NOE and Jay-Z
Key Song: Jim Jones "Byrd Gang Money"
Baltimore rapper NOE was a behind-the-scenes ghostwriter continually shunned by A&Rs until Jim Jones picked him up for his ByrdGang project alongside the original lineup of Mel Matrix, Max B, and Stack Bundles. NOE immediately distinguished himself by sounding an awful lot like Jay-Z. By the time Max B was booted from ByrdGang, NOE had become a regular presence, making his mark on the majority of tracks on the M.O.B.: The Album release. Jim Jones may have had less than genuine motivations for signing the rapper: "I ain't gonna front. [NOE's similarity to Jay] tickled me too because I knew that would just irk a person like 'Oh God!' That gotta hurt." Max B also weighed in, after his falling out with Jones, with his own brag about the rapper: "I even made the fake Jay-Z nigga sound wavy." —David Drake