The moment Jay-Z met Biggie Smalls
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The moment Jay-Z met Biggie Smalls

Music mogul billionaire Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) has become one of the most successful hip-hop artists of all time and, since his emergence in the late 1990s, has sold millions of records. However, before his explosion into the mainstream, Biggie Smalls was the most prominent artist in New York.

Born and raised in the infamously poor Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn, Carter was raised by his mother. Jay-Z grew up in the 1980s. During this period, Brooklyn was a musical hotspot.

As New York entered the 1990s, the borough became more musically active than the Bronx, to the surprise of many. As a teen, Carter attended several local schools and, along the way, was even classmates with other Brooklyn rappers such as Biggie Smalls and Busta Rhymes. 

When Biggie (real name Christopher Wallace) was releasing his first album, Ready To Diein 1994, Carter was busy setting up his record label alongside Damon Dash. The two were hustlers and had endured similar tribulations while trying to get into the music game. The pair had gone to extreme lengths to raise funds and had both seen the ugly side of Brooklyn. This alone was enough to form a bond between them.

Although Biggie was already flourishing when Roc-A-Fella was first created, he was happy to take Carter under his wing and ensure he knew all the right people in the industry. Wallace wanted to cultivate and nurture the next generation of Brooklyn talent and was happy to help.

That said, during an appearance on Matthew Hoffa’s In My Expert Opinion podcast DJ Clark Kent explained how they met when he set up a studio session to record Brooklyn’s Finest at D&D Studios.

Speaking about Biggie’s love for the instrumental, Kent began, “So Biggie’s going crazy about this beat and this other beat, and I was like, ‘Yo, I’m going to record this tonight’ because he’s wiling for the whole session, and I’m like, ‘I don’t really wanna hear you talk about this no more’, I’m like ‘Yo come to the studio and wait outside'”. 

He continued, “You gotta trust me to go to the studio and wait outside when you’re Biggie, and you’re on fire! I go upstairs. I track the beat. Jay goes in, he does the record in like 15 minutes, and when he comes out of the studio, which was dumb, I probably should have said it before he went in. When he comes out, I’m like, ‘You gotta put big on this. He was like, ‘I don’t know that n*gga’ and Dame was like, ‘Nah fuck that we ain’t giving Puff no money,’ and I was just like, ‘What?!”

Revealing how he snuck Biggie into the studio, Clark Kent recalled, “I respected it. He was like ‘I Don’t know the n*gga!’ but I was like ‘I do.’ So I go to the bathroom, and the bathroom in D&D is in the hallway near the elevators. I go down in the elevator. I bring Biggie back up and into the studio, and Big and Jay did not say a word they just started laughing. Then Dame goes, ‘Yo Clark, you a funny n*gga!’ The day that they met, they became friends in 1.1 seconds.”

You can listen to DJ Clark Kent’s story and ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ in the videos below.