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The Ladies Behind JAY Z’s ‘Reasonable Doubt’ + Music Video


Today marks the 20th year anniversary of the only one of kind, JAY Z classic, “Reasonable Doubt”. The street sweet and business savvy record holds a place in the success of the greatest rapper of all time. At the time, Jay was on the come up to settle for nothing less than fame and thriving riches.  He didn’t know it would take him all the way up from there.

In honor of Reasonable Doubt, many are showing love, but nothing much more fashionable and Hip-Hop at the same time; there is a special pop-up shop store opened to aline with the anniversary of the mega album.  Hypebeast reported the store will be operated by producer and Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder, Kareem “Biggs” Burke.  The shop is only opened for 30 days at 517 S. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, CA 90036.  Items include never before seen photos that will help set up the store as an actual apartment sculpted after Jay’s Brooklyn home.  There are collectibles including cassettes, t-shirts, and limited edition New Era hats that will be available for purchase.

In a statement Burke said, “Reasonable Doubt was the genesis.  It’s an album that touched culture and led to different businesses, whether it was a fashion house or a spirits house or movies. It created a blueprint.”  Burke spoke with Billboard, “We’re also doing it in an interactive way with these kiosks through Metroclick so people will be able to tie it back to social and they’ll have Reasonable Doubt emojis that they’ll be able to take pictures with as well.  The [store front] window is going to be themed around an old record store so it’ll be like Reasonable Doubt is dropping [that day].”

Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt released on June 25, 1996, deemed his best project, led many hit singles like, “Dead Presidents” and “Feelin’ It”, amongst other well-known tracks; but none other than the lady-assisted songs.  According to Complex, check out Combat Jack speaking on the background behind the two big hits:


“Ain’t No Nigga” featuring Foxy Brown (Second single from Reasonable Doubt released March 26, 1996)


“I remember this being the last song recorded for Reasonable Doubt. At the time, Foxy Brown was the hottest up-and-coming rapper from New York. She had been in the middle of a major bidding war between Def Jam, Bad Boy, Elektra, and a gang of other labels. Every artist wanted her on their record. I was in the old Roc-A-Fella office, down in the Wall Street area. I was also representing Jaz-O who produced and sang the hook. Damon was so effing excited about this record, like he knew this was the song that would make Jay’s record stand out from all the other dope drug rap records that New York was putting out. As the song played, he was doing that goofy ‘Dame dance’ with the mock dice roll even then. Song was dope, but I still didn’t see Jay blowing up majorly. When Dame leaked the record to club DJs, I remember being at a club with my lady when Funkmaster Flex played it. Chicks went ape running to the dance floor, and following the chicks was mad dudes, record execs, nerds, and street cats. The entire dance floor was crowded. Crazy how all the ladies made sure their backsides were grinding up against the fellas. I have a theory about a hit record which is, if a song played in a club leads to cats bringing chicks back home to hit, then that’s a hit record. ‘Aint No Nigga’ was that, because I know for sure that many cats hit chicks that night, after that song set the mood. Once I heard it and had seen the response, that’s when I finally realized Jay had a shot.”

“Inga single-handedly, in my opinion, saved Jay-Z’s career. Reasonable Doubt was kind of Jay’s last shot at jump starting his new profession. The world at large might have never heard of Shawn Carter. People don’t really put two and two together, realizing that Jay had been trying to get on since like 1987, ’88, damn near close to ten years before Reasonable Doubt!!! ‘Aint No Nigga’ was also that record that finally got Def Jam to take interest in Jay, Dame, and the Roc. Years later, it hurt my heart to see Jay and Jaz-O beefing, only because I had seen how far they’d come. That beef should have been avoided—we, and they, didn’t need that.”


“Can’t Knock the Hustle” featuring Mary J. Blige (Third single from Reasonable Doubt released on August 29, 1996)


“This song was an effing pain in the ass, as it was the beginning of the end of my run with Roc-A-Fella. Because Dame ‘dated’ Mary J. Blige briefly, right before she blew up, she did him a solid and dropped her cameo on ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle.’ This was supposed to be the first official single, and like B.I.G., Mary J. Blige was running this ‘Queen of R&B and Hip Hop’ shit. And like ‘Brooklyn’s Finest,’ the label did not want to have her associated with some unknown ‘Jay-Z’ rapper dude. In response to my request, MCA/Universal records flat-out ordered Dame to remove any and all types of Mary references from Reasonable Doubt. This was bad, mainly because Dame had spent mad money advertising how the song featured Mary, and there was even a full-page ad out in The Source!”

“I decided to pull a favor from one of my colleagues that was a top exec at Universal. Granting me a solid, he said they’d allow for Mary to remain on the album—only no singles, no videos, and no advertising. Dame was pissed, and had me set up a conference call with said Universal connect. On the call, as my connect was explaining to Dame why Mary could not appear on a single, Dame lost it and asked dude if he owned Universal. When dude said he didn’t, Dame laid into him (and me) about how I had him dealing with ‘peons.’ My heart dropped and I immediately dropped Dame from the call. Pissed that I just wasted a major favor, and having dude now totally done with me, I continued to apologize to my connect for Dame’s behavior. I damn near had to suck him off to keep Mary J. Blige on the album. Pause. Afterwards, I had a major argument with Dame, how he could go ahead and burn his bridges, but how there was no way in hell I’d allow him to burn any more of mine. You could say that that’s when we started hating each other. Switching to plan B, Dame had to replace Mary’s vocals with Me’lissa Morgan’s for the single. Me’lissa was also featured in the video. Dame did keep the Mary version on the album. It wasn’t Mary’s fault, but there was mad drama behind this song.”

While Jigga is a movement and force all by himself, the ladies made these tracks better.

Check out the “RD20” documentary released on Tidal today also.


Photo Credit(s): hiphopmyway, bossip, djhani, genius, neogaf, acrossthefader

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