Welcome to: Unreleased, a new interview series where producers share the full story behind the biggest records we’ve never heard.
With the hundreds of thousands of unreleased tracks sitting on producers’ hard drives, chances are, you’ve never heard your favorite song. It’s likely floating in the ether, or sitting in a file folder under embargo, or sitting on a USB drive lost in transit. But while we may never get the chance to hear the music, what we can get is the story…
For our latest installment of Unreleased, I’ll need you to imagine Rick Ross on a game show. If that sounds like a luxe dream come true, that’s because it already happened; we’ll just never hear it. This mythical record, entitled “Carson For Dope Boys,” was recorded during Ross' Rather You Than Me studio sessions. As legendary producer and father of the soul beat, Bink!, tells us, the track was a sonic and thematic nod to classic game and variety shows.
“You remember the whole Johnny Carson Show?” Bink! asks. “It was an imaginative Johnny Carson with dope boys on the show. That’s what the whole song was about.”
Bink! would later add a horns section to fit the song's theme, as well as a percussion and bass line to maintain its street edge. “It brought it right home,” he says. “It sounds like a game show—the horns give it that game show feel.”
As it turns out, “Carson For Dope Boys” is only one of a handful of tracks Bink! and Ross cooked up together during Bink!’s month-long stay in Atlanta to help craft Rather You Than Me. While he remains unsure if the track will ever see the light of day, Bink! intends to replay the song for Ross sometime in the near future in hopes of jogging his memory.
Rick, consider this your wake-up call.
DJBooth’s full interview with Bink!, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
Starting with the basics, who’s on the record, did it ever have an official title, when was it recorded, was it done in-studio, and was it for any specific projects?
It’s a Rick Ross record, for the Rather You Than Me album, and the title was “Carson For Dope Boys.” Meaning, you remember the whole Johnny Carson Show? It was an imaginative Johnny Carson with dope boys on the show. That’s what the whole song was about. It was just me and Ross. It was something I did for him once I got out to Atlanta with him. The only record I brought with me was “Santorini Greece.” The other ones, I did all of them custom-made for him. I stayed with Ross at his house for about a month and a half, and we did nine records, actually. Only put three on the album.
Why did the record never come out?
You know, it was just rapper reasons [laughs]. That’s it. It was just another good record that we did, and I guess he felt like he didn’t wanna bring that out just yet, or on that particular project.
“Just yet.” Does that mean there’s a chance?
I mean, who knows? You could never tell. I don’t think any producer can gauge how a rapper’s gonna think or which way he’s gonna sway. Someday I’m gonna play it again for him to remind him about it.
Having worked with Ross for over a decade, how was the energy in the studio during that session?
We always have great energy working. It’s always dope when you got two people that’s good at what they do, it just makes each other’s job that much easier. It’s always a pleasure working with Ross because he’s such a master craftsman at what he does. It just makes me work that much less. My whole job is just making sure I bring the right music to him. The rest is history.
If you had to sum up the sound of the beat in a single sentence…
Since it’s “Carson For Dope Boys,” I did some horns up there that sounds like the introduction to the Jay Leno Show or the Johnny Carson Show, or it really reminds me of the old Carol Burnett Show. Big band type horns, really blaring brass section, it’s crazy! But I thugged it out, put some more urban type drums on it, some bass. It brought it right home. It sounds like a game show—the horns give it that game show feel.
Would you consider re-shopping the beat?
Just depends on who it is, because everything is for everybody. Like I said, I tailor-made that for Ross and I can’t really imagine too many other people on it. Sometimes I’ll hold a record for a long time until it gets to the right home. The “Santorini Greece” beat was like four years old. I originally did it for Ross, and he didn’t hear it the first time, and I held it until I got back with him. I tried to cut it with a couple other people, but they didn’t do it justice. When we got back together, I played it for him and the rest of history.
Could you give me a sense of the volume of unreleased material you have?
I don’t really have a plethora of unreleased records, but I have a shitload of unreleased beats. A lot of times, when you give artists music, most of the time they don’t send the record back. So you just have the beat and then they have the song. That’s how it usually plays out unless you working close-quarters with somebody and you have a relationship like I have with Ross. I have a copy of everything we’ve done.
Do you ever get antsy waiting to see if a record will drop?
I mean, of course. I think we’re all passionate about what we do, and you’re more passionate about certain pieces of work you’ve done because of what it took to get it there and how it makes you feel. Sometimes you’re sitting in the wings like, “I hope he picks this particular record.”
Does that anxiety ever affect how you create?
When I’m working with somebody, in particular, I always have their best interest at hand without being cliché. A lot of producers just go by an artist’s last album and basically try to give them that same vibe again. That’s something that I would never do. That’s what’s wrong with the music industry today: so many people jump on a wave so fast without giving their own taste a chance to shine and do something innovative.
Sonny Digital tweeted something like that earlier this month.
You got the kids using the same sample packs and the exact same snares. I’ve never used the same drums twice! That’s a big deal when you talking to other producers because they’re just so content with just using the same shit over and over again. It’s just lazy to me.
In a 2017 interview with Genius, you said being underrated was the story of your career. Do you have a track in the chamber that could rewrite that story?
The reason why I said that is because there are not many producers, you could count them on your hands without using all the fingers, who actually came with something different that was refreshing. That’s something that I’ve done, and it has influenced a whole genre of music. My style of music has become the definition of a soul beat. What I did on The Blueprint is like the blueprint of most of these guys’ style, it’s insane. But they don’t give me credit for them sounding the way they sound.
That’s why I tell my producers that I have signed to me, “Listen, any vibe that you hear in the industry derives from a certain person.” You just can’t take a vibe and call it your own because you programmed it.
With that, if this Ross song were to come out tomorrow, would you make any changes to bring it up to speed?
Oh, absolutely! None of my music is ever finished. For instance, with “Santorini Greece,” I didn’t add the saxophone in the hook until the day I mixed it. Shout out to Eric Hall, too, he played the saxophone up. That was day-of. I’m always thinking and trying to make the record better, all the time.