The classic Big Pun beat Jay-Z rejected
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The classic Big Pun beat Jay-Z rejected

Many MCs reject beats that end up being anthems. In 2010, Pusha T declined the instrumental for the iconic Kanye West and Jay-Z track ‘N*ggas In Paris.’ However, even the wealthiest, most experienced rappers make mistakes when discerning hit songs from duds.

In the 1990s, the Roc-A-Fella A&R Kyambo Joshua was the head of a production house that boasted top-tier producers, including Kanye West, Just Blaze, and DJ Clark Kent. However, another beatmaker affiliated with Joshua was Knobody (real name Jerome Foster).

The New York producer was responsible for producing what became Jay-Z’s first charting single, ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle,’ which remains a fan favourite and continued to produce East Coast classics for artists such as De La Soul and Q-Tip.

However, in 1998, Kyambo Joshua presented Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) with a Knobody instrumental that he swiftly rejected. Unfortunately for the Brooklyn legend, the track was then presented to Bronx legend and Terror Squad co-founder Big Pun, who recorded over the track.

The beat Carter rejected turned out to be the instrumental for Pun’s 1998 single ‘Still Not a Player’ featuring Joe, which became Big Pun’s biggest hit, among other now-classic hip-hop records. The single featured a sample of the 1979 track, ‘A Little Bit of Love’ by Brenda Russell and became a platinum-certified anthem.

Kyambo Joshua admitted that he never took it personally when Jay rejected beats he insisted were hits and was always humble when the instrumentals, indeed, turned out to be iconic. In an interview with the R.O.A.D. podcast, Joshua explained, “I’m never really [holding] grudges or like, ‘I told you so.’ I’m already moving on to the next record ’cause sometimes it’s just like only 14 songs. So it’s like, whatever’s best for the record. So I know that a record gotta motivate him. That’s why, any hook I ever did, I had to convince him to do the record.”

Joshua stated that most of the songs he presented Jay took, including the 1999 hit ‘Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)’ and and the 2000 UGK-assisted single ‘Big Pimpin.’ You can listen to Kyambo Joshua speaking about the Big Pun beat in the video below.