Jay Z’s 2000 Westwood Freestyle Portrays An MC In Stride For The Throne (Audio)
Right around the year 2000, Jay Z found himself in London, promoting his first #1 album, Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life. As the album was approaching 3 million units sold (it sits at more than 5 mill scanned in 2016), Shawn Carter hit Tim Westwood’s radio show.
In a new position, clawing to be Rap’s biggest star-lyricist (opposite Eminem, Nas, and DMX), Jay Z was not one bit above freestyles. Rhyming over his own “Do It Again” instrumental, Jay flexes his certifiable status at Y2K.
“Known for grossin’ the most, known for ballin’ the hardest,” S-Dot basks in some of his ad-libs and nuances that made him so unique. The verses—which have lots of improvisational tweaks, focus on an artist who had the money, the women, and the respect not seen in a while. Within, he re-weaves Boogie Down Productions’ “Bridge Is Over” nod to Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me.”
In this moment, Jay Z warns his Big Apple to peers to get out of his seat when he crosses the Atlantic—11 years before Watch The Throne. Then, before he and Beyoncé were believed to be an item, he drops a smooth Destiny’s Child simile. At a time, when the streets seemed to perceive Jay as four-for-four in album-making (with Vol. 3…Life And Times Of S. Carter newly on shelves), he tells the world that he can drop “a dud” and still hold his status. The beat changes, but Jay’s ironclad confidence remains the same—in this period where his ’90s style was starting to give way to his Blueprint stride.
Westwood liberates this previously unreleased freestyle at a time when Jay Z appears to be ramping up his latest campaign. In three months, the Brooklyn, New York don dada has appeared in three critical spots, making his presence felt.