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Combat Jack Presents: True Stories Behind 25 Rap Classics

Jay-Z "Izzo" (H.O.V.A.) (2001)


Produced by: Kanye West
"I had known Kanye West from the mid-’90s, when he had been signed as a producer to Deric 'D-Dot' Angelettie's Crazy Cat Catalog production company. Kanye been hot as a producer. Early in 2001, Kanye stopped by my office. He needed and was shopping for a new attorney. He was going on and on about how his contract with Deric was over, how he was about to take his career to the stratosphere, how he had the first single off Jay's upcoming album called 'Izzo.' Kanye in person is the same as Kanye on-screen: hyped about his God-given talents, amped about his upcoming projects. Izzo, Izzo, Izzo is all he talked about, and I'm sitting on the other side of my desk thinking 'What the fuck is an Izzo?' Then he decided to drop the bomb on me about how he was going to start rapping and how he was pissed that no one took his intentions to rap serious. Like I said, I know Kanye, and when he mentioned he wanted to rap, how he was going to be 'the biggest rapper ever' I was like, 'Riiiiiiiight.'

"There was no way I could imagine dude rapping. He wasn't very 'rapper-like,' in my opinion. Which meant that him being the next biggest rapper wasn't even in the stars. Haha. I guess he picked up on how I was that next cat that didn't take him serious about becoming a rapper, so he left and hired someone else. Months later, as I was driving up to the Hamptons with my wife, Hot 97 started playing 'Izzo (H.O.V.A.).' My wife was in the middle of talking and I immediately hushed her up. Now it started to make sense, Izzo, Izzo, Izzo. Years later he went on to become one of the biggest rappers of all-time. He was right, I was wrong. But I'm not mad though. I know Kanye, and waaaaay before the money and the fame, that nigga been crazy. You can't fault me for not believing the words of a crazy man. And that is mos def a 'no shots.'"

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