The Album (The Firm album)

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The Album
The Firm - The Album.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 21, 1997 (1997-10-21)
RecordedNovember 1996 – August 1997
Nas chronology
It Was Written
The Album
I Am...
Foxy Brown chronology
Ill Na Na
The Album
Chyna Doll
AZ chronology
Doe or Die
The Album
Pieces of a Man
Nature chronology
The Album
For All Seasons
Singles from The Album
  1. "Firm Biz"
    Released: September 24, 1997
  2. "Phone Tap"
    Released: November 11, 1997
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[2]
Los Angeles Daily News1/4 stars [3]
RapReviews(5.0/10) [4]
Rhapsody(mixed) [5]
Robert ChristgauB− [6]
The Source3.5/5 stars [7]
Vibe(mixed) [8]

The Album is the first and only studio album by American hip hop supergroup The Firm. It was released on October 21, 1997 by Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records, Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. The project was created by rapper Nas, his manager Steve Stoute and producers Dr. Dre and Trackmasters, who came up with the idea of forming a hip hop supergroup. The original line-up included Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown and Cormega who were all featured on the song "Affirmative Action" from Nas' album It Was Written (1996). However, Cormega later left the group due artistic differences between him and Nas, as well as contract disagreements with Stoute. He was replaced by Nature prior to recording of the album. The Album is a concept album that revolves around the themes of mafia and "gangsta" lifestyle. The songs on the album were mainly produced by Dr. Dre, Chris "The Glove" Taylor and Trackmasters (as Poke and Tone), and feature guest vocals from Pretty Boy, Wizard, Canibus, Dawn Robinson, Noreaga and Half-a-Mill.

The Album received mixed reviews from the music critics, who criticized its mainstream pop-oriented sound rather than the members' previous styles. In the United States, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and also topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It also charted in other countries, such as Canada, France and the United Kingdom. The Album sold 147,000 copies in the debut week and has sold over 925,000 copies in the United States and was certified gold in Canada.[9][10] Two singles were release from the album, with "Firm Biz" peaking at number twelve on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and number eighteen on the UK Singles Chart. However, the album's second single "Phone Tap" failed to chart.


Prior to the formation of The Firm, future members and affiliates of the group were at transitional stages of their careers. Following the acclaim of his landmark debut album Illmatic (1994), Queensbridge-based emcee Nas decided to concentrate his efforts in a mainstream direction.[11] Despite its significant impact on hip hop at the time, Illmatic did not experience the larger sales of most major releases of the day, due in part to Nas' shy personality and withdrawal from promoting the record.[11] Nas began to make appearances on other artists' work, including "Fast Life" on Kool G Rap's "4,5,6" and "Verbal Intercourse" on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (1995), which made him the first non Wu-Tang member to appear on one of their recordings. Nas began to dub himself as Nas Escobar on these guest appearances.[11] Meanwhile, his excessive spending habits had left him with little money, as Nas had to ask for a loan to purchase clothes to wear to the 1995 Source Awards.[11] The success of fellow East Coast act The Notorious B.I.G. at the awards show sent a message to Nas to change his commercial approach, resulting in his hiring of Steve "The Commissioner" Stoute as manager.[11] While Illmatic attained gold status, Stoute convinced Nas to aim his efforts in a more commercial direction for his second album, after which Nas enlisted production team the Trackmasters, who were known for their mainstream success at the time.[11]

Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based female rapper Foxy Brown was brought to the attention of the Trackmasters, who were working on LL Cool J's Mr. Smith (1995).[12] After impressing the production team with an on-stage freestyle rap, she earned a guest appearance on Mr. Smith, contributing a verse to the remix of "I Shot Ya".[12] Throughout 1995 and 1996, Brown appeared on several platinum and gold singles, including Jay-Z's "Ain't No Nigga" and the remix of Toni Braxton's "You're Makin' Me High". Her appearances sparked a recording company bidding war in early 1996, leading to her signing to Def Jam Recordings.[12] The success of "I Shot Ya" prompted her inclusion,[13] along with rappers AZ and Cormega, in collaborating with Nas on the song "Affirmative Action" for his second studio album, It Was Written (1996).[14] The collaboration came in the wake of the critical success of AZ's debut album Doe or Die (1995). He initially garnered attention with his appearance on Nas' "Life's a Bitch" (1993).[15] Cormega, whose rapping career had been put on hold due to his incarceration during the early 1990s, was referenced by Nas on "One Love" (1994), and was released from jail in 1995.[16]

Working with the Trackmasters as producers, Brown released her solo debut Ill Na Na (1996), which became a chart success and sold over two million copies.[12]

In an interview AZ personally picked Firm Biz, Phone Tap and Throw Your Guns as his favorites songs on the album.


