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by (@Lacezilla)

VH1 ALBUM-VERSARIES: Damon Dash And Clark Kent Wax Nostalgic On Reasonable Doubt At 15


 
Welcome to VH1′s new monthly series, Album-Versaries, in which we share fresh stories with you about the creation and lasting impact of some of the most important and influential albums in music history on their milestone anniversaries. Our first installment will focus on Jay-Z?s 1996 LP Reasonable Doubt, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary. This is Part II of a two-part series; Part I, Damon Dash Reflects on Jay-Z?s Reasonable Doubt On Its 15 Anniversary, ran yesterday.
 
Fifteen years ago, Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, dropped on a largely unsuspecting public. For an independently produced album, it managed to debut pretty strongly on the charts (#23 on the Billboard 200), but it would still be a few years before Jay-Z’s became the household name it is today. That said, the LP now stands amongst the most highly regarded in hip-hop history and, in the timeline of Jay’s existence as both a person and an artist, represents the point in his life where he left the hustle of the streets behind and instead chose to pursue a career in music.
 
So, with Reasonable Doubt celebrating such an essential milestone, VH1 exclusively spoke to producers Ski and Clark Kent, as well as the album’s co-executive producer and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, Damon Dash, about their recollections of the recording process. In Part II of VH1 Album-Versaries: Reasonable Doubt At 15, we’ll share with you stories Dame and Clark told us about the epic recording session of Jay and Biggie’s legendary track “Brooklyn’s Finest,” how these two feel about the gritty (and possibly unethical) themes of the album now that they have fifteen years worth of hindsight, and whether or not Jay and Dame will ever be able to repair their soured friendship.
 
BROOKLYN’S FINEST
 

 
There’s no definitive way to form a consensus for the best emcee of all-time, but anytime the question comes up, Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls) are ALWAYS part of the conversation. In fact, in an MTV survey conducted back in 2006, Jay-Z and Biggie were listed as the #1 and #3 MCs of all-time, respectively. However, back when Reasonable Doubt was being recorded, Biggie was on top of the world, while no one outside of Brooklyn really knew who Jay was. Despite this, and thanks to Biggie’s DJ and Jay’s then-producer Clark Kent, the pair were introduced in a hoodwinked fashion and eventually laid down a track together, “Brooklyn’s Finest.”
 
?I was on tour with Big, so I was playing Jay?s sh*t for him every day on the bus,” recalls Clark. “At that point, I had made him respect Jay?s craftsmanship.” So when Clark accidentally played the “Brooklyn’s Finest” beat in front of Biggie during a Unique Studios session with Junior M.A.F.I.A., Big heard it, and said he wanted it. “I told him it was for Jay, and he was like ‘you give Jay everything!’”
 
Demanding that he get on the track too, Biggie accompanied Clark to D&D Studios that night, but didn’t actually come inside. Upstairs, once Jay finished his verses for the song (that was then tentatively titled either ?Once We Get Started? or ?No More Mr. Nice Guy”), Clark asked if they could put Big on the record as well. Dame didn?t want to pay “Puff” (pardon, Diddy) for the feature, and Jay was hesitant because he (1) didn?t know the already-popular rapper and (2) had just finished the song, but they both agreed that if Big would do it for free, they’d be game. ?I had Big in a car downstairs, waiting just in case,? explains Clark, who then told them he was going to the bathroom, and came back up with The Notorious himself. ?Put them in front of each other, there was no denying what could happen.? Two months later, after Big had walked away with Jay’s re-done verses on cassette, he came back to spit his own, and the song was officially born.
 
And as for the result? Well, in a review of Reasonable Doubt that was included as part of their 2003 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time feature, Rolling Stone described the track as featuring “two hungry talents seemingly aware that they had no one to outduel but each other.”. We also asked Dash to shed some light on this legendary collaboration and how it finally came together and, well, let’s just say that a lot of the sticky icky-icky was involved. Watch Dame tell the light-hearted story in his own words in the video we have clipped for you below.
 


