circuit, as well as in the music industry. That helped people recognize me.

“It had some songs on it that hadn’t come out yet. A lot of times, we got test presses before the music came out. Tevin Campbell, Color Me Badd ‘I Wanna Sex You Up,’ different reggae songs, and break beats that I would mess around with.”

Blends

“I heard various DJs [doing blends at that time]. I remember one time, I heard Kid Capri do a blend. I heard E. Bros do a blend. But I wanted to do something a little different. So I’d take the R&B songs that my mom had in her room, which would be Michael Jackson, Lou Rawls, Diana Ross, The Temptations, and I would take those on cassette, put them into my cassette player, play it, turn the bass all the way down, and then play a beat behind it. And people would be like, ‘Ohh!’ That gave [those songs] a little more recognition for the hip-hop crowd. They might not have known Lou Rawls, but when they heard him on that hip-hop beat, that made them look into him, and also me as well.

“In them days, you didn’t have acapellas. Every song [didn’t have an acapella on the single release]. So we had to use whatever creativity we could. We took the bass out, the mids out, and try to keep the vocals in there somehow.”

Breakbeats

“When you go in the record stores, [you’d see these breakbeat records], and they’d have the [song] listings on them, and half of the time, you wouldn’t know what they mean. All you know is, ‘Hip-hop, hip-hop, hip-hop.’ [Laughs.] It’s just the chance you take. You didn’t know what ‘Bust The Break’ means, but at the end of the day, you knew it had beats on it. I would buy the breakbeat [records], put a beat behind [an R&B song], and next thing you know, people were going crazy, like, ‘Oh shit, this is hot!’ Now, you’d probably recognize [the breaks if you heard them because they’ve been used so much]. Shout out to Mark The 45 King!”

Recording

“When I was still learning, I would use four cassette tape decks. I had one to play the cassettes that I had for the records I didn’t have on vinyl. I had two other cassette [decks] to make the copies, and I had another to record from one cassette deck to the other, with the mixer hooked up to the turntables. That way, if I’m playing one song on a cassette deck, and [I had] two turntables [hooked up], I could have the acapella playing, the beat [on one turntable], then I could switch a second beat on the other turntable. And I could mess with the quality of the music because [the cassette] was coming from a whole different source than the mixer. At that time, we had little mixers that didn’t have all that 25 different channel EQ and all that shit on it. It was just Line 1 and Line 2, let’s go. [Laughs.]”

Distribution/Shout Outs

“I would duplicate [the mixtapes myself], and then go to the nearest gas station [to distribute them]. Some guys we would give it to, some [we gave out to] the girls, some we would try to get a dollar or two [for them]. But mainly, it was just about spreading your music, and getting it out there before you even got a dollar out of it. Getting it played in the cars, that was my goal. If I can have ten cars drive by me while I’m outside between 3-6pm [playing my tape], then I’m accomplished. That will help me get a show.

“I can’t remember [the first time I heard someone drive by playing my tape], but I know it was a good feeling. A lot of the hustlers [were] supportive. They’d be like, ‘Yo, make me a tape, man!’ So I’d make them a tape, and they’d show it to their crew and their girls. ‘Yo, Ron said my name, check this out.’ ‘My man in the black BMW with the Porsche kit!’ [Laughs.]

“The shout outs helped make me who I am. I would shout out people that I thought meant something, or people that I wanted to meet. If you [were] 50 Cent, and I wanted to meet you, ‘Big big shout to 50 Cent! Word up!’ [Laughs.] Then when I get to see him, he’ll be like, ‘Yo, you’re that little kid, right?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, what up 50.’ [Laughs.]

“At that time, it was more for fun. My mom was paying the rent, [I was still in high school], and I didn’t have no real worries. It was mainly just get a girl, and you’re a star. You’re fly. It wasn’t really a business approach.

“I went to George Washington High School. [I got the nickname ‘Youngest in Charge’] because I was [the only one] that was short and fat and young with a creative name. I got that [nickname] from the people in the community. When I first started on the radio, I was [still in high school].”

WBLS

“That came after I started making my [mixtapes]. In those days, the cassettes were how you would create your fan base. And because I had created a huge fan base from doing the cassettes with the hip-hop and R&B blends—after the whole blend collection, like Mixes 6 or 7—WBLS, [who was up on the mixtape scene and already had Kid Capri on the air], reached out and was like, ‘We want you on our station.’

