The Classic Biggie Song That Inspired Jay Z’s Greatest Record

Life Writer

This is weird. I was at the laundromat waiting on my clothes to dry when next thing I know the local Fox affiliate station is teasing a documentary about Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt. I thought I misheard the news anchor until 10:30 struck and I’m hearing “Dead Presidents” blasting through the small television speakers anchored above the washing machines. I’m thinking this must be the Tidal documentary released over the summer because we’re four months past the official 20th anniversary of Jay’s first magnum opus. I mean, there’s no way Fox 5 NY is airing a brand new Reasonable Doubt documentary on a random Wednesday night in October. But that’s what the station did and boy was it full of interesting little factoids about Jay Z’s debut for any stan.

Reasonable Doubt: 20 Years Later is the brainchild of Hot 97’s Megan Ryte, who wanted to do something special for the 20th anniversary of her favorite album. So she got in touch with a couple of people who had a hand in creating Jay Z’s 1996 album. DJ Clark Kent, DJ Premier, Emory Jones, Kareem “Biggs” Burke and even Dame Dash, who was notably absent from Jay’s Tidal documentary, appear and share previously unheard stories on the making of the album. One of of the many gems dropped in the 20-minute mini documentary was how Jay Z influenced The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya,” which in turn influenced a few of Jay’s most classic records.

It all started when DJ Clark Kent was on the road with Big. The legendary producer said for months he would obnoxiously talk Big’s ears off with just how much better Jay Z was than the Bad Boy rapper. “My man’s the illest! You good, Big. You know I think you good. You my man,” Kent recalls telling his friend. “I wouldn’t be out on the road with you, but [Jay Z] is that deal.” With Kent constantly ranking Jay above him, Big went in the studio wanting to prove the producer wrong. Jay Z be damned, he was the nicest out. The rapper later returned with one of his hardest verses ever.

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