This weekend, several songwriters and musicians linked up to share stories that inspired their art. RZA, Run DMC’s Rev Run, DJ Khaled, Red One and Joel and Benji Madden were selected to be on this year’s panel and each shared personal stories about some of their more successful songs.

When “C.R.E.A.M.” blasted through the speakers at the Key Club venue where BMI held this event, RZA nodded his head to the beat before explaining how the Wu’s debut was an outlet for each member to escape the perils of streets.

“Our refuge would be the studio and my house was the studio,” he shared. “No matter how much trouble we did in the world, we would come together to make songs. [With 1993’s Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers], that was all of my homies from the neighborhood, finding a place to escape from the hells of the neighborhood and we would get together to make songs.”

He also explained the story behind Method Man’s Mary J. Blige-assisted “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By,” a cut Meth originally did not want to do. According to RZA, Meth refused to make the song a single until he was given a car and a Mary J. Blige placement.

“Method Man, at the time, was considered the most hardest emcee in the game,” RZA noted. “He had a song called ‘Bring the Pain.’ He’s 6’4” and in my neighborhood, he would walk around with the biggest gun you’ve ever seen. So, he did not want to be a pretty boy or a type of boy that girls liked, you know what I mean? I remember we did this song in my basement and I kind of forced him to do the song…We had to promise to buy him a new car and get Mary J. Blige to do the hook in order for this to be the single. It turned out this song became maybe a double platinum seller for him. Him and Mary won a Grammy [that] year.”

Other artists on the panel also had personal stories to share. Among other things, DJ Khaled explained stories about his “anthematic” tracks, saying it has sometimes taken him many months to track artists down for songs. He noted that persistence allowed him to succeed and said “no one” would outwork him. 

Rev Run shared that he learned to listen to others when he admitted that he and DMC were originally against their version of “Walk This Way,” a song that became one of their most successful tracks. 

On this day, Red One, a producer who has made hits for Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, also announced that he is working with Nicki Minaj while Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte said they are working on a Hip Hop inspired album to be executive produced by Pharrell Williams

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