 
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Tuned In: The Voice Winner Javier Colon Gives His All On “Stitch by Stitch” On Leno

Javier Colon was probably happy that the other late-night shows were in reruns last night when he appeared on the Tonight Show, but considering the ratings that The Voice pulled in for NBC, other musicians would probably have been just as happy not to have to face off with the show’s champion. He played the original composition that helped him win the reality competition, “Stitch by Stitch,” and it sounded great?an amalgam of the best bits of his performance on The Voice (e.g. live drums) and the studio version (a more fleshed-out, but not obtrusive, arrangement). As a conclusion to the televised promotion of both himself and The Voice before the show’s summer tour kicks off, it couldn’t have gone better.

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Beyonc? Gets Into Character (And Lingerie) For The “Best Thing I Never Had” Video

You know how movies that treat the books they’re based on as sacred texts sometimes feel a little dry? Beyonc?‘s new video “Best Thing I Never Had” kind of has that problem. By committing so intensely to the song’s storyline, the video ends up feeling like it’s not for us?it’s for the guy who, as the song puts it, showed his ass. There’s a lot to like about the video, to be sure, but it’s not much more satisfying than listening to the song.

The video opens with pre-wedding Beyonc?, alone in a white room in white bridal lingerie. Her reflection on life turns to the one that (thank God) got away, and she starts singing to him/the camera. This bit has its cake and eats it too: it’s a brag to the man who didn’t know what he had:

So she shows the camera exactlywhat he had?for a minute and a half. Since it’s all in the spirit of a boast, it’s not at all inappropriate that Beyonc? just walks in her underwear!

Then we get Beyonc? out on the grass in her wedding dress (almost a pastoral version of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” VMA performance), interspersed with clips of her character thirteen years ago, attending prom with the Best Thing She Never Had:

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Shearer’s Spotlight: An Appreciation Of The Bouncing Souls

Each Friday here on the VH1 Blog, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer?s Spotlight with us. Be sure to tune into the Top 20 countdown when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT tomorrow morning.

This week I?m being spoiled. Over a course of four days?tonight being the fourth?punk rock veterans and one of my favorite bands ever, the Bouncing Souls, will be playing their entire album catalog (two albums per night) at the Highline Ballroom in New York City.

If you?re not familiar with the Jersey punks, here?s a quick history:

The Bouncing Souls formed in 1987 and built an underground following by playing punk rock music infused with a humorous pop sensibility. In the mid-90?s, when punk bands like Green Day and Blink-182 were inking major label record deals, the Bouncing Souls decided to stay independent, even banning themselves from MTV.

Over 20 years later, the Bouncing Souls?who don?t look much different than they did when I first saw them perform live?are usually out on tour, playing packed-beyond-capacity venues around the world.

Here are three things a younger band could learn from the Bouncing Souls:

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Last Lap: Thursday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

Jay-Z And Kanye’s Friends Get To Hear Watch The Throne
Apparently tired of the false rumors surrounding their forthcoming collaboration Watch the Throne, which, it turns out, is completed, Jay-Z and Kanye West have begun previewing the record for friends in the industry, so as to correct the record without leaking the, um, record. MTV News has a roundup of who’s heard it and what they’ve said.

Vanilla Ice Joins Eight-Year-Old Youtube Rapper Matty B. To Cover “Ice Ice Baby”
In hindsight, this was inevitable. Actually, “Matty B. guest spot” is a significant upgrade from “Gathering of the Juggalos commercial.” [Vulture]
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Monica’s New Single “Anything” Stacks The Deck With Past Song Of The Summer Heavyweights

When Monica and Rick Ross talked to MTV a year ago about collaborating, their mutual admiration society vibe didn’t exactly lend credence to the possibility. Yet here we are! Missy Elliott, reinvigorated after being away from the game to attend to her health issues, flips another Notorious B.I.G. track, and once again, Lil’ Kim is also on board. (In 2007, it was a “Juicy” sample for Keyshia Cole‘s “Let It Go”; this time around Missy reworks “Who Shot Ya.”)

