Jay Z's Best Songs Before "Reasonable Doubt"

Mic Geronimo f/ Ja Rule, Jay-Z and DMX "Time To Build"

Circa: 1995
Producer: DJ Irv (Irv Gotti)

It’s hard to believe today, but when Jay-Z, DMX, and Ja Rule appeared on “Time To Build” from Mic Geronimo’s 1995 album The Natural, they were the no names. You could say the track, an Irv Gotti-produced posse cut with a thumping sample of Eric B. and Rakim's "Eric B. is President," was something of a turning point for all four MCs, as Jay, X and Ja would grab seats one by one at rap’s power circle, while Geronimo reverted to irrelevance.

X and Jay sound particularly hungry on the track, which was recorded amidst simmering tensions between the two due sparked by a friendly but unresolved battle in a Bronx pool hall in the early '90s. In fact, Jay actually directs several subliminals at X in his verse. The pair would collaborate often in the ensuing years (on Jay's "Money Cash Hoes," X's "Blackout," etc.) and even tour together (on '99's Hard Knock Life tour)—hell, they were supposed to form a group, Murder inc., with Ja Rule— but the relationship between them would never be smooth.

Tags: jay-z
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