Songs

All I Got To Give feat. Marsha Ambrosius (prod. by YZ)

Written by Wil

LYRICS

Rap Genius

[Verse 1: John Regan]

I’ve been judged all my life
Criticized about decisions I made
Working non-stop with limited breaks
Giving six-figure efforts, earning minimum wage
I can’t sleep – for every blink, there’s a cent to be made
I won’t rest to until the day of my death
The day they lay me in a grave
And I can say that I gave it my best
Nothing less or I made a mistake
I was lying when I said I was ready to be taken away
Not until the clouds are gone, long away from grey
Knowing it won’t rain where my babies stay
Sunshine over my wife, watering my seeds
To raise the plants I laid to make a legacy
I won’t stop until my organs give up, my heart gives out
My throat gets cut, whatever deaths got to pitch out
I’m gonna take it to the full count
The last eight ball at the pool house
And even the corner pocket to point out

[Hook: Marsha Ambrosius]

Sometimes it’s gonna be hard
But we can make it better
Sometimes it don’t work
So we gotta be stronger
You know that I can feel your pain
I know sometimes it’s gonna rain
In this life we live
I’ll give you all I got to give

[Verse 2: John Regan]

Now I know I’m not the only guy dealing with stress
But why do I gotta be the one that’s so familiar with death?
It’s like, I know I ain’t dreaming, but I can’t believe it
Either the grim reaper’s here or the banshees’ screaming
Here to take a star from my movie off of my set
And I’m the film director screaming with the bullhorn, vexed
And I ain’t suicidal, but I’m taking that step to say:
“If you come around again, you’re making me next”
My grandpop passed ’02 without a clue or a sign at all
My family foundation started to fall
And it was hard losing my grams
She nurtured all the roots of this man
You understand, she was the glue to the fam
It crushed my heart in the hospital seeing her cry
Holding my hand telling me that she was scared to die
I couldn’t take it at the wake the straight face she had gave me the shivers
It made me wanna crawl in that coffin with her

[Hook: Marsha Ambrosius]

Sometimes it’s gonna be hard
But we can make it better
Sometimes it don’t work
So we gotta be stronger
You know that I can feel your pain
I know sometimes it’s gonna rain
In this life we live
I’ll give you all I got to give

All I got to give
Is my heart and my love
No I can’t give up
On all of the things that I fear
Still I miss you so
I wish that you were here

[Verse 3: John Regan]

I had a dream to paint the world that I seen
Then, I seen the world I dreamt
I gave it all I got to give
But I still gotta give more
My little girl’s about the only thing I live for
Life ain’t a destination – it’s a journey
So how I made it here to where I am now concerns me

I don’t care where I go
I just care how I get there
And watch the world spin while I sit there

[Hook: Marsha Ambrosius]

Sometimes it’s gonna be hard
But we can make it better
Sometimes it don’t work
So we gotta be stronger
You know that I can feel your pain
I know sometimes it’s gonna rain
In this life we live
I’ll give you all I got to give

CREDITS
Written by: John Regan, Marsha Ambrosius, Yuri Zwadiuk

Performed by: John Regan, Marsha Ambrosius

Produced by: Yuri Zwadiuk

STREAM/DOWNLOAD
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HIPHOPGAME REVIEW

All I Got to Give is my magnum opus. When I look back on everything I’ve ever done in music, this is what sticks out. This is the peak of everything I’ve ever done outside of my family and career. I’m still flabbergasted that I actually pulled this together.

I’ve been a fan of Marsha Ambrosius for nearly a decade. The music that Floetry made was unbelievable to me. But let me go a bit further back in the story.

Marsha Ambrosius: Interview & Performance

On the ORIGINAL Sorry I’m Late – the one John recorded without me and wanted me to help “touch up”, featured a song called All I Got 2 Give. I don’t remember who produced it, but it was dark. It featured a depressing sample. It was supposed to be the closer from the album. The first two verses are very similar to what was on the finished product. It had no hook. We had Yendi record one. Then Meylin. The lyrics to the song were so profound, but I never received much of a response when I played it for my inner circle. That troubled me, because such a well-written song should’t have been overlooked.

