The Jay-Z classic that was meant for Busta Rhymes
(Credit: Alamy)

Old School Archives

The Jay-Z classic that was meant for Busta Rhymes

Jay-Z is the wealthiest man in hip-hop, and since 1995, Hov has been bringing us quality music. From Reasonable Doubt to 4:44, the Brooklyn rapper has been around since the days of Big Daddy Kane and Biggie Smalls. As one of the first artists from the genre to achieve billionaire status, Hov (real name Shawn Carter) is considered one of the best rappers of all time. 

At the turn of the millennium, during the height of his feud with Nas and Mobb Deep, Carter released his sixth studio album, The Blueprint. A 15-track body of work that boasts features from the likes of Eminem and others. However, one of the tracks on the project was initially meant for Busta Rhymes.

The track was ‘U Don’t Know’. Produced by one of Roc-a-Fella’s most talented beatmakers, Just Blaze, the song was made with Busta Rhymes and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy in mind. 

During a recent appearance on the IDEA GENERATION podcast, Just Blaze (real name Justin Smith) explained how he and Prodigy were close and disclosed the beat was ready to appear on Infamy. 

Speaking about the instrumental, Smith explained, “‘U Don’t Know’ was at one point going to be Busta and Prodigy,” Just Blaze revealed. “A lot of people don’t know, me and P used to hang out a lot. I still don’t have a lot of rap friends, right? He was one of the few people to actually come to the house.”

He continued, “It was wild because then [The Alchemist] ended up moving around the corner from me. So ‘U Don’t Know’ had been done, and then I made ‘Song Cry,’ like, the second night after Jay finished recording whatever he was recording that day.”

Speaking on how he played it to various artists, Just Blaze recalled, “‘U Don’t Know.’ Yo, the worst thing ever was knowing that I have Jay ready for me, but Busta’s doing this Busta Rhymes [style] on the ‘U Don’t Know’ beat. I’m like, ‘Yo, this is real dope.’ I’m torn. I’m a kid at the time, and I’m torn.”

He concluded, “Luckily, Busta didn’t record to it. I go back to Soundtrack [Studios], where Mobb Deep was recording. Prodigy hears the beat; I play it off of a cassette. He starts rhyming to it. Some drama ended up happening; he had to leave. I go around the corner [to Baseline Studios], I play it for Jay. [This is] all in that same weekend. Then, all of a sudden, Jay was like, ‘Yo, lay that right now.'”

You can hear ‘U Don’t Know’ and Just Blaze speaking about the beat’s creation in the video below.