A few years ago, R&B singer/songwriter Robin Thicke found himself living a scene right out of "Dog Day Afternoon" or "Inside Man" — he was smack-dab in the middle of a high-stakes heist.
Fortunately, he got out of the situation unscathed, and he even used the experience as inspiration for the 2002 song "Oh Shooter."
"It's a true story about a bank robbery," Thicke explained on the set of Lil Wayne's "Shooter" video on Sunday. Wayne took the song, which was an album cut from Thicke's debut LP, Cherry Blue Skies (reissued a year later as A Beautiful World), added raps and reincarnated it on his Tha Carter II LP.
"I was actually in a bank when it got robbed when I was 18," Thicke said. "These guys came in with guns and pointed them right at my head and I got on the floor. The whole song is about 'My hands are up, don't shoot! No shooter. No guns.' That's what the song is about: No more guns."
"It was already his song," Wayne elaborated, "I just did my hip-hop remix of it, which Run-DMC did to Aerosmith. I prayed [Thicke would] let me have it, and he did. I always liked his song 'When I Get You Alone.' That made me buy the album — that's poppin'! That's that Beethoven," he said, referring to the sampled bit of the composer's "Symphony No. 5" that appears on the song Thicke sampled, "A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy.
"When I bought the album, I heard 'Oh Shooter,' " Wayne added. "He had too much music playing without singing. I'd always be rapping [to myself]. It was still hot three years later."
Weezy isn't the only hip-hop luminary Thicke has been impressing. Pharrell Williams signed the singer to the Neptunes' label, Star Trak, more than a year ago. The two released the hit single "Wanna Love You Girl" a few months ago (see "Pharrell, Thicke Make A Song Guaranteed To Get Girls Naked").
"Working with Pharrell, you don't want to be the one to f--- it all up," Robin said. "He has so many great records with so many other people, you don't want to be the reason why he didn't make a great record. You feel a little pressure as an artist. Especially for me, since I write and produce my own music. Going in with him, I didn't want to be the buzz kill."
As fate would have it, the Thicke trickle-down effect hit Busta Rhymes too. He was such a fan of "Wanna Love You Girl," he did like Wayne and dropped raps on it for an unofficial street remix. The song got so hot on mixtapes that the remix was made official and Rhymes recently shot a video for the song with Robin. Their collaboration is going to be the next single from Thicke's upcoming The Evolution of Robin Thicke.
"I was in Miami on a chill-out weekend," Busta said a couple of weeks ago on the set of the "Wanna Love You Girl" remix video. "So I go to the club Mansion, we sitting in the club — me and Spliff Star, 'the Street Corner Colonel of Flipmode' — and the Robin Thicke record comes on. Frenzy! They spin the record back two or three times. I'm not understanding it — you don't hear that unless it's a rapper's record.
"About the fifth time, I'm like, 'Get me the instrumental to that record,' " Busta continued. "The next morning, I lay my vocals on it. I called Pharrell right after and said, 'Pharrell, you got this artist named Robin Thicke on Interscope. I'm on Interscope, so we don't have to worry about any clearance issues. I'm gonna send [my version of the track] to you and tell me what you think.' That was all she wrote. The fat lady sang after that."
"We decided an opportunity for me to stand next to Busta Rhymes is not a bad look," Thicke said, literally standing next to Rhymes and Spliff on the video's set.
The Evolution of Robin Thicke is slated to come out in September, and even though the singer came to Star Trak with an album's worth of material, he has since returned to the lab to create more records.
"The album is like all people: We have to pick ourselves up when we fall down," Thicke explained. "Sometimes the tough times are what make us stronger, better people. As much as I don't like falling down, falling down is what made me the man I am right now. I haven't fully evolved yet.
"And there's still a lot of sex, drugs and rock and roll," he added with a giggle. "You'll get your fill of sex, drugs and rock and roll, don't worry."
Both videos are expected to debut in the coming weeks.