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by (@Lacezilla)

VH1 ALBUM-VERSARIES: Damon Dash Reflects on Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt On Its 15 Anniversary


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Welcome to VH1′s new monthly series, Album-Versaries, in which we share fresh stories with you about the creation and lasting impact of some of the most important and influential albums in music history on their milestone anniversaries. Our first installment will focus on Jay-Z’s 1996 LP Reasonable Doubt, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary. This is Part I of a two-part series; Part II can be found by clicking here.
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With worldwide record sales of over 30 million units, multiple successful business ventures that have lined his pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars, a best-selling book, and a happy marriage to the “hottest chick in the game,” there are seemingly few mountains for Jay-Z left to climb. However, just like any other self-made man, Jay-Z didn’t start out at the top. It’s hard to remember a time when he wasn’t an all-American, endorsement-toting, “Run This Town” business man, but the truth of the matter is that during the early nineties, Jay was running with a wild crew and involved in more than his fair share of illegal activities. Fifteen years ago, Jay-Z the Icon, Jay-Z the Business Man, and Jay-Z the “Best Rapper Alive” didn’t exist; at that time, he was simply Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, a crack cocaine dealer turned rapper that, according to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, “came from Damon [Dash]?s imagination.”
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Then, on June 25, 1996, Reasonable Doubt dropped. Although it didn’t exactly fly off the shelves or spawn any Top 10 singles right off the bat, the LP now stands amongst the most highly regarded in hip-hop history and, in the timeline of Jay’s existence, symbolizes the pivotal point when his life could have conceivably gone in two wholly different directions. On the fifteenth anniversary of the album’s release, we exclusively spoke to producers Ski and Clark Kent, as well as the album’s co-executive producer and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, Damon Dash, about their recollections of the recording process. Dash and Jay-Z have had a well-documented falling out in recent years, but that didn’t stop Dame from sharing some phenomenal stories with us about the brotherhood he and Hov shared during this crucial period in both of their lives, what it was like seeing Jay and the Notorious B.I.G. record their legendary track “Brooklyn’s Finest,” what he thinks of the gritty, unethical themes of Reasonable Doubt now that he’s got fifteen years worth of hindsight, and much more.
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JAY-Z: THE WORST RAPPER ALIVE?
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“He was one foot out the door to the street life,” recalls hip-hop producer Irv Gotti in VH1′s Classic Albums special on Jay-Z’s debut LP. Like many great artists across various mediums, Jay’s first work wasn’t initially met with universally glowing reviews out of the gate (although it would eventually earn them with the passing of time). Critical of the rapper’s flamboyant mafioso persona, a pattern of feedback emerged, praising the emcee for his articulate command of the language and conversational lyrical ability, but totally dismissing the album for its crime-ridden stories as having a “we’ve seen this before” quality to them: “Jay-Z’s street-savvy raps may seem like nothing new, but there’s a reason the Brooklyn native is topping the charts,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Dimitri Ehrlich in August of 1996, and the Los Angeles Daily News was cited as saying that his ?sassy way with a lyric transcends the material.? Even The Source magazine’s hip-hop braintrust gave the album only four mics in their review (later changed to a “classic” rating of five mics).
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To hear Damon Dash tell it, Jay-Z’s record industry prospects prior to the album’s release were going even worse for him than the media’s reception to his work. “I said he will be the greatest rapper of all-time at a time when everyone told me he was the worst rapper,” he explained to us about his conversations with the suits who run the record labels. “You understand? I had been shopping him, and everyone told me ‘He raps too fast.’” Feedback like this wasn’t about to dissuade the pair (alongside silent partner Kareem “Biggs” Burke), though, and they headed into studio feeling confident that they could birth the kind of record that would make their hustle’s potential turn to alchemical reality.
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“Because we believed in it so much, you couldn’t even tell me that it wasn’t going to be the best album that was ever made,” Dash gushed. “And it’s funny because it became that.”
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The Hood Internet Remixes Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”

Foster the People scored an unlikely chart victory this week, enjoying a fifth-week sales bump for their debut album Torches, which rose from 48 to 46 on the Billboard 200 this week. It probably helps that “Pumped Up Kicks” hit #1 on the Alternative Songs chart after slipping to #2 last week. Now remixers and mashup DJs The Hood Internet have premiered an “official” (their scarequotes) remix, featuring a slightly chopped-up take on the song and a verse from Hollywood Holt. Our favorite part is actually just after the MC finishes, when the vocals are layered, out-of-sync but on-beat, to harmonize with themselves.

