Last year, Black Entertainment Television (BET) premiered its Murder Inc. documentary, in which the label’s co-founder Irv Gotti revealed that Jay-Z, DMX and Ja Rule were supposed to form a supergroup in the late 1990s that never happened.
Irv Gotti, who co-founded the label with Ja Rule in the 1990s, helped the Queens rapper link up with Jay-Z and DMX, and together, they collaborated on multiple tracks. Hov and DMX worked on ‘Money, Cash, Hoes’ in 1998, and the Brooklyn emcee worked with Ja Rule on ‘Can I Get A’ in the same year.
The three artists, who all became New York City stars in the late 1990s, had a very tight-knit relationship, and many within the industry referred to them as a supergroup. Moreover, several people believed they would attempt to form a trio outside their respective labels.
Although the industry was keen for the three to join forces, it never came to fruition, and Jay-Z attributes it to the competitive nature of hip-hop, with each of the rhymers wanting their respective crews and areas to be the best in the city.
With Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella representing Brooklyn, Ja Rule’s Murder Inc. symbolizing Queens and the Ruff Ryders putting Yonkers on the map, the individuals were more focused on their solo careers and the success of their crews. Hov also highlighted the existence of big egos.
Speaking in the documentary, Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) stated, “I think it was everyone’s ambition and everyone’s ego. It was just three guys, three independent labels, three Black men who were all fighting to be the best in the world. Me and X had like a thing. He was always super competitive with me. I was super competitive at that time as well. Ja was just happy to be in the room at the time he hadn’t become the Ja Rule that we all come to know and love.”
Irv Gotti said although he presented the idea, deep down, he knew it would never happen as the three would clash, disclosing, “The supergroup with Jay, X and Ja, I used it to push branding for Murder Inc. All I gotta do is put a hot track on, and they gon go at it. If there’s a studio and the rappers is rapping, X is trying to kill you. Hov, you can’t tell Hov he ain’t the best. He thinks he’s fucking the illest ever, and he might be. Rule has a Napoleon complex. If you think for one second he’s bowing down to anybody, no.”
You can see a XXL cover from June 1999 of the three below.