“I think my time slot was 8-9 every [night] except for Friday. And Saturday and Sunday I think I had the 9-10 slot. And then Dr. Bob Lee would come on after me, he was like the Quiet Storm guy. I would [do the same stuff as I did on my tapes], the only thing was it would have to be a set playlist. I did interviews, blends, new music. Shout to Rosie Perez, [I had her up on my show for an interview], she was real cool. Mic Geronimo, salute! I helped break his record ‘Shit’s Real.’ I had the No. 1 show in that time slot.”

The Remix

“I did [have a relationship with Puff Daddy at that time]. Him and Andre Harrell would call me down to Uptown Records, and ask me to bring my cassette tapes and stuff like that. I can’t take nothing away from Puff though, he’s brilliant, talented, smart. It’s just that at a young age, I created a sound that was so popular [in] the urban markets, that anything that was coming out that was similar to that sound, you had to have already listened to the format I [created]. I didn’t even know how much I was affecting everybody’s lives and careers. If you wanted to do a new sound without busting your brain, that was the sound to attack. I can’t say someone took my sound, but they took from what I was doing already, and created something similar. And that was called ‘the remix.’ I didn’t call it a remix, I called it a blend. But that’s what it was called when it was reinvented.”

DJing with Three Turntables on Yo! MTV Raps with Kid Capri

“[The three turntables set-up was] similar to the cassette format, with one acapella on one turntable, one beat on another turntable, and another beat [on the third turntable]. In the digital age now, you can cut and splice and all that technical shit. But at that time, you had to know what two beats would go hot with that acapella, it had to be on speed, and you had to hear all three at the same time. So when I would play the acapella, I’d say, ‘Okay, this beat’s coming right into it, and it’s hot.’ Then I could backspin that beat, and cut the next one into it. And it shocked everybody. They [were] like, ‘Oh shit!! Yo!!! This the Youngest in Charge right here!!’ [Laughs.] It was inspiring, but you had to practice and know what you [were] facing. I knew there was gonna be [other] DJs there. I knew Kid Capri was one of the best, so I had to get up there and show and [prove].”

The Hard Pack

“[The Hard Pack] was a bunch of DJs and a bunch of rappers. [Kid Capri], E. Bros. And what we would do, is we would get together every Wednesday. It was The Basement before BET discovered [it]. We would have rappers come from all over the place to get in there and rap, and we would be the DJs [there] to cut it up, and we would record it. It was something for people to have. Rock N Will’s [sold the recordings on cassette]. Those were like their personal mixtapes for what they were doing. It was like a freestyle session, live. It was big, because once it got out, people would come from different states and all over just to rock in front of their peer DJs they loved.”

Beef with Kid Capri

“We had a falling out one time. I normally don’t talk about this stuff too much, but I think it was based on a little bit of jealousy. I used to go to his house, I looked up to him. I had got a call from [this lady] Pat, and she was saying, ‘I want to throw a Kid Capri birthday party. And I want you to DJ.’ Because I was the DJ right behind him. So I was like, ‘Cool.’ Then I called him that night because I wanted to speak to him, like, ‘Yo, this would be dope!’ And he flipped out. ‘Yo, I don’t want no DJ opening up for me. Two headliners can’t [DJ the same party].’ I was like, ‘Kid, if I can open up for Grandmaster Flash, Lovebug Starski, and Starchild, what makes you different?’ [We weren’t really doing parties together at that time, but] when Russell Simmons didn’t have Lovebug Starski doing the Def Comedy Jam [as a substitute for Kid Capri], they would call me. And I think it was just heat right there, somewhere.

“One day, we went up to where they were shooting the scenes for New York Undercover, the TV show. And one of my peoples got into a little situation with Kid Capri, and it escalated from there. It was because we all loved him. ‘We all love you, man. How can you turn into the Tasmanian Devil overnight? Not us.’ That made us sad, and upset with the way he was [behaving].