According to critic Steve "Flash" Juon of RapReviews, the title of the album, as well as the group's name, was inspired by John Grisham's 1991 legal thriller-novel The Firm and the 1993 film adaption of the same name.[17] While it was issued under the title The Album, writers and music critics have referred to the album with such titles as The Firm,[18] Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present the Firm: The Album,[19] and The Firm — The Album,[20] or The Firm: The Album.[21]

Track listing[edit]

1."Intro"  0:47
2."Firm Fiasco"4:28
3."Phone Tap Intro"  0:35
4."Phone Tap" (featuring Dr. Dre)
  • Dr. Dre
  • The Glove
5."Executive Decision"
6."Firm Family" (featuring Dr. Dre)
  • Dr. Dre
  • The Glove
7."Firm All Stars" (featuring Pretty Boy)
  • Barnes
  • Marchand
  • Olivier
Poke and Tone3:20
8."Fuck Somebody Else Intro"  1:19
9."Fuck Somebody Else"
  • Dr. Dre
  • The Glove
Poke and Tone4:10
11."Untouchable" (featuring Wizard)
12."Five Minutes to Flush Intro"  0:45
13."Five Minutes to Flush"
  • The Glove
  • Dr. Dre
14."Desperados Intro"  0:29
15."Desperados" (featuring Canibus)
Poke and Tone4:30
16."Firm Biz" (featuring Dawn Robinson)
  • Cruz
  • Jones
  • Marchand
  • Anthony Brockert
  • Leshan Lewis
  • Allen McGrier
17."I'm Leaving" (featuring Noreaga)
Poke and Tone3:31
18."Throw Your Guns" (featuring Half-A-Mil)
Poke and Tone3:58
Total length:53:04

Sample credits

  • "Phone Tap", samples "Petite Fleur" by Chris Barber's Jazz Band
  • "Fuck Somebody Else", samples "You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else" by The Jones Girls
  • "Hardcore", samples "Your Love (Encore)" by Cheryl Lynn
  • "Five Minutes to Flush (Intro)", samples "Hard to Handle" by Etta James
  • "Five Minutes to Flush", samples "Five Minutes Of Funk" by Whodini
  • "Firm Biz", samples "Square Biz" by Teena Marie
  • "Firm All Stars", samples "Turn Off the Lights" by Young Larry
  • "Firm Fiasco", samples "A Ma Fille" by Charles Aznavour
  • "Firm Family" samples "Come On Sexy Mama" by The Moments
  • "Untouchable", samples "Mother Nature" by The Temptations
  • "I'm Leaving", samples "I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane" by John Denver
  • "Desparados", samples "Dune" by Wasis Diop
  • "Executive Decision", samples "Ô Corse île d'amour" by Tino Rossi


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[28] Gold 50,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobs, Qa'id. "The Album - The Firm". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  2. ^ Diehl, Matt (November 14, 1997). "Music Review: 'The Firm'". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  3. ^ "SOUND CHECK. - Free Online Library". Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  4. ^ "The Firm :: The Album :: Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records". June 20, 2006. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  5. ^ [1] Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "CG: Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, Az and Nature". Robert Christgau. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  7. ^ "Music: The Album (CD) by The Firm (Artist)". May 7, 2005. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  8. ^ Vibe - Google Books. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  9. ^ "'The Firm' Is Ninth Hip-Hop Album to Top Charts This Year". October 30, 1997 – via LA Times.
  10. ^ Crosley, Hillary (July 5, 2008). "More Than Words". Billboard. 120 (27): 33. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Cowie, Del F. Nas: Battle Ready Archived November 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Exclaim!. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  12. ^ a b c d Foxy Brown - Biography Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. The Foxy Brown Palace. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  13. ^ Bush, John. Foxy Brown: Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  14. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. The Firm: Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  15. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. AZ: Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  16. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. Cormgea: Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  17. ^ Juon, Steve. The Firm: "Back to the Lab" series. RapReviews. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  18. ^ Diehl, Matt. Music Review: The Firm. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  19. ^ Lang (2006), p. 117.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert. CG: Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, Az and Nature. Robert Christgau. Retrieved on 2009-02-22.
  21. ^ ego trip (1999), p. 26.
  22. ^ "The Firm Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  23. ^ [US&titel=The+Album&cat=a " – The Firm [US] – The Album"] (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  24. ^ [US&titel=The+Album&cat=a " – The Firm [US] – The Album"]. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  25. ^ "The Firm Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  26. ^ "The Firm Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  27. ^ "Billboard 200 Year end 1997". Billboard. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  28. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Firm – The Album". Music Canada. Retrieved May 15, 2016.


  • Ashyia N. Henderson (2001). Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 30. Gale Group. ISBN 0-7876-4621-0.
  • John Borgmeyer; Holly Lang (2006). Dr. Dre: A Biography. Edition: illustrated. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-33826-4.
  • Jake Brown (2006). Dr. Dre in the Studio. Edition: illustrated. Amber Books Publishing. ISBN 0-9767735-5-4.
  • Sacha Jenkins; Elliott Wilson; Gabe Alvarez; Brent Rollins (1999). Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists: Book of Rap Lists. Edition: illustrated. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-24298-0.
  • Mickey Hess (2007). Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture. Edition: illustrated. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-33904-X.
  • Todd Boyd (2004). The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop. NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-9896-9.

External links[edit]