One of, if not the best guest verses on André 3000's impressive resume is his contribution to "The Art of Storytellin' Part 4," a single from DJ Drama's 2007 LP, Gangsta Grillz: The Album, featuring OutKast brother-in-rhyme Big Boi and veteran British R&B singer Marsha Ambrosius.
On Wednesday (August 23), Drama shared the genesis of the record—which he says began with an OutKast Gangsta Grillz mixtape that never materialized in 2006—and revealed that Dré only selected Don Cannon's beat after passing up production options from a host of big-name producers.
"Originally, I was supposed to do the OutKast mixtape with Big and Dré around Idlewild time, and we never got the tape done, so the guys got me on the phone with their manager, Blue Williams, at the time, and they said, 'Look, we're not going to be able to get the tape done but how about we do a record for your album?' I was like, 'Sounds good to me, I'm with it,'" said Drama. "I was sending 3000 beats from like Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz, Mannie Fresh, I would just send him a lot of beats—and respect to all those producers—I guess he just hadn't felt [them] at the moment."
In the midst of pitching 3000 beat options for his album, DJ Drama, along with Don Cannon, was arrested in Atlanta as part of a January 2007 police raid that seized more than 80k mixtapes—you know, actual mixtapes with freestyles over industry beats and mixing. In addition to the physical CDs, countless computers and hard drives were confiscated, but safe and sound in his possession was a Cannon-produced beat that was waiting to be blessed by a God amongst men.
"We just got raided, the cops ran up in my studio and took everything," Drama continued. "At the time, I had this beat that [Don] Cannon had made. I called Marsha Ambrosius, I was totally inspired by the raid, and I was like, 'I need something, nothing is going to stop us, I'm here, I'ma keep the movement going' and she returned the hook for 'The Art of Storytellin' Part 4.' I sent the record to 3000—mind you, this was over a seven or eight-month period that I was trying to get him to do a record for my album—and he hit me within 24 hours. At the time, he wasn't doing a lot of records. And the next day, he returned this verse and it was the greatest thing I ever heard... He did the verse, I took it to Stankonia [and] let Big hear it, Big was like, 'Yo this is incredible, we need to call this 'The Art of Storytellin' Part 4.'"
So, to recap: We wouldn't have the fourth installment in arguably the greatest song series in hip-hop history if it weren't for, in order, a canceled OutKast mixtape, the DJ Drama and Don Cannon mixtape raid, a sweet Marsha Ambrosius hook, and a shit ton of patience and persistence.
Unsurprisingly, this is nowhere near the best behind-the-scenes story involving André and the creation of a record. For that, you'd have to press play on UGK's "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)."