Ski Beatz Admits To Throwing Away An Entire Pre-Reasonable Doubt JAY-Z Album & Big L Music
Hip-Hop lore often provides Heads with stories of triumph, classic moments, and past situations that, at the time, those involved didn’t know how legendary they’d be. Sometimes though, disheartening news will emerge when the greats do recall their musical past.
RZA’s studio was flooded multiple times, which caused the creation of alternative versions of Method Man’s Tical and Inspectah Deck’s Uncontrolled Substance, among others. Those albums are great, but imagine if The Abbott’s “original version” of those LPs ended up being what Hip-Hop fans received at the time.
Similar misfortune fell on Mobb Deep when they lost the reels to a swath of unreleased music recorded at the time of The Infamous’ creation. Eventually, DJ Stretch Armstrong found them and they were released in coordination with the Queensbridge duo’s 2014 album, The Infamous Mobb Deep. Q-Tip also had a similar experience when his house caught on fire in 1998 and a bunch of music he had recorded was destroyed.
Perhaps though, one of the most tragic instances of lost music occurred with Ski Beatz, the producer most known for producing chunks of JAY-Z’s 1996 Debut LP Reasonable Doubt, the entirety of Camp Lo’s 1997 debut, Uptown Saturday Night, as well as his placements on AZ’s 1995 album, Doe Or Die. The North Carolina-born beat maker recently spoke with DJ Booth‘s Donna-Claire Chesman, and claims he lost music from two of Hip-Hop’s greatest MCs.
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“Around the time I was working for [Big] L, that’s when he passed,” remembered the member of the DJ Clark Kent-mentored Original Flavor. “Nobody heard the songs, and I did all those songs on ADAT. Around that time, that’s when the whole ProTools and the whole computer thing started to come into play. I wasn’t even thinking about the future… Any ADATs I had, I just got rid of all of my ADATs and went into the computer world. I didn’t make [copies] of anything that we did.”
“That goes for a lot of JAY-Z,” he continued. “Before Reasonable Doubt, we had a whole album that we did, that nobody has ever heard,” he continued. “I did it on ADAT, and when I got rid of all the ADAT, I got rid of all the Big L stuff, all the Jay-Z stuff. Even unreleased Camp Lo music. I wasn’t even thinking.”
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Big L’s potentially astronomical catalog was cut short due to his tragic murder in 1999. As for an explanation, Ski says at the time, both Hov’ and L weren’t the household names people know them as now and he didn’t know where technology would go. “I threw that stuff out,” he said. “That’s what I did, not thinking that in the future this stuff…[not thinking that] people would wanna hear this stuff. When you making this music, you not thinking that everybody’s gonna blow up. Now, I keep everything because you never know.”
More recently, Ski Beatz has produced for The Cool Kids, Curren$y, Murs, Locksmith, Smoke DZA, and his own LP, 24 Hour Karate School Presents Twilight, which he released in 2012. He also helmed the production for Camp Lo’s 2015 album, Ragtime Hightimes.
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#BonusBeat: Ski’s production on 1996’s “Dead Presidents II”: