On Blueprint, for the first time, Jay-Z staked claim to Biggie Smalls’ G.O.A.T. crown (“And if I ain’t better than Big, I’m the closest one” — “Hola Hovito”). Producer and DJ Clark Kent sizes up Brooklyn’s lyrical kings
"If Jay said he was the next best to Big, he’d be talking about being a rapper. But being an emcee—straight lyricism—there's no question; Jay always felt he was the best. When it comes to being a rapper—saying rhymes perfectly and changing the way you felt—that's Big. Jay is the best emcee; Big was the best rapper. Period.
They definitely influenced each other. Listen to [Ready To Die]; rapper-wise, it shits on everything. Get to [Life After Death], Big became a 10-times better lyricist after meeting Jay. The emcee started to come out. And look at Jay now. Who makes better songs than him? The respect Jay had for Big geared that line. Anybody that takes that wrong is totally reaching.
[Having worked with both], the most striking difference would be weed. Big smoked weed, listened to the beat, and made the record. I've never seen Jay smoke. They both were about being lyrically witty; their want to be the illest was crazy. I would tell [Biggie] about Jay like, 'Yo, my boy gets busy.' We come off tour sitting in the airport and Big plays the whole version of "Who Shot Ya?" on a box, like, 'Clark, I’m not the hardest rapper?' Imagine that." —As told to John Kennedy