Just Blaze has revealed that Jay-Z’s 2001 record “U Don’t Know” was initially intended for two other New York rappers, Busta Rhymes and Prodigy.
During the recent episode of IDEA GENERATION, the iconic Hip-Hop producer shared a story regarding the beat for Hov’s track and how it almost became a collaborative effort between Bus-a-Bus and Mobb Deep’s late, great emcee.
“‘U Don’t Know'” was at one point going to be Busta and Prodigy,” Blaze divulged. “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 actually to come to the house.”
“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.”
In 2017, Just Blaze, née Justin Gregory Smith, spoke about the Blueprint beat during the Roc-A-Fella-focused A Waste of Time podcast episode. On the podcast, Smith, 45, explained that Prodigy originally spit over the production first.
“I leave to go do a session with Prodigy,” he said. “Prodigy hears ‘U Don’t Know.’ Then Busta [Rhymes] hears ‘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.”
“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.'”
However, the acclaimed beatsmith revealed that it was during this moment that he earned Jay’s respect, the Brooklyn icon telling him he was going to “make [him] a star.”
“You know how some artists, if they don’t hear something great from you within five minutes, they’re done with you?” Blaze continued. “Jay would sit in a room and listen with you for an hour, find those two, and then send you on your way. But after we did those first three he said, ‘Stick around. I want to make you a star.’ Three years later, I owned Baseline.”