“A couple months later, we would run into each other, fist fighting. One day I was in M&G’s [Diner on 125th Street] and we had a fist fight. I think the last time we had a real problem was when Big L was alive, RIP. Big L had a party for ‘Put It On,’ and Kid Capri did the hook to that. And Lovebug Starski was there, and we got into a fight there. And Lovebug Starski was like, ‘Y’all are two good DJs. You shouldn’t be doing that.’

“Then I ran into Kid at a car dealer one day, both of us [were] buying a whip. And he’s walking in, and it was like, ‘We’re too old for this shit.’ And we just squashed it from there. And we’ve never had no problems after that.

“I definitely didn’t want to have a problem with him. But sometimes, if there’s lack of communication, it can get out of hand. And we all got our crews and our teams, and that’s when it starts escalating. It was like, ‘Nah, this is just not like him to be acting like this. What’s wrong?’ But after a while, everyone came to their senses, and said, ‘Let that be bygones.’”

Exclusives Game

“As a DJ, I was always creative. I was someone who could take what I got and create a castle with it, whereas some people had to go get the castle and build it over again. I took what I had, and turned it into something [exclusive]. When you have a talent like that, sometimes people misjudge it, because you’re not doing what everybody else is doing. At that time, instead of me playing what was new, I was taking something that was never heard, and making it heard my way, through my talent.

“I think what happened with [DJs] playing [exclusives is] people became nosey. They couldn’t wait until the song came out. People wanted to know who and what song was coming out before it even hit your mixtape. And that’s what kind of changed the format of mixtapes. It was no longer, ‘Let me see what you can bring to the table. Let me watch and understand your craft.’ It was more, ‘I just wanna hear what’s new and what’s hot, and that’s it.’

“If they had the new Fabolous record, or the new Biz Markie record before it came out, it was like, ‘Oh, you the shit!’ But for me, it wasn’t about trying to have something before someone else. I was just trying to show you what I can do with what’s already out there and what you already heard. [But] when the new DJs came in and started to play records ahead of time before it came out, [the fans] got use to that cycle. And that’s when the mixtape circuit changed.”

Original Production/Freestyles

“When you do cassettes from a creative point of view, you gotta know what’s gonna attract the attention of your listeners. So many rappers used to stop by my studio. To come by my crib was like a spot where you’re gonna see the next celebrity you’re gonna like, or you’re gonna be heard incredibly [without having to] go to the record companies. So everybody stopped by my studio, from 2Pac to Biggie to Raekwon to Naughty by Nature to Adina Howard to Loon. The best of the best would stop by my studio like, ‘Yo G, I wanna get on that tape.’ And that’s what helped me transform the blends to artist freestyles and production type stuff.

“One time, Dee and Wah [brought] DMX to my studio, and he didn’t have the deal with Irv Gotti at Def Jam [yet]. They were trying to get him the deal, but he needed to be heard. So they were like, ‘Ron, cook up a beat for us, and let X spit this 16, man.’ And that’s what I would do for them. It was a beat you never heard, and it was like, ‘X, spit that.’ And boom, it’s a Ron G exclusive. That’s how I created my exclusives at that time. I had them come to the crib and do something that wasn’t already out there.”

DMX “What U Gonna Do” (Prod. by DJ Ron G)

Redman “Freestyle” (off DJ Ron G’s Off the Hook)

 

Relationship with Biggie

“B.I.G. was brilliant. He was cool. He would always come to my house, and talk about how he wanted to be rich. Like, ‘Yo, the nigga Puff, he about to sign a nigga, G.’ And was like, ‘Yo, that’s what’s up!’ [Laughs.] To be a part of hip-hop history, and see a person before they become a star, it’s feelings you can not even imagine. And I always had the blessings to see that.

“At first, you might not have known [that B.I.G. was gonna become a star], because his lyrics [were] so dark! Like, ‘Damn, where you be around?! Who the fuck you been talking to?! Where you living, in a cemetery twenty-four hours a day?’ But that was his state of mind. Like, ‘Damn, who gonna keep a shotty in the shower while he’s shitting?!’

“But then, when he got around Puff, he cleaned him up, and he started to see the values of different kinds of music. So at that time, you might not have known what B.I.G. [would become], but you knew that lyrically he was not a joke. His speech was dope. He had a twist of Jamaican in him, speaking that fly slang.”

