Drake’s “Hotline Bling” is driven by its sampled groove from Timmy Thomas’ platinum selling “Why Can’t We Live Together,” a powerful song that came out on Henry Stone’s Glades Records in 1972. It is the crucial cut that made Henry Stone’s T.K. Productions a global force in music. T.K. Productions was the corporate umbrella for his slew of independent record labels that topped the pop and r&b charts throughout the 1970s.
Polydor International handled some overseas distribution, but in America, Henry Stone distributed it through his T.K. Productions corporation, and Glades Records grew into a major indie label with artists like Latimore, Little Milton, Clarence Reid, Archie Drell, and Timmy Thomas among others.
Henry Stone formed the T.K. Productions corporation when he found out that Atlantic Records would merge with Warner and Elektra to form WEA and conduct their own distribution. Up to that point, they had worked with independent distributors like Stone. Stone had been an Atlantic distributor since the very beginnings of that company. As Stone would no longer be a distributor for product he leased to the label, he decided against licensing “Why Can’t We Live Together” to the company.
Stone was on a plane to New York to lock in the deal with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records for their release of “Why Can’t We Live Together.” Instead, he went straight back to Miami and decided to manufacture, market, promote, and distribute it himself instead. He ended up with a million seller on his hands right out of the gate. The song became a #1 chart topper around the world in addition to becoming the official rallying cry for an apartheid free South Africa and later the official induction song for the election of Nelson Mandela as President.
Timmy Thomas is a legend in the world of music and his simple and heartfelt tribute to peace and love is a classic whose power shall never falter. And that’s why Drake is on it.