JAY-Z Reveals He And Prodigy Made Peace Before His Death (Video)
While the JAY-Z vs. Nas battle of the early 2000s may be the one that gets the most ink in the history books, Hov’s beef with late Mobb Deep MC Prodigy is one of legend too. From Summer Jam photo reveals to disses on both sides, these two artists had apparent problems with one another in the public eye. In July, during a Roc-A-Fella live podcast reunion discussion hosted by It’s The Real, Just Blaze detailed how the “U Don’t Know” beat traveled from a Mobb Deep studio session to The Blueprint in one weekend. That was the same album that called out P on “The Takeover,” a song that’s original version focused almost entirely on the Mobb artist—per the podcast before it revised to include a verse aimed at Nas.
Speaking with author Michael Eric Dyson in 2011, Prodigy weighed in on the rift. “[JAY-Z] had my picture up when I was a little kid at my grandmother’s dance school. I thought I was Michael Jackson. Aight, so cool. That was funny to me. I didn’t even take offense to that. That was just funny to me. My whole problem was a whole ‘nother thing.”
The Loud Records artist (who died in June) says he and 10 to 15 of his affiliates waited for JAY-Z outside of Justin’s Restaurant, owned by Puff Daddy. “We surrounded the front door so he couldn’t get out without seeing us. So I’m standing there waiting to see him and finally he comes from back somewhere,” said Prodigy. “Him and Jermaine Dupri come walking. Jermaine sees us and he was out. Jay’s standing there with two bodyguards approaching us…He puts his hand out, like this, and comes walking up to me like this to shake my hand. So I’m looking at him like I could just really treat him like a rag dog right now like for real. So I shook his hand, ‘What’s up man?’ He was like ‘Yo listen, it ain’t no beef. It’s just music. Let’s keep it just music. There’s no problems son. I just wish you would have came and told me how you felt to my face instead of putting it in a magazine.’ And I’m like ‘Alright cool, there ain’t no beef. We can keep it just music.’ And I had thought about it real quick. ‘Cause I’m thinking about how I could just really overpower him right now with the security and all that.”
A newly published video interview with Jay confirms the low key peace-offering. In the second part of the Rap Radar Podcast, JAY-Z details his relationship with P and the loss of many Hip-Hop artists due to health and illness (15:00). “I feel like a lot of us… Sean [Price] and [Big] Kap dying, we have to really pay attention. [Prodigy] obviously had a sickness that he couldn’t [control], but we have to take care of ourselves. We really do. These guys are dying young. I mean, I had super respect for Prodigy. In order for me to really spar with you, like really spar, I gotta respect you somewhere. I mean, I sampled him for my first album.” On the DJ Premier-produced “D’Evils” it sampled P’s voice from LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya (Remix).”
Here he discusses the making good on the 2000s beef. “We spoke. Me and him spoke before he passed. I saw him in the club like I wanna say maybe five years ago or something like that. He just came over and we kicked it. Again, it wasn’t really about nothin’. It’s just sad; blessings to his family.”
During the Terror Squad vs. Roc-A-Fella beef, Jay also recalls riding an elevator to a New York Knicks game with nemesis Fat Joe. “It’s the most ridiculous thing…he’s right there, I’m right there…[despite the lyrics], we ain’t do nothin’.” In January, Jay signed Joe to his Roc Nation management. “I don’t want to have Rap beef. I’m checked out of that part of that game. I had enough, I had my share, it was great.”
JAY-Z’s discography is also a popular discussion piece. The Brooklyn, New Yorker has 13 solo albums, three collaborative efforts, live works, and multiple compilations. Since the ’90s, Hip-Hop Heads have debated the rankings and classic merits of these albums, as is the case with any great artist. But what does Jay think?
Elsewhere in the Rap Radar Podcast hosts state their classic album count (35:00). Elliott Wilson comes in at four total, while Brian “BDot” Miller tallies six. That’s where Jay interjects, “It has to be six.” He proceeds to compare two of his albums to two of Michael Jackson’s, in terms of mainstream reception to artistic breakthrough.
“Vol. 2 is the Thriller to Blueprint’s Off The Wall,” says Jay of his 1998 Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life LP. That Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam Records release marked Jay’s first in an ongoing streak of #1 LPs and produced six singles. He clarifies, “I’m not talking about [chronology], I’m talking about: what Thriller is to Michael is what Vol. 2 is to me. What Off The Wall is to him is what Blueprint [is for me]—the beloved album that everyone loves versus the one that was so big that you gotta call it [a classic]. Thriller is not a classic?…Hold on, I’m not saying Vol. 2 is [the same thing] as Thriller.” He then lists his six, “Vol. 2, Blueprint 1, Reasonable Doubt, Black Album, A.G., 4:44. Six.”
During this part of the discussion, Jay revisits his 10th LP, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this November. “I didn’t think [American Gangster] was a classic when it first came out. [The fans do that]. People also have to have a voice; it has to be popular opinion.”
The hosts then mention some lesser talked about Jay projects. “I think the first Best Of Both Worlds is amazing,” says Hov of his 2002 joint project with R. Kelly. As B.Dot and Elliott recall the songs that did not make the #2 Def Jam/Jive Records LP, Jay interjects. “I don’t even remember those times.” He then calls 2011’s Watch The Throne effort with Kanye West “incredible.” Jay opines, “I think if [Watch The Throne] is not there today [as a classic], in a couple years, it will be—only ’cause people had to get [over] the names. It’s hard to match the anticipation on something like that: ‘JAY-Z and Kanye is gonna make an album? That sh*t better be the most [incredible album].'”
The Roc Nation head says he envisioned a different roll-out with his partner. “That was my reasoning for telling [Kanye West], ‘Let’s not put out “H•A•M,” let’s not put out any single; let’s put the album out. Let’s put the album out and let people get the body of work, ’cause if you give them one thing to judge and nitpick apart, it’s me and you. If we can come with “Ni**as In Paris” with the “Benjamin” beat and people can be like, “Eh, it’s okay…I like it…They can do better,” it’s no fulfilling that expectation.’ So I think that suffered from that. I think a lot of the subject matter, now, people look back and go, ‘Oh sh*t, they were talking about Black excellence. This isn’t about some capitalism! The Givenchy cover [threw people off]. That’s why opinions could sway [art’s legacy] more than ever. Perception is reality is a strange thing now. That was never the case. Reality is reality.”
Elsewhere in the one-hour chat, Jay encourages mental health maintenance. He recalls urging Amy Winehouse to take care of herself, and his own painful excerpt of “Lost Ones.” The mogul breaks down the names of his new twins and the bond within some of his Roc boys.
#BonusBeat: The “Why Jay-Z’s 4:44 Is The Blueprint For Grown Man Rap” TBD episode:
Other TBD episodes.