All I Got to Give feat. Yendi (Original)

We had the producer send us the samples and I met up with YZ to try and pump some life into the track. We kept the tempo similar but hyped up the drums a bit. Gave it more drive. Laid some vocals. Still nothing.

All I Got to Give (Original YZ Instrumental)

A couple of months earlier, I had sat down with Marsha Ambrosius for an interview. She had signed to Aftermath as a writer and was looking to sign an artist deal and release a solo album. We had a GREAT conversation. I also covered her show at SOBs. I don’t normally like to mix my media side (journalism, interviews, etc.) with the music side, but every great thing that’s ever happened to me came from me “taking a shot”. I emailed her and said that I didn’t want to infringe, but if I was this close to an idol and didn’t at least ask, I’d regret it for the rest of my life. So I asked if there was any way we could ever do a record together.

However, if a song is God to me…”

Her reply was “I really only work on major label projects or albums with budgets. However, if a song is God to me…”

To which, I replied “well, would you give me one chance to create God? Would you allow me to send you one song. If you don’t like it, you don’t even have to reply. I’ll never ask you about it again.” She said sure. So I called YZ and got to work.

Marsha Ambrosius Interview

 

When I work with an artist, I pretty much study their catalog. I re-listened to countless Marsha songs to find that exact perfect lane for her. Wale’s Diary was a big influence.

We shut the studio down for a few days and got working on the beat. Our first iteration was cool, but too happy. We built it around the drums. I wanted break beat type drums that could drive the song, and of course, YZ nailed it. He added the piano. It was catchy, but really upbeat. John’s album was about pain and struggle with just a hint of success. I sat with it for a couple nights and realized that it just wouldn’t fit. So we went back in an Z replayed the piano, adding more emotion. Making it darker, but still hopeful. Now it was starting to feel like a Sorry I’m Late record.

I would rap John’s lyrics off the beat til we got it to a good place. I even laid a few down. Once we got close, I had John record a quick accapella so Z could start building the secondary instruments. When I tell you how talented YZ is. I mean, the guy’s drums rivals anybody’s. He plays about a billion different instruments. He’s just a rare talent.

Anyway, a couple of more days passed and we got everything sounding just right. We then had John drive up to New York to lay some vocals down. We wanted to send her as close to a finished record as possible. So we got his vocals sounding right, and then YZ spent the next several days mixing it. When he mixes – like REALLY mixes – it’s an event. He can spend 10, 15, 25 hours mixing a record to get it right. He hears things that normal people can’t hear.

Once the record was sounding right, I sent it over to Marsha and waited. I got an email back within an hour saying that she LOVED the record and that it sounded amazing! It was an honor. I  thanked her and then left it alone, waiting to hear back.

I waited…

……and waited……..

A month went by and I hand’t heard anything. I kept to my word and didn’t follow up with her, even though I wanted to every day. After the second month, I finally gave up. I was honestly flattered that she even took the time to listen and reply to me. Just knowing that she liked the record we created was something I’d never forget. I needed to start thinking about a Plan B.

I reached out to an artist that Jaiden Roston really respects, Kimberly Nicholles. She was up for doing the hook, but wanted us to write it. Meylin also came in and dropped a pretty dope hook on it. I reached out to Brigette Kelly who was down to do it until she sang with Jay-Z at his Madison Square Garden show. I reached out to Drake affiliate Andreena Mills. Then Lupe singer Sarah Green. The problem was, no matter who sang the hook, I already had Marsha in my head and could’t shake it. But nothing would ever sound right. The song was made SPECIFICALLY for her. Finally, after numerous hook attempts, I decided that we might have to cut the record. I felt that, in terms of lyrics and production, it was one of SIL’s strongest records. But I didn’t want to just drop any hook in there. And the only hook that would’ve worked would be Marsha.

