All of our hit songs were not supposed to be hits. Every time we go in the studio and say, “Let’s write a hit song,” it never works. I believe fate is the most powerful thing, and "Got Money" is a prime example. The original beat was from a session in New York, and one of the assistant engineers working there -- he was a new intern -- accidentally kicked over the plug and disconnected the MP3 we were working on. So we lost the original version of “Got Money,” but Skillz, who played the music on it, was like, "I remember the track, I'll come in first thing tomorrow and re-do it." And sure enough, he remade the track to a T! I played it for Pitbull in Miami, and he jumped up and down like, “This song is a hit! I’m going to put T-Pain on it and make it a single.”
But TVT Records at the time didn’t allow Pitbull to put out new music, so we started shopping the song. N.O.R.E., Fat Joe, Plies and Slim Thug all cut the record, but nobody jumped to put it out. Then we get a call from T-Pain’s manager about six weeks before Tha Carter III is about to come out. Somehow the song had gotten back into T-Pain’s hands, and he played it for Lil Wayne, who wanted to cut it. What a blessing that was, because not only did it end up being a single, but radio played it all summer.
“Got Money” introduced the melodic rap style that is so popular now. If you listen to new rappers like Lil Uzi Vert and Trippie Redd, I wouldn’t say they are copying “Got Money,” but they are definitely inspired by it. To have a song that inspired this generation is really big.
Andre "Dre" Lyon of Cool & Dre, producers of “Phone Home”
We met Lil Wayne in Miami shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit, when the Cash Money crew relocated to Miami. A few years before, Wayne had a mixtape where he rapped over a record we did for Fat Joe called "So Much More." He actually said our name on that record, and we were like, "Oh shit!!" He knew who we were! So when he moved to Miami, he was recording at the Hit Factory studio, and once we bumped into each other, we showed love and started getting to the music.
We've been in the fortunate position of witnessing his worth ethic. Wayne lives and sleeps in the studio, so we were always giving him music. Right before he did Tha Carter III, he was working on Da Drought 3 mixtape and did the “Show Me What You Got” freestyle. On that particular record, he said: “We are not the same, I am a martian.” So Cool and I went back to the studio and had this idea like, “Wayne is an alien. He’s not from this world, so we should give him a crazy record.’” It took us about two days to get the song right. I remember we had Tales From the Darkside and Twilight Zone playing on the TV so we could capture that feel. We did the piano intro with one of our keyboard players who's super classically trained -- it sounded like a fucking orchestra, for real. After I laid down the “Phone Home” hook, I went upstairs in the Hit Factory to give it to Wayne like, “This is some other shit.”
Tha Carter III came out when we were in L.A. working on The Game’s album. There were so many great records on it, like "Tie My Hands" and “Got Money,” so when our record came on, I was like “Yo, I hope people like this.” It was so different from everything else. But when he went on tour to support the album, “Phone Home” was the first record that Wayne performed, and it got the biggest reaction. When we went to a show, everyone in the audience went bananas singing “Phone Home.”