“Stop the Breaks”

“First, I had KRS-One come up. Then I had Biggie. Then I had Raekwon and Killah [Sin] come up. Then I had an artist from Watts, California named Its Alive [on the song]. Then I [took Its Alive off and gave him shine on another song, and] put O.C. on there, because he was a part of that whole Diamond D [D.I.T.C.] era, and I liked that whole era, too. I was trying to showcase the top rappers at that time that [were] coming, and that [were] already hot.”

The Notorious B.I.G.,Raekwon, Killa Sin, KRS-One, and O.C. “Stop the Breaks” (off Ron G’s It’s On Pt. 2, originally called “Intro”)

Making Money

“I did make money off tapes [during that time period], but it wasn’t money to that degree like the newer DJs. It was mainly the stuff around it [that made me money], from production to doing shows to the popularity. In my first days, you made a few hundred or thousands here or there. It got more [profitable] as years went on, with sponsors and stuff like that. But them days, it was like, you don’t know what you’re gonna come in the house with. You could come in the house with $5 or $5,000.

“What I did used to make money on is the shout outs. A lot of people don’t know. If they wanted a shout out on the cassette, I’d be like, ‘Yo, $200 for that shout out, man.’ That’s how I would double-up. The hustlers wanted to promote what they were doing—their car, their clothes, [and] who they [were] down with.”

Recording with 2Pac the Day of Quad Studios Shooting

“B.I.G. was always coming to my house, and he would always tell me about 2Pac. That was his homie. He was like, ‘Yo, Pac’s letting me open up for him. Why don’t y’all come support me?’ And the club I think we went to was called the Country Club, on 86th Street between 2nd and 3rd. I really was down there to see B.I.G. perform, and I wound up meeting 2Pac. And I was like, ‘Man, ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby,’ and ‘Keep Ya Head Up,’ this kid is dope.’ I was a fat dude wishing I had tattoos, like, ‘Damn, I gotta get skinny.’ Pac was the man. I was fascinated with his image.

“Me and my mans ran up on him and were like, ‘Yo Pac, we’re true fans. Is there any way we can get you on a Ron G tape?’ And he was like, ‘Man, I heard of you through my nigga Biggie!’ At that time, he was from New York, but he was still running in Baltimore and L.A. and all that shit. But he was a fan of what I was doing, and what I was doing for other rappers.

“One day he called my manager like, ‘Yo, I’m in town. Where y’all niggas at?’ [My manager] gave him the address like, ‘Come up.’ Ten minutes later, he knocked on my door. He had four dudes with him—Stretch, and three other dudes I didn’t know. And he was like, ‘Make me a beat, man.’ After a while that was my thing.

“At the time, I was looking at TV, and I was seeing how 2Pac was going through so much drama with the cops, and having problems. And I was like, ‘I want a track with the ambulance going back and forth.’ And I was whispering like, ‘Yo, you got that?’ Like it was a drug sale, letting people know that I got that heat, which was 2Pac.

“And then he came on there like, ‘Follow if you feel me/I think niggas is trying to kill me/picturing pistols, spitting hollow points ‘til they drill me/Keeping it real, and even if I can conceal/My criminal thoughts, preoccupied with keepin’ steel/See niggas is false, sitting in court, turn snitches/They used to be real, now they petrified bitches/I’m trying to be strong, they sending armies out to bomb me/Listen to Ron, the only DJ that can calm me.’ After that, I was like, ‘Whooo!’ And that was the [verse that ended up on the] Big L joint [‘Deadly Combination’ from The Big Picture, which I also produced].

“After that, he was like, ‘Yo yo G, I’m out.’ And I was seeing him on the phone a little bit, but I wasn’t really paying attention because I was trying to mix the beat real quick so he could take it. And at two o’clock in the morning, I was looking at the news, and I seen that he was shot at Quad Studios. And I was [shaken] by that, like, ‘Damn, I hope he know I had nothing to do with that, because I love Pac and the Outlawz.’ It was a crazy time in my life.

“Then two weeks later, I ran into the Outlawz in Jersey, and they were like, ‘Yo, 2Pac know you ain’t got nothing to do with it. Pac sends his love.’ So I was like, ‘Okay,’ and I felt free from that. I wouldn’t hurt my nigga for nothing. I’m a true fan, and I’m as real as I can be, too. It’s a blessing. It made me a part of history, though, in my own unique way. I had police knocking on my door for like three weeks straight, like, ‘Do you know anything?’ I’m like, ‘Nah. I don’t know. I’m just making beats.’

