Jay-Z has had many hits over the years. From ‘Dead Presidents’ to ‘Hard Knock Life’, the Brooklyn native has been topping the charts since the late 1990s. However, one of the biggest tracks that put him on the map was ‘Big Pimpin’ featuring UGK, the final single from Hov’s 1999 project, Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter.
Released in 1999, Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter has an unfathomable amount of producer credits. For the record, Carter called upon DJ Clue, DJ Premier, Rockwilder, Swizz Beatz and most importantly, Timbaland. Born Timothy Mosley, Timbaland was fresh on the scene at this time and was red hot. Known as the ingenious producer behind Missy Elliot’s Supa Dupa Fly and Aaliyah’s One In A Million, the late-’90s saw Timbaland in high demand. However, he had plenty of time for Carter.
For the beat of this single, Timbaland sampled ‘Khosara Khosara’, an instrumental flute piece performed by Hossam Ramzy and composed by Baligh Hamdi in 1957. However, Jay had to overcome many obstacles to get UGK to collaborate with him.
Jay-Z was a household name in the late-1990s and a huge UGK fan. As such, he wanted them on his alum. However, when he called up Bun B (Bernard Freeman), the Texas lyricist didn’t believe it was him and hung up the phone.
When Bun B finally agreed to record the track, he told his late partner in crime, Pimp C (Chad Butler). However, Butler didn’t want to collaborate with Jay-Z as he had refused to fly to Houston the year before when they were meant to collaborate on the 1998 single ‘Just A Week Ago.’
When Freeman finally won him over, he presented his partner with the beat. Unfortunately, he hated Timbaland’s flutes. In a Complex documentary about the late rhymer, the Houston producer Mr. Lee recalled Pimp C saying, “Man, what the f*ck is this sh*t? What the f*ck is this? They gon’ send me this garbage-ass motherf*ckin’ trash can-ass beat? To rap with Jay Z?!”
Following another persuasive rant from Freeman, Butler decided to record to the instrumental but was not interested in flying to Trinidad to record the music video as he was insistent that his new Mercedes had to feature in the video, which was in Miami.
As such, the entire production was moved to Miami to accommodate Pimp’s demands, and he absolutely stole the show. It was, of course, the first time America got a whiff of the ‘Pimp C’ image. All of the above could have prevented the iconic hit from being made. However, Hov managed to overcome it, and now it remains one of his best tracks.