Jaz-O Discusses The Record That He & JAY-Z Released In 1986 (Video)
Veteran Brooklyn, New York MC/producer Jaz-O released a new project, The Warmup. In a career that spans work with Rakim, M.O.P., DJ Premier, and others, Jaz-O is best known as the early mentor and rhyme partner of JAY-Z. The two artists with similar names appeared on several songs dating back to the mid-1980s. As Jay’s solo career took shape with Reasonable Doubt, Big Jaz became a prominent producer and guest on early Roc-A-Fella releases.
After some estranged years, Jay and Jaz rekindled their bond in the closing days of 2017. Last year, in 2019, Jaz—who declined an offer from Roc-A-Fella in the 1990s, inked a distribution deal with Roc Nation.
In a conversation at Sway In The Morning, Jaz-O details his rich history in Hip-Hop. Sway, an avid Jaz fan, speaks about the two EMI Records releases from the Marcy Projects MC. Jaz confirms that he wrote the hook to “Ain’t No Ni**a.” Jaz also confirms a dozen unreleased songs between him and Hov. He also credits himself as the first Hip-Hop artist to book sessions at D&D Studios. That Midtown Manhattan enclave became the recording home to Gang Starr Foundation, D.I.T.C., Boot Camp Clik, Roc-A-Fella, M.O.P., and others. The MC weighs in on pioneering a triplet style of flowing, which became a precursor to JAY-Z, Das EFX, Fu-Schnickens, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Crucial Conflict, and others.
The conversation gets especially interesting at the 15:00 mark. Jaz-O details a rarely-discussed 12″ single (embedded below) that marks his first appearance on wax, as well as JAY-Z’s—one that is missed in many discography accounts of Shawn Carter’s Songwriting Hall Of Fame career. “In 1985, I did a song called ‘HP Gets Busy,’ ’cause we had a lil’ group called High Potent MCs. That was myself, JAY-Z, this cat Almond Joy, and his brother, EZ LP. So we did a song…” As Jaz says it, DJ Wonder plays the record. “You f*ckin’ my head up right now…I gotta come down from the ceiling right now.” Sway jokes that the song has never been played on the radio before—despite the teen MCs’ dreams at the time. “We did that song, and we started making our way Uptown. I started doing rap battles at Broadway International and The Rooftop.” Jaz recalls one battle that involved Bronx, New York O.G. Just-Ice, as well as Brooklyn storyteller Dana Dane. He goes on to credit the BX’s Grandmaster Caz as a significant influence.
Notably, the label to “H.P. Gets Busy” has a 1986 copyright. Lyrics in the Get Live Records 12″ also reference ’86.
At 26:00, Jaz explains that he had a hand in introducing Jay to hustling, and those early years. “Truth be told, we both had dabbled—in and out. When bro talk about ‘spendin’ money from ’88’ [on ‘Dead Presidents’], you know, ’88 was the year. ’88 was basically the [EMI Records] deal, me, Jay, and Irv [Gotti] flying out to London to record my first album [Word To The Jaz].” Jaz confirms that Irv Gotti, who later founder Murder Inc., was his DJ. “Pieces to the puzzle. For the record: 2020, y’all still seeing what Jig’ saw, if you get it, there’s no puzzle,” Jaz says, effortlessly. “[JAY-Z] used to say that he didn’t want to be in the music business, but I knew that he did. But I also knew that he was doin’ what he felt he had to do to accumulate whatever it is that was in his heart to gain, equity, to rock—for whatever he wanted to do.”
At the 30:00 mark, Jaz addresses his reconciliation with his friend. “For all the things the media was saying about how I felt, [people that mutually knew JAY-Z and I said otherwise]. So those sentiments transfer over. Those same sentiments, in-kind, transferred back to me.” Jaz also acknowledged that even through some disses, the benefits of the shared history. “In all actuality, [JAY-Z] has been instrumental in keeping my name relevant for the past 20 years. I love that.” Moments later, Jaz adds, “That’s my bro. I did a lot of things and sacrificed a lot of things so that he wouldn’t have to go through a lot of the sh*t that I had to go through, to get to a certain point. And that’s another thing people don’t understand. They don’t understand it, because it doesn’t translate in their minds, because they’re not built like that—that’s not their type. They out there for self, [like], ‘Why would anybody do that?’ That’s the whole reason.”
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Notably, DJ Clark Kent calls into the show. He says he personally puts Jaz-O in his Top 3 pens of all-time. He presses Jaz about the prospects of doing a joint album with JAY-Z and Sauce Money. All three Brooklyn, New York MCs worked together for a time. Like Jaz, Sauce (who recently spoke out against Jay) declined an offer at Roc-A-Fella. Clark, who remains close to Jay and Roc Nation, believes Jaz has the ability to make such a plan come to fruition—even approximately 30 years later.
Jaz clarifies his new business relationship with Roc Nation too. In the closing minutes of the interview, the MC says that his distribution is through Equity, which is a company that “is a Carter enterprise. I see this EP being very successful, and them coming back and giving me some more money.”
The Warmup is 10 tracks and released on Jaz’ Kingz County imprint.
#BonusBeat: “HP Gets Busy” by High Potent: