Published on October 9th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Joe Stone On “Hip Hop Lullabies: Miami Bass Edition,” Amos Larkins II & Henry Stone Music’s Future
Henry Stone was a music industry legend who set up more than 100 record labels. He was instrumental in the careers of James Brown, Ray Charles and KC & The Sunshine Band — to name a few legends — and altogether instrumental in the mainstream expansion of the R&B, disco and hip-hop genres. His namesake company, Henry Stone Music, lives on through his son Joe, while Stone’s legacy itself lives on through the award-winning documentary film The Record Man.
But Joe Stone is no music business slouch himself. L’Trimm, Gucci Crew II and 2 Unlimited are among the artists who Joe Stone helped build careers for. Earlier this year, I was able to track down Joe Stone and schedule an in-depth phone interview with him about the past, present and future of the 2 Live Jews, a comedic hip-hop project I have been a die-hard fan of since the early 1990s.
The latest project from Joe Stone is Hip Hop Lullabies: Miami Bass Edition. Hip-hop versions of your favorite nursery rhymes, the collection was helmed by Stone and influential producer Amos Larkins II. Stone spoke about Hip Hop Lullabies: Miami Bass and more with me in late September 2019.
Is it true that having a kid about a year ago inspired this project?
Joe Stone: Hey Darren, thanks for taking the time to get with me always a pleasure… The new baby girl’s definitely a big part of my inspiration for this project. It was also all the people asking me for interviews about my early career and work in the early years of Miami Bass hip-hop music. I was sitting in my office one day just after one of those interviews and the idea posed into my head — classic nursery rhymes Miami Bass-style, and just like that Hip Hop Lullabies by The Joe Show was set in motion.
Who worked on the project with you to make it a reality?
Joe Stone: At first I needed a list of songs. One of my New York partners, Garret Morris, got me a list of all the classics. Next I started to work up some ideas on my Roland 808 and Casio keyboard — old school gear. (laughs) I had wanted to connect with one of the original fathers of Miami Bass, Amos Larkins, but I did not have any current contact info on him.
About a week later, after not seeing Amos in more than 20 years, I was in the market and I hear this voice behind me a familiar voice. I turned and I see the back of a tall man with a hat on. I paused to listen again paying attention this time and sure as I was standing there I blurt out quite loudly, “AMOS LARKINS!” The man turned and it was him. He took one second and said, “SHIT! Joe Stone!” and threw his arms around me with a big bear hug. We had worked very closely in the recording studio in our early years in the business circa 1985. From there I just mentioned the concept. Within 5 words into the description, Amos interrupted me and said, “I’m In, you always did have great ideas.” As you can hear, Amos crushed it on the tracks.
Then I got busy writing the new lyrics and new melody parts. I was also really lucky to meet up with and present for his debut hip-hop recording Jeff Somerstein’s rap persona MC Somerstein. He is featured on several tracks rocking the backup and calls. Next up my main man Steve Johnston at Outpost Audio, he recorded the vocals on me in his place up tairs at Accord Productions Miami. Then I got my boyeee Aaron Fishbine at Franchise Studios to put his magic sauce on the tracks with his excellent mixing skills; he recently made the move to Nashville. I miss having bagels and lox with Aaron. It was a weekly tradition, and yes, he had the lox and they always asked hm twice and reminded him that the lox is the salty one — me, I always go with the Nova.
Our mastering man Mike Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studio in New York put the final touch on the album, and my brother in production for over thirty years Matt Leone did all the animation for the YouTube videos for every single song. Honestly I don’t know how he does it, he’s like a wizard.
Which song did you record first?
Joe Stone: I cut vocals on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” first.
Which song was the most challenging to record?
Joe Stone: That’s a great question. But I have to say as I sit here and think about it, that all of the songs flowed. It was one of those projects it all came together and just flowed through me with ease. I really did not struggle with any parts of this project. I always feel honored to work with talented people on good vibe projects, and this one was just that — good vibes and easy flow with great people.
Was Henry Stone himself a fan of any of these songs?
Joe Stone: Honestly, I’m not sure. I know Henry was a fan of good ideas becoming a real thing and he was a fan of making music. He brought me many lessons in life and working with Henry Stone for over 30 years was an honor and joy. One of the best ideals he instilled in me as an artist and producer was a quote that I make my mantra: “Finished is always better than perfect.” Words for producers to live by, and I’m sure I know that Henry is proud to know that another idea was turned into a real recording for the people of earth and their listing pleasure.
Do you control the publishing on some of the songs? All of them?
Joe Stone: We control publishing on all the songs on this album. As I mentioned, my man Garret Morris in New York made me a list of songs and part of my request for that list was only songs that had become “PD,” public domain. Now the way that works — little lesson in the business of music here — is that with my new arrangements and lyrics and melody parts, they are new works and therefore the publishing belongs 100% to Boogiedown Music (BMI).
Might there be a Volume 2 in this series?
Joe Stone: Well that’s another great question. I have made a list of possible Volume 2 songs. I have not started writing. Honestly we need to see how the people take to this one. It’s tough these days with the hundredths of a penny the artists get paid from streaming to raise the money for a second album. We need fan support and media support — that’s why we love you Darren, always supporting the creative community. Wish we had 100 of you out here! So please listen and tell your friends about Hip Hop Lullabies by The Joe Show, and let’s get enough streams to afford to produce a Volume 2!
What else is coming up for Henry Stone Music?
Joe Stone: We are finishing up another album in the very same style. It’s called Hip Hop Gospel. It’s a collection of spiritual songs all done in the Miami Bass style with a big choir filling up the room with sounds of joy and love. It’s really magical, all the bass and those voices. It’s awesome and I hope this, like all the projects I get behind creatively, will bring a smile to the face of the persons listening. That is what I love the most, making music that make people smile, laugh and feel good.
Any chance of more music from the 2 Live Jews?
Joe Stone: Hmmmm, well ya never know. I overheard Easy Irving and MC Moisha on a phone call the other day kicking around some hip rhymes about their new hips…
Finally, Joe, any last words for the kids?
Joe Stone: Kids, stay true to your dreams. And if that doesn’t work out, get a good plan B. And stream this album and tell your friends to stream it too. Oh yeah, and stay in school.