The Trackmasters first notable production credit was Kool G Rap’s classic 1992 release, ILL Street Blues/Fuck U Man, and in the early-90s they would work with Pudgee Tha Phat Bastard, both Roxanne Shante and The Real Roxanne, and Big Daddy Kane. They were also involved in a number of Chubb Rock’s projects, including his 1992 album I Gotta Get Mine Yo!, which would also feature Tone rapping. Barnes had pursued a solo career as Red Hot Lover Tone, which began in earnest that year - aided by an appearance (alongside Chubb Rock and a young Nasty Nas) on MC Serch’s 1992 B-side Back To The Grill Again - and culminated in his 1995 album #1 Player. While #1 Player did bless the world with two versions of 4 my peeps, a classic posse cut featuring The Notorious B.I.G., Prince Poetry of Organized Konfusion and M.O.P., it would be the end of Tone’s career as a rapper.
By this point Poke had already begun production on two of Sean “Puffy” Combs’ projects: Mary J. Blige’s Be Happy, and two tracks for Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 debut, Ready to Die, including lead single Juicy. The duo were now creating “official” remixes for Babyface and Michael Jackson, as well as LL Cool J’s 1995 album Mr. Smith, which included the hardcore classic I Shot Ya. In 1996 the Trackmasters produced Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars’ Anthem), featuring men of the hour of B-Real, Coolio, Method Man, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes.
Also in 1996, Poke and Tone produced the majority of Nas’ commercially-successful second album It Was Written, including its hit singles If I Ruled the World (Imagine That) and Street Dreams. This began a collaborative partnership with Nas that would continue with 1997’s The Firm and 1999’s I Am… (Hate Me Now) and Nastradamus, as well as a number of songs that would eventually be released on The Lost Tapes in 2002.
From 1997 to 2002, the Trackmasters produced hits for Will Smith (Men In Black, Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It, Miami), Method Man (Break Ups 2 Make Ups), Noreaga (N.O.R.E.), Destiny’s Child (Independent Women Part I), R. Kelly (Fiesta), Jay-Z (Jigga That Nigga), and Jennifer Lopez (Jenny From the Block). In 1999 they produced the debut release of 50 Cent, How to Rob (An Industry Nigga), initiating the controversy that would be a feature of the rapper’s career.
Poke & Tone began a short-lived production deal with Columbia Records in the late-90s, with acts such as the R&B group Blaque and Firm Rapper Nature signed to their Trackmasters Entertainment imprint. The label also collaborated with Mariah Carey’s shortlived Crave Records on the debut album of girl group Allure.
Samuel “Tone” Barnes (referring to himself as “Tone the Referee”) was the executive producer of the R. Kelly & Jay-Z album Unfinished Business, the second album in the Best of Both Worlds series. He has also been executive producer of R&B singer Yummy Bingham’s album. Together, the Trackmasters produced Rihanna’s 2005 hit If It’s Lovin’ That You Want. The group produced LL Cool J’s album Todd Smith. They are also working on Lil’ Kim’s new album and Foxy Brown’s upcoming album Black Roses.
Edited by Doommagic on 5 Mar 2009, 06:41
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