As we come up on the 20th anniversary of Jay Z's much heralded debut, Reasonable Doubt, fans are getting a glimpse into the recording process of the historic project courtesy of one of the architects behind it.
In a recent interview with Billboard, Kareem "Biggs" Burke, Executive Producer on Reasonable Doubt and one of the founders of Roc-A-Fella Records, reflected on the album and its upcoming anniversary and reminisced about the work that went into crafting an album that many - including Jay himself - call Hov's best.
One of the album's most historic moments was when Jay and The Notorious B.I.G. came together for the DJ Clark Kent-produced "Brooklyn's Finest," a classic display of MC skills that featured the two rap icons tossing the mic back and forth.
Biggs spoke on the recording of the song and how neither Jay or B.I.G. would write down their lyrics:
"...when Biggie and Jay sat at the board, the engineer came and dropped a pad and a pen right in between them. Jay looks at it and then he pushes it over to Big. Big looks at it and pushes it back. That’s the time they realized that neither one of them wrote lyrics [down on paper]. It was something monumental. Jay actually went in and did everything in five minutes. He broke down the song and left all these parts [for Big]. It was a different type of beat at that time."
Wait, what? Five minutes?!?! He laid down all his vocals in just five minutes? We've all heard of and seen Jay Z's penchant for delivering his bars off the dome with nothing written in front of him, but we're talking about a classic song here. What's maybe more incredible is that Jay envisioned the entire song structure, leaving lines open for B.I.G. to come in and deliver memorable bars such as his famous shots at 2Pac:
Me and Gutter had 2 spots / The 2-for-5 dollar hits, the blue tops / Gotta go, Coolio mean it's getting "Too Hot" / If Fay' had twins, she'd probably have two Pacs / Get it? ... Tu-pac's
I don't know what's more impressive, the fact that Jay didn't write down a word of that, or that Biggie also reportedly smoked 60 blunts in that sessions. Either way, Biggs' glimpse into the studio during the Reasonable Doubt sessions only further strengthens the genius of one Sean Carter and his otherworldly recording process. Seriously, though, five minutes?
By @brokencool, native Torontonian
Photo Credit: Jonathan Mannion