It's been widely reported — mostly because, you know, it's sort of amazing — that, over the last year, Mark Ronson logged a whole lot of time in the studio with mercurial R&B magnate D'Angelo, a man who, for most of the last decade has largely made a career out of, well, not making a career.
The story goes that D, eternally working on the follow-up to his 2000 album Voodoo, heard Ronson's work on Amy Winehouse's Back to Black and decided that he had to work with him. So, naturally, when D'Angelo called, Ronson answered.
But while he was "floored" by the opportunity, Ronson also realized that he could probably get D'Angelo to record some vocals for his album too. And, lo and behold, on Ronson's brand-new Record Collection disc (in stores Tuesday, September 28), D does appear — contributing vocals to a song called "Glass Mountain Trust." It may very well be the guest appearance of the year.
So, obviously, when MTV News sat down with Ronson, we had to ask him what it was like to get in the studio with a legend like D'Angelo. First and foremost, we wondered: Did they replicate the infamous "Untitled (How Does It Feel?)" video and go shirtless?
Why, of course. Though, as Ronson explained, that was more a matter of necessity than anything else.
"Nobody wears shirts in the studio, that's the rule. Especially since we recorded most of the album during [a] heat wave, in Brooklyn, in a studio with no air conditioning," he said. "The only reason we actually got air conditioning is when we found out the tapes were melting and warping. We'd play back the tape from the day before and be like, 'What is that sound?' We had the guy come over to fix the tape machine, and he's like, 'Dude, it's 110 degrees in here, your tapes are melting.' "
In some ways, Ronson even credits the sweltering heat for giving Record Collection such swagger ... after all, you had to be a pretty bad dude (or chick) to lock yourself in his Brooklyn space all day. And on a record that features cameos by everyone from D'Angelo to Boy George (and crackling session work from members of the Dap-Kings and the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra), that's a whole lot of badness. Though, perhaps the toughest of all was someone who doesn't even appear on the record: Mary J. Blige. The R&B queen came out to BK to work with Ronson on a Maroon 5 remix, and proved to pretty much everyone that she was the baddest bitch in the business.
"I have really fond, sweet memories of Mary J. Blige coming over one time, and [she] is at a point in her career where she deserves to be pampered and sit on a bed of fluffy down and be fed grapes in the studio if she wants to," Ronson laughed. "[But she] came to our sweatbox and, to her credit, she was so sweet. She was like, 'See, this reminds me of the old days.' Meanwhile, she was probably thinking, 'Get me the f--- out of here.' "
Are you eager to hear what Mark Ronson and the elusive D'Angelo cooked up in the studio? Let us know in the comments!