“New sh*t…(echoes)..DJ Clue (echoes)..Ya’ll Know (echoes).. ”
Like it or not, when those words opened up a mixtape, you knew that you just obtained something exclusive. Something that the rest of the DJ’s didn’t get there hands on yet, and going to school the following day, you were going to tell all your friends about it. Yeah, DJ Clue gave you that feeling. He earned the respect from most artist to break their hits on his mixtapes over the years, and being “the first ni**a” Diddy wanted to kill for leaking one of his Biggie records. It all lead to his major debut The Professional in 1998.
1998 stands as one of the best years in hip hop history. You had Big Pun Capital Punishment , DMX It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, and Jay-Z Vol.2 Hard Knock Life just to name a few, and what do all of those artist have in common? They all showed up on Clue’s The Professional. Now what’s significant about that release is that it was unheard of for a DJ to have a mainstream album and be apart of a major label. The Ruff Ryders were seemingly everywhere, and DMX had the hottest single on the streets with the “Ruff Ryders Anthem.” But the remix to the hit song wasn’t heard until Clue had it featured on his debut, and would mark the arrival of Ruff Ryder’s first lady Eve with an impressive verse.
Clue was also the king of keeping a song mixy. Who else would give you a track that featured Cam’Ron, Big Pun, Noreaga and Canibus? Seemingly, it brought the best out of artist to be tapped for a Clue feature. Oh yeah and who could forget that this album also introduced Fabolous? Known then as Fabolous Sport, I remember thinking when I first heard him that he was rather clever, but sounded too much like Ma$e. It was a risk to feature him, since Ma$e was featured as well on the album, but it worked. Fab went on to become a star in his own right and still credits Clue with giving him the break he needed to take off.
As far as The Professional’s chart performance? It stands as the first album ever from a DJ to go platinum. He followed up two years later with The Professional 2, which was certified gold. But this album for me, was everything. All your favorite artist on one album collaborating with each other was just too exciting. My appreciation for artist collaborating today comes from this. Clue’s influence in music today is evident with DJ Khaled, who is a force in his own right, and has already dropped 6 albums that follow the Clue formula of pitting artist together to make unforgettable music. But 14 years later, The Professional still resonates with me, and I’m grateful. HA HA..(echoes)