Samuel “Tone” Barnes and Jean Claude “Poke” Olivier, THE [original] TRACK MASTERS, are not typical Hip-Hop junkie producers. They do not “keep it real” by concentrating strictly on hard banging beats. Nor do they rely on excessively synthesized violins to create their trademark mystique. Unlike many of their contemporaries, they have secured street credibility while capitalizing on the heavily commercial driven market. Their flavor lies somewhere in the dusty corners of your father’s old record collection and in the most innovated minds that urban America has to offer. Without much thought to their creative equation, THE TRACK MASTERS took the music that they were raised on, dissected and recycled it and presented it as the hottest songs on radio. This has made them responsible for Hip-Hop’s most prominent artists’ most successful jams. Their first introduction is probably the most magical meeting ever in the “Fairy Tale” of rap music.
The story goes that their respective friends submitted their instrumental tapes to a manager in search of tracks for his group. The manager loved their work so much, that he instantly started calling them “my track masters.” The rest as they say is history. And it is history that this duo is known for making, as they were driving forces behind the phenomenal mega return of rap pioneers Will Smith and LL Cool J. They have also literally sprinkled new jacks like Nas, Foxy Brown, Soul For Real, Total, Faith and the late Notorious B.I.G. with stardust, earning them collectively over 7 gold & 20 platinum plaques. Still their love for diversity, has allowed the two to experiment with a variety of projects that further exposed their unique talent. THE TRACK MASTERS have given voices to many artists who dream of becoming more active in their own creative maturation. This is most obvious in their works with R&B divas Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey. As executive producers for Mary’s double-platinum third project, SHARE MY WORLD, they encouraged her to write and become more involved in the recording process. With this endeavor, they achieved a double platinum anthem album for 1997. In Carey’s case, THE TRACK MASTERS emerged from behind their MPC’s and became “THE TRACK MASTERS,” the business men. Along with Steve Stoute, they established TRACK MASTERS ENTERTAINMENT and gave body to Mariah’s dream label, Crave. It was through this collaboration that the platinum-selling group Allure released their debut LP, Head Over Heels in 1997. As executive producer and Vice President of TRACK MASTERS ENTERTAINMENT, Barnes admits “[Poke and I believe that] it’s fulfilling to say that your label discovered and helped develop a brand new group.” Their commitment to both the business and creative sides of the company are obvious as they spend countless hours in the studio and maintain constant communication with the home base office. “From the day we met, Tone & I have hung out just about every day,” reflects Olivier.