We came together through an Arista exec and great friend of mine, Larry Jackson. He said, “We’re gonna put together this Whitney album. You should work on some tracks.” We were like, getting my wife [Alicia Keys] to write and to do the tracks could be legendary. When was the last time that we’d have the chance to do something so epic and amazing with the person that we both love?
We worked on a couple of records. We even had a duet in mind, but the schedule started clashing and the deadlines started coming in. “Million Dollar Bill” was the last record that we cut. I think after her recording all the songs on her album, she wanted to have some fun with something that wasn’t so depressed-sounding. She wanted to feel young. She’d always say, “‘Million Dollar Bill’ makes me smile. I can’t stop playing it. It just makes me want to have fun.” Her and Alicia became like soul mates. It was just amazing watching them feed off of each other. Whitney would call at like four in the morning, and she would get up and speak to her.
The vibe in the studio was more like we was chillin’ with family members. She had this one tendency of imitating Michael Jackson that just had us on the floor. Her spirit was definitely way better than what the media used to always try to portray. It was like, “Where’s the headache? Where’s the problem?” A lot of people can’t take real, you know? And Whitney was just real. Whatever went on behind closed doors, you know, I don’t know about that. But from what I saw, she wasn’t sweatin’ no bullshit.
As told to Monica Herrera