Meet The Man Who Helped Save Jay Z’s Career

05.13.14 4 years ago 23 Comments

“I never felt more alive than riding shotgun, in Klein’s green five, until the cops pulled the guns” — Jay Z on “Allure”

Rap is full of “what if” stories. And when you consider the former lives and professions of some of our favorite emcees, that question – what if – can take us to some dark hypothetical places.

Like, “What if Jay-Z had gone to jail? What if he never had the opportunity to record Reasonable Doubt?”

His backstory as well-known as it is, it’s probably right to assume that he had multiple close encounters with the law. But rarely, if ever, have we heard of a saga as detailed as the one told by his former friend and known drug dealer Calvin “Klein” Bacote. In an interview with VladTV, “Klein” discusses being mentioned in a Jay-Z song:

“I met Jay in I want to say the mid-80s, when I came home after ’86 but we never come crossing paths in the game until, I want to say maybe late ’86, ’87, around that time… The lyric from [“Allure” off of] The Black Album, ‘I’ve never felt so alive, riding shotgun in Klein’s green five,’ that came from a case we both caught in ’89.”

The case?

“We was at a party and mayhem just broke out crazy and… me and Jay ended up the ones being caught and we actually got locked up, attempted murder, assault with with a deadly weapon, battery. I wind up convincing that the guy pressing charges on us to drop the charges but he was kind of hard pressed seeing that he was willing to drop the charges on one person but wasn’t willing to drop the charges on both of us so that’s how that played out and how I got Jay off the case and I actually took the case on and went to trail.

Jay testified on my behalf on that but if it had not been my wittiness of me going to the guy and talking to him and working some things out off the record or behind the scenes… A lot of people don’t realize that Jay would have lost his moment of opportunity because both of us would have both been sitting in there doing more than 10 years because I went to trial facing 40 years and 40 years in the state of Maryland, no less than 10.”

The interview goes on for nine minutes, but that particular exchange starts around the two-minute mark.

There are few people on the planet around which Jay-Z has to tread lightly, but Klein definitely qualifies. People from your past will have that effect – based on this new exchange and a particularly candid interview with HipHopDX back in 2007, the former drug dealer isn’t just responsible for keeping Jay-Z a free man, but much of the wild subject matter that appears throughout Jigga’s catalog, insofar as Klein was actually the one living the “life.”

A rapper fabricating some of his past to sell a more compelling story? Jay isn’t the first to be accused of such, and he won’t be the last. The only difference is that he has less reasons than any other rapper at responding to whatever “fake” claims get tossed his way. Nothing to gain, a whole lot to potentially lose.

So believe what you want, because matters like this probably won’t find resolution. But know that, regardless of what is or isn’t true, understanding what we can about Klein is paramount in understanding Jay.

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