Listen: Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks (The Hood Internet Remix feat. Hollywood Holt) [Soundcloud]

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Is Lady Gaga Is A Drug-Addicted Anorexic? That’s What “Investigative Journalist” Ian Halperin Implies

Have you heard the latest Lady Gaga rumor? It’s a doozy. Investigative journalist and author Ian Halperin tells Star that “Gaga barely ate for weeks at a time to fit into her costume,” that “Part of the reason she wears wigs and makeup is because her hair is falling out and she’s covered in red blotches, both side effects of [lupus],” and that “she has done every drug conceivable,” all according to her friends and his other sources. “She’s morphed into this caricature called Lady Gaga, who isn’t even a real person. The girl known as Stefi to her friends and family has all but disappeared.” Gasp! These are serious allegations!

Wait a second. This sounds like the same combination of actual fact stretched to the edge of glory believability, carefully-phrased but non-libelous implications, and juicy but impossible-to-disprove conjecture that characterized the Sandra Bullock-Jesse James sex-tape rumor, or that poorly-sourced book that insisted that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were on the verge of breaking up. Who wrote those again? Oh yeah?investigative journalist and author Ian Halperin.

We have to say, Halperin’s rumor-mongering is extraordinarily skillful. He may even be our generation’s Robert Harrison. He lays out a diagnosis of anorexia, leaving readers to draw the conclusion. He springboards off Gaga’s revelation a year ago that she’s genetically predisposed to lupus to fashion a fable about her costumes. He uses variety of drug use to imply regularity of drug use. And certainly no one can deny his claim that “she’s morphed into this caricature called Lady Gaga, who isn’t even a real person.”

So while we’re extremely skeptical of Halperin’s claims, we do have to admit he can spin a good yarn. And while nothing can top his claiming, after the death of Michael Jackson, to have predicted the death of Michael Jackson, this Gaga tell-all may be his next-best work.

Lady Gaga’s Drug And Diet Hell: ‘She’s A Walking Time Bomb’ Says Friend [Radar Online]

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Nicki Minaj Pink Friday Outtake Eerily Resonant In The Wake Of Her Cousin’s Murder

An unreleased Nicki Minaj track called “We Miss You” surfaced last night thanks to Funkmaster Flex, and with its memorial lyrics like “Why?d you have to leave in July on a peaceful and serene summer night?” and “You said that you would leave these streets, and I know you did not mean in a bodybag,” many marveled at what sounded like references to the murder of her older cousin Nicholas Telemaque on Sunday night in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, on a song that probably could not have been recorded and released in such a short period while Minaj was on tour with Britney Spears.

Minaj cleared up the confusion earlier today on Twitter. “Tho the lyrics of ‘We Miss You’ eerily depict the circumstances surrounding my cousin’s death, I wrote & recorded that song on 5/24/2010. It was sent to Mariah Carey & Keyshia Cole over a year ago for a possible feature. It didn’t make Pink Friday due to clearance issues. It’s an unauthorized leak. Thank u ALL for your kind words and well wishes.”

If there is an actual subject of the song, it’s likely the man mentioned in Nicki’s verse over French Montana‘s “New York Minute” on the Young Money Menage mixtape. In one of the rare mentions of New York as her hometown, she eulogizes, in order, rapper Stack Bundles, “my man, down before he even got a cap and a damn gown,” and Sean Bell.

#IFWT Exclusive: Nicki Minaj ? We Miss You [In Flex We Trust via Rap Radar]