By now, most people are aware of the YouTube video circulating of Dallas Austin discussing some interesting aspects in the career of Joss Stone. When AllHipHop.com Alternatives interviewed Stone, a very slight part of our discussion included her ill feelings toward Dave Gates and his involvement in her project. Dallas Austins name was mentioned, which according to songwriter/producer (on Dallas Austins team) Novel, fueled the retort of Mr. Austin on video.
However, Novel is also managed by Dave Gates, and was responsible for crafting a considerable number of songs with Joss Stone that he states he wasnt properly compensated for. In this interview, Novel discusses his side of the story. An interestingly ironic fact is that about a decade ago, Lauryn Hill was accused of a similar situation with New-Ark Entertainments Vada Nobles among others and has made a brief comeback by donating a verse on this debated record.
AllHipHop.com: How would you describe what happened?
Novel: We tried to work with [Joss] the best way we could because of the splits and all that. A lot of those songs before I got there were already pre-recorded. Like the song with Lauryn Hill on it [Music] was originally for Stacie Orrico thats another Pop artist I was working on, but we didnt get it in on time. So a lot of the ideas for the songs were done before we got there. We got together, we worked, we vibed. You know, shes cool. Shes a cool person when were vibin, but when it got down to the business [laughs], she got a little tight with it. We tried to work it out with the splits and all that.
What she did was she wanted to go back and re-do everything live with Raphael [Saadiq], which I suggested to her in the first place to work with Raphael. But one day she called me and shes like, Yeah Im in the studio right now. I was like, Great! Youre working with Raph. What songs you doin? Shes like, Im doing your songs. I was like, Oh wow! That was where we had our disagreement. I was like, I didnt know you were just gonna take my tracks and reproduce them and all that. I would work with her on some of it, but I wanted to keep the integrity of the music and you say you want to do something different and you get me to do something with your vibe and add a Hip-Hop element to it, were gonna keep that but when you go back over and do it live its still gonna be the same Joss thing.
Anyway, we tried to work it out, work out the splits and I got tired. When I heard the records, and Ive got mad respect for Raphael, it just didnt sound like the same stuff we had from before. So I was like, Yo, I wasnt there for the session. This came from out of nowhere. Pull the records. Forget the records. Its more important to have the integrity of the music, to keep that, than anything else. So of course she was upset about that. My manager [Dave Gates] was like, Just calm down, well work it out. You did some good writing, so lets try to make the records work. So I dont know what this whole thing about her having a fall-out with manager or my manager yelling at her on the phone like that. That stuff dont exist. I dont even know where she gets this from. I was actually there when she called on the phone. He didnt yell at her, he didnt do none of that stuff. Dave, you know, hes a pretty cool dude. He can get upset, but he didnt get upset with her. He was like, Look, call me back. What happened was she called on a weekend when he was with his family. Shes calling me, shes calling my phone like, I need to work out the splits. I was like, Yo, we just sent you the splits. Shes like, Well I need to work them out again. Let me talk to your manager. Shes like beefing at me on the phone so I just so happened to be by Daves. Dave is like my brother. I chill at his house every now and then, so Im over there and he hears her talking to me on the phone. Hes like, Yo, give me the phone. Hes like, Listen, its the weekend. Im with my family. He manages me, he manages Dallas [Austin]; he runs a label. Like, the dude is real busy so you cant always reach him when you need to. Hes like, On the weekends Im chillin with my family, but send me what you think you need on the splits and well try to work it out. It was Dave that wanted to keep the songs going. It was me that was like, Yo, shes buggin!
We worked it out and she still wasnt happy. We tried to work it out, and that 1%, I dont even know what shes talking about. We tried to work it out [as best as] we could with her. If shes not controlling it, then it makes it difficult. She starts pulling songs, but there were songs she couldnt pull. One has Common on it [Tell Me What We Gonna Do Now]; one has Lauryn Hill on it [Music]. Theyre good songs, and shes a talented person. Like I said, at the end of the day its about the integrity of the record. Would I do another record with her? Probably never in my life. But I wish her the best, I hope the record sells.
AllHipHop.com: Which songs were pulled from the record?
Novel: The songs were I Wish I Never Met You, Real Love I think she was supposed to do Real Love with Aretha Franklin I dont know what happened with that one, and theres another song. I have the songs.
AllHipHop.com: So Stacie Orrico was supposed to have Music but this was before Lauryn Hill got involved?