“I put [the 2Pac freestyle] out maybe three weeks after [he got shot], because I was still kind of shook behind that. I was like, ‘Damn, I don’t want people feeling some type of way. Let me wait until I get a response.’ Then once the Outlawz said [everything was okay], I was like, ‘Aiight, cool.’ After that, I knew I was meant for more than just doing beats. I was meant to be a part of this hip-hop history. And that’s when I started saying, ‘Let me do creative things, more than just mixtapes.”

2Pac, Keith Murray, and Its Alive “Representing for Ron G” (originally appeared on Mixes 14) (Prod. by DJ Ron G)

Big L ft. 2Pac “Deadly Combination” (Prod. by DJ Ron G)

 

Nas’ Illmatic Name Drop on “One Time 4 Your Mind”

“‘Ron G’s in the cassette deck, rockin’ the shit G.’ Being a fan of Nas too, when I heard Nas say that, I was like, ‘Damn, Nas listens to my shit, too!?’ It just felt good. Shout out to the homie Nas. After a while, when so many people say your name in songs [like when Biggie said my name on ‘Juicy’], you know you mean something to hip-hop. I felt like this is where I belong, because everybody knows it now. It was always a blessing to me.

“[People knowing my name from Nas’ name drop] happens a lot. Sometimes I gotta remind people, and put the video up on social media when Nas performs it live. It’s always challenging to keep the younger generation aware of what you’re doing. But they do recognize me from that, like, ‘Yo, that’s the kid Nas was talking about! Yo G been in the game, yo!’ It helps.”

Jay Z/Dead Presidents Mixtape

“Dame Dash is from Harlem, I knew [him] for a long time. They were just young brothers trying to come up in the business and create their sound, and get their label going. I remember them reaching out a couple times. For me, it was always fun. I would take the stuff and be like, ‘Aiight!’

“I was working on a tape called Dead Presidents [before I heard Jay Z’s song], because I had seen the movie Dead Presidents. And that was slang for money. So when I made that cassette, I was saying, ‘This is money right here,’ not realizing that Jay Z had come out with a song called ‘Dead Presidents’ too. I was like, ‘Oh, this is perfect!’ That’s when I shouted on the song, ‘Niggas ain’t fuckin’ with this shit right here!’ Everything formatted together. The song was hot, the tape was hot, and he was happy. It was just so perfect.”

Switch From Cassettes to CDs

“When the CD circuit came out, I didn’t know nothing about it. Bootleggers would put it on CD, and I didn’t even know. That’s how it went for me. At that time, I didn’t have none of the equipment to do that, so I didn’t really understand it. I would just do my normal, and the bootleggers would put it on CD. Then I would go to them, and be like, ‘How’d you do this?’ And they’d be like, [in a foreign accent], ‘Ron G, my man Abraham, the best!’ Then I started learning how to transform them over to CD. But my first couple of mixtapes that were on CD weren’t actually from me. They were from bootleggers.

“Once in a while, I would [sell masters to] someone who said they wanted to take the cassette and make their own copies. But I only had two or three people that would do that. The rest were bootleggers. But it wasn’t so much me having my hand in the pot. It was more me making money around [the mixtapes]. That’s how I dealt with it.”

Competition

“My only competition [in my early years] was Kid Capri. Me and [Doo] Wop [were] best friends, and he had a style going at Kid. And I was just going at the whole craft. But I listened to everybody. E. Bros, Kay Slay. I listened to most DJs [as time went on], especially Clue, because he became my competition. I had to listen to what he was coming with so I could top him. But because he was doing exclusives, I couldn’t really top him. I had to stay doing what I was doing. But it was helpful.

“[Clue] got a deal with TDK. While we [were] buying the cassettes, he had got the cassettes free. And they [were] sponsoring him, and probably duplicating for him. He was killing ‘em. That was inspirational for me as a DJ. I was like, ‘Damn, that’s a big step right there. I don’t know how he pulled that off.’ [Laughs.]”

