Producer: Jaz
Album: Single
Label: Payday Records/FFRR Records

You've heard the story countless times: No one wanted to give Jay-Z a record deal, so he was forced to create his own label. The single for “In My Lifetime” was one of Jay, Dame, and Biggs' first experiments in pedaling music, and was mostly sold the old fashioned way: hand-to-hand out of the trunk of Damon Dash's car.

“In My Lifetime's” questioning of life's meaning would generate enough buzz for super-indie label Payday Records to step up and offer the hungry upstarts a single-only deal. As fate would have it, Jay and Payday never saw eye to eye, so the original Roc Boys took their earnings and created their own imprint, Roc-A-Fella Records.

So you can look at the “In My Lifetime” single as the seed that planted the Roc. Although the record didn't appear on either of Jay's first two albums, it did find a home on the Streets Is Watching soundtrack some years later. But it was worth the wait: Big Jaz's remix was far superior to Ski's original.

Looking back, it's almost unfathomable that no label was interested in signing Jay-Z. Thankfully he didn't spend an entire lifetime waiting on one to do so. More than anything else, this record proves that if you want something done, sometimes you've gotta do it yourself.