He’s rarely spotted in public, and hardly ever seen or heard doing any press, but Jay-Z made an exception when he appeared on HBO’s “The Shop.”
The rap mogul opened up about his life and career and took fans for a stroll down memory lane as he reflected on the impact of the late rapper DMX.
“We met battling in the Bronx, in the pool hall. … He was just all passion,” recalled Jay during the season 4 premiere on May 28. That passion translated to shared competitiveness between the two emcees. “So, there was a competitive thing, but it was big love. He was so competitive with me. I never met a human being more competitive with me. Ever. Not even my big brother. No one.”
Jay recalled one of his fondest memories included being on tour with The Lox, Method Man, Redman, JaRule, and DMX. At the time Hov’s big hit was “Hard Knock Life” off his highly successful “Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life” album. He had a huge fanbase and his industry’s highest accolade [a Grammy] under his belt, but nothing could prepare him for following Dark Man X’s set on stage.
”X is about to go, and I’m like, I wanna see. And he goes [growls], and the f—–g arena goes crazy,” he recalled. “First of all, it’s deafening, and I’m like, ‘Ohhh s–t.’ He has a thing, like an Alize and Hennessey mix, it looks like blood, like he’s drinking blood, and he’s running back and forth [on the stage].”
The billionaire-status rapper continued on with his story, further sharing just how shook X’s stage presence had him.
“He’s going nuts, right? And I’m like, ‘Sh-t.’ First the guys are going crazy, now the girls are going crazy. And then he gets to the end, and he starts a prayer. And now they’re crying, the whole arena is crying. And then [concert organizers] go, ‘OK, now you go.’”
Similar stories of the rapper’s impact were shared by fans and other artists as his life hung in the balance during the week of April 3. Days later on April 9 he was declared dead as a result of a heart attack.
Jay also shared thar the respect he had for X was at the root of his decision to boycott the Grammys in 1998. “We both came out that year, he didn’t get nominated, he dropped two albums [“It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” and “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood”], had two number one albums in that same year,” said Jay. “They didn’t even nominate him. I won that year for rap album, so my first Grammy win I wasn’t there, I wasn’t even in the building because I boycotted it for him.”
A few years later DMX earned his first two Grammy nominations for his “Party Up” single and “…And Then There Was X” album in 2000. The following year he was also nominated for “Who We Be,” but he was never deemed a Grammy winner.