I’m at the W Hotel in Westwood (LA), hanging out by the pool and sipping a Mai Tai (with Ta-Ta down in Nevada, haha papa), when my iPhone rings. The caller ID says “Marsha Ambrosius”. WTF?!? I decided that I should probably pick up this call.

It was her. She tells me that she was in the studio with Just Blaze recording a song and got in a zone and finished up their record. She said she then put on her “songs to write to” playlist and on came the All I Got instrumental. She told me caught such a zone that she wrote AND recorded our record! She said she didn’t even know if it was too late, if the song had already been finished or released, but wanted to tell me she did the hook anyway. She said she could send it to me or we could get together in person. I changed my flight and booked a redeye home so I could meet her in Philly the next day.

I landed at JFK around 8am and scooped up YZ. After a quick breakfast, we drove out to Philly and met Marsha. We picked her up in my truck and she couldn’t wait for us to hear. We played it and were blown away. It was A-MAZ-ING! We played it probably a dozen times. She took us thorough the writing process and repeated how much the song moved her.

Sidebar: Just so you can see how I do business. She said from the beginning that it wasn’t about money. I insisted on paying a rate. I’m not big on favors. Unfortunately, by the time she got back to us, we had spent all the money that we set aside for her on other records, assuming that we weren’t getting a Marsha hook. When she called, we were flat broke.

I explained this to her and she said not to worry about it. Embarrassed, I asked if we could pay her in installments. That was how John paid for the album – by putting money on credit cards, borrowing and paying me money out of his check every two weeks. I told her I’d bring x amount out with me to Philly and offered to let her keep the data til it was all paid off. Based off my reputation and our relationship, she said that wasn’t necessary.

Well, I made sure I had every penny before I got to Philly. She didn’t ask once about the money while we were listening to the song. She met YZ and I with another music friend of hers at a local pub nearby. Before she left, I handed her an envelope. She assumed it was the deposit I promised. I never even mentioned to her that it was the entire amount, paid in full.

See? That’s business. I didn’t do the minimum required. I made sure to handle my business as professionally as possible. You know what that does? That increases my credibility with her. I can now do business with her and she’ll never have a second thought about it. I think big picture not short term. She had already done me a huge favor. I didn’t want money to be another favor.

Anyway – that night, I’m listening to the record. Musically, it sounds great. But quality wise? I started noticing a problem. I was on my way to meet my Year-Up mentee when I texted YZ and asked if he heard what I was hearing. He did. The quality of the recording wasn’t up to par. We discussed all the different possible ways of working around it. A knot formed in my stomach.

I invited Meylin over that night to take a listen. She agreed with me in the quality of the recording. I asked her over and over: did I really have the balls to ask Marsha Fucking Ambrosius to re-record vocals for me?? How ballsy would that be? Who the fuck am I to ask someone of her caliber to redo something?

But at the same time, leaving it alone would go totally against everything I try and stand for. So what did I do? Meylin and I finished off our second bottle of wine and I sent Marsha a text. I’m such a stickler for quality that I just could’t let it go.

She texted me back minutes later saying she was glad that I wasn’t happy with it. She said she wasn’t satisfied either, but if it worked for me, it was fine by her. I had her new studio vocals a day later and they were amazing. And that’s how All I Got to Give was born.

And now, we’re doing a new version of the song. I can’t get into specifics, but it involves a lot of very talented, accomplished producers, artists and engineers. John isn’t performing on this version, but is helping with the production of the record. It’s an Unplugged type version with a lot of instrumentation. The record – and subsequent video – will be sold with ALL the proceeds being donated to a foundation in my mom’s name -(who passed away at 49) to the American Cancer Society. My family has been ravaged by cancer, as have many of the people involved in this project.

All I Got to Give (Instrumental) prod. by YZ

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Wil

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