I love stories of how hit records get made.
There is a level of commitment and risk required to create breakthrough moments and the best songs of our generation. Below is a story from Chris Anokute’s instagram about the creation of Rihanna’s first single – Pon De Replay.
Chris was clearly ready to “do whatever it takes” – That’s when magic happens.
#TBT – 13 years ago I was a starving manager coincidentally interning at Def Jam Records. I was 22 years old living in West Orange, NJ, and my neighbor Vada Nobles was a hit producer, who was coming off success producing the Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. I was managing an artist/songwriter named Alisha Brooks @mjestie , who I met through my friend @djprincehakim. She was dope! I convinced Vada to give her 40k for a publishing deal so she can focus on writing songs full time. Vada gave me a bunch of instrumentals to give to her. One that stood out was a track titled the “cullada riddim”. I sent the track to Mjestie, and if I can recall “MJ, correct me if I’m wrong”, she free-styled most of the Song smoking a Newport cigarette in her car with me in the passenger seat. We would sit in her car often to listen to music and worktapes of songs she wrote. Alisha’s demo was called “Pon De Replay”. I swore we could get her a single deal for this track. I played it for anyone I knew, but couldn’t get a bite. I had a lawyer, Scott Felcher, who is still my guy till this day, who knew I was managing talent. He told me these producers Sturken & Rogers were developing a new female act by the name of Robyn Fenty, who was his client, and they were developing her demo package at their house studio in Connecticut. He asked me if I had any songs to send for consideration… Fast forward… Mjestie ends up in Connecticut with Robyn to record her voice on “Pon De Replay”. Scott shopped her demos three weeks later, and Island Def Jam signed her to a record deal after she met with Jay Brown and Jay Z. The rest is history!! Happy Anniversary Pon De Replay!! 13 years later and you are the biggest star on the planet @badgalriri !! God is the greatest! And thank you to @mjestiefor changing my life in the process. #youngforever