Biggie’s Help Getting Production Equipment

“B.I.G. was asking me to play him some beats [for either his album or for Lil’ Cease and the Junior M.A.F.I.A. album]. And he said he liked two beats that I gave him, and he wanted to use them for himself. He was like, ‘I really want ‘em. Hold ‘em.’ Then after a while, he said, ‘You know what? I’m gonna pay you out of my pocket because I don’t think Puff is gonna purchase the tracks.’ So I said, ‘Okay cool.’ And that [money] kind of helped me get the Trinity and the MPC60. And when I got those two machines, I did ‘We Thuggin’” for Fat Joe [and R. Kelly] and took them platinum.”

“We Thuggin’”

“I was inspired at that time [by] The Neptunes. As producers and DJs, you look up to people. And I was inspired by Pharrell’s sound, like, ‘This sound is just crazy.’ So I wanted to find the latest machines to buy to imitate that sound, and still have my own R&B/hip-hop sound. So I went into Sam Ash and got the Trinity first, and that had some of the sounds that Pharrell was using. And I was like, ‘Alright, let me come up with something similar that’s a banger that I think people are gonna go crazy over.’

“[Fat] Joe was running around looking for beats. I got it to Joe, and Armageddon, and he was like, ‘Yo, this is crazy, G!’ Shout out to Flex and Macho. And I told Joe, ‘Yo, you need to get a singer on it for that hip-hop and R&B feel. Just hip-hop is not enough anymore. Put somebody on it to make it go over the top and make it go to the R&B world.’ Then he reached out to Kells and made it happen, and it was on from there. It was a good feeling to see Joe so happy, and see everybody happy, coming from a DJ point of view.”

Producing for Michael Jackson

“I did the ‘One More Chance (Remix)’ with Michael Jackson. At that time, I was a Sony on-staff producer. Shout to my man Dave McPherson. After working on the J. Lo song ‘All I Have’ with LL [Cool J] and that selling 5 million, they already had confidence in me, like, ‘Yo, he got something special. He got a different sound, but it’s still hard, and it’s still R&B.’ We had a meeting, and they said it was good for me to [remix the song]. R. Kelly liked it, he rewrote some of the lyrics for Mike. And it was just on.

“The only sad thing about it was that Mike was going through a lot of problems with the child [molestation allegations], and they pulled it off the shelves. It was a little bit stressful, but it was an honor. I never met Mike, as sad as it seems. He knew who I [was] and heard me, but I never got a chance to shake his hand and [tell him what a huge fan I was and what an honor it was to produce a record for him]. It’s always a blessing though.”

Michael Jackson “One More Chance (Ron G Club Mix)”

 

What’s Next

“I’m still inspired to [make mixtapes] because I love to help artists and I love music, but I still do need inspiration at times. As a producer, I’m not inspired anymore. I won’t sit here and lie to you—I’m not. I was inspired by [guys like] Dr. Dre—musical genius. And musically, I’m not hearing that. But I still produce. I got four radio shows. And I got the Mix King promotional company, we do online marketing. And I do consulting.

“I’m trying to do a book deal [for the book I’ve been working on about the music business]. I’m looking to do a reality show, so if you wanna see a Ron G reality show, as long I’m not running around doing crazy shit, and it’s in the mixing room and the studio, I’m [with it]. [Laughs.]”

Tune in every Friday night to DJ Ron G Radio at 8-9pm ESTFollow DJ Ron G on Twitter.

Very special thanks to E Joox and DJ Infidel!!

Pics/Audio via DJ Ron G’s Instagram, Discogs, Don’t Get Gassed, XXL, This Is 50, Tape Diggers, Pablo Discobar, and the NahRight/Westcheddar archives.

Previously: Mixtape Memories: 20 Classic LOX Mixtape CutsMixtape Memories: 5 Classic JR Writer Freestyles | Mixtape Memories: 15 Classic Cam’ron Mixtape Cuts | Mixtape Memories with DJ SNS Mixtape Memories: 20 Classic Nas Mixtape Cuts | Mixtape Memories with DJ Whoo Kid (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Whoo Kid (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with Tony Touch | 10 Classic Biggie Smalls Mixtape Cuts | Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Kanye West Freestyles | Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Redman Freestyles