So I walk into Beat Street Records in Brooklyn one day and some guy named Dame Dash is with his artist Jay Z and they’re personally putting their single “Dead Presidents,” on the store shelves. Being the wise DJ that I am, I immediately copped two copies of the vinyl. The flipside was entitled Jay Z’s Listening Party,” and it included four snippets of songs that would appear on his Reasonable Doubt debut. One of the snippets was a unfinished demo version of Can’t Knock the Hustle before they put Mary J. Blige on it. The second verse which was more like a freestyle, wound up being different from what was on the retail album. There was no hook, only featured Jay talking about a few prominent producers he had to finish songs for: “I ain’t even finished, got these Premier joints to do, Clark Kent shits, it’s about to get sick you know.” Vintage stuff right here, you can even here the crackling of the needle on the vinyl.
Back then the grind was called legwork and personal interaction, very different from how artists go about getting on in these technology driven days. Back then if you didn’t get outside, you may as well forget about having a career. No surprise these two men went on to become moguls and had the rap game on lock for a minute. And those A&Rs who thought Jay was corny and passed on his demo back then? Well you have company in the Portland Trailblazers when it comes to all time blunders. Continue reading