Novel: Yeah. [Joss] was right about one thing: people did think it was gonna be hard to get Lauryn Hill, but everybody thought it was a great idea. Im not trying to be like woofin on the phone and be all mad at Joss like shes young. Shes only like what 19? Shes just young and for her to do that and talk about Dave, hes like my brother. Its not Dave who doesnt want the records on there. Its me. Daves got nothing to do with it. Its me. We gotta keep the integrity of the music. Lets keep the music how it was or lets work together and work it all out. Raphael, I aint mad at Raphael, hes doing what hes gotta do to make a good record. Thats Raph. Shes just young.
AllHipHop.com: You wrote a lot of the music?
Novel: She did a little bit of writing, but I wrote, produced, arranged, vocal arranged, did backgrounds. This is what happened. Basically, I came there when the project was pretty much wrapped up. She didnt know what to do and she didnt have no direction. So they sent me out there. She was like, Alright, Ill try Novel out, because she kept hearing about us. I came out there and we just really vibed together because she was talented. We ended up doing like eight records. I did a few, I came back home. Went to Atlanta, I did some more. Did some tracks, and then I brought them back, went back out [to Barbados] to work with her again on songs. We did one song where we had a James Brown sample that never got taken. It was called Get Down.
AllHipHop.com: Were you still properly paid for the songs that did make it to the record?
Novel: I was never paid for the songs. I just get my publishing. That was the other issue of the situation. And I didnt care about that. I was like, Yo, lets make the record. Like when I work with an artist, I dont care about money. Like at first we go out there, were like, Lets do it for free. Lets do as many songs as we can and see what makes the record. When I initially talked to her, she was like, All these songs are making the record. As a matter of fact, she has the master versions of the songs that were going on the record.
I dont know what happened. She got mad at Dave or at me and then she starts pulling songs. So she wanted to pull them all; I could tell. But she couldnt. She told yall she pulled them all, but you cant pull one with Lauryn Hill thatd be the dumbest thing ever. You cant do that. Thats not smart on anybody. You cant pull one with Common. Shes smart, but shes young so she talks a lot. I just wanted to clear the air, like Dallas was a little mad because he had nothing to do with it. Shes like, Dave Gates manages Dallas Austin. He had nothing to do with it, so he was like, Yo, what is up with her?
AllHipHop.com: What did you think of the video Dallas put out?
Novel: It was funny. He was just upset, but at the same time Dallas is a real calm person. He can be upset and just be totally like laid back. I think he just had to get some stuff off his chest because like Dave were all brothers. Were like a family, so if you talk about one of us, its like, Yo whats wrong with you? We all get kind of defensive. Dave is like my brother. He practically saved my life. At one point I had nothing, and Dave helped me out. Ive known him for six years. Once she said Dave, everyone was kind of like Yoooo.
AllHipHop.com: With the masters floating around, was it you and anyone else handling the production and writing?
Novel: Yes, please mention Tony Reyes. Hes my writing partner. Its me and Tony Reyes that wrote pretty much the majority of what we did. Now, she has this record with Raphael and they changed some of the songs. Tony Reyes, hes a talented musician. Hes a guitar player and a songwriter. He plays on all my stuff. The thing about it is, as a producer [and songwriter] you gotta take a bullet every now and then. Thats what Dallas and Dave say, because I always complain about splits. I got not production credits, I didnt get paid, so let me at least get whats rightfully mine as a writer in the splits with her. She didnt want to do that, she wanted to take the majority of the songs or split the songs in half, like you didnt really write nothing! I was like, Just give me something here!
As a producer, you gotta take the bullet sometimes. Its a part of the game. Some people had to ghost produce, some people had to do this. I understand that, but theres only so much you can take from one person. She starts talking in interviews and starts s**ttin on everybody. Its wrong. Water under the bridge, I guess.
AllHipHop.com: In your opinion, on Dallass video, I understand he was pretty mad like he was brought in as an innocent bystander. But the things he was saying, about what she does for beats, can you confirm or deny that?
Novel: No comment. Shes a sweet girl; shes a sweet girl.
AllHipHop.com: Oh goodness.
Novel: What [Dallas] said was right in that the thing that happens is when you work with an artist you start to build some type of chemistry. So things happen. Yes, we did have chemistry, we did have a vibe going on, but I dont wanna further elaborate on it. But we did build a chemistry in the studio. We were in Barbados, whatever, were chillin, were writing good songs. When I write with an artist, Im really into getting into their head. Were getting to know each other, were talking; were writing. I was going back and forth to Atlanta then coming back. So yeah we became good friends and built a good chemistry, so thats gonna happen.