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Dolla Bill, y’all!!!
Summer is officially over, and the weather on the East Coast hasn't made up its mind because of global warming or whatever. With all the talk of this summer in rap being an overall snoozefest, or at the very least being a battle between Bobby Shmurda's "Hot Nigga" and Drake's "0 to 100," I was reminded of a time when an unfinished track by Jay Z became the song of the summer one year in the town I grew up in, Paterson, N.J.
I don’t remember exactly what year it was (a combination of age and too many hot box sessions). Had to be between 1998-2002. Back during a time when you could still cop mixtapes in cassette form and then turn those same tapes into CDs by a voodoo practice called “burning.” I don’t remember what tape “Brooklyn Love” was on, I just remember that beat. When the weather was warm enough, the radios came out to lend a soundtrack to the day. Black Panasonics, yellow and gray Sonys, air-brushed ones with either Puerto Rican, Dominican, or red, black, and green flags on the speakers.
"Brooklyn Love" played all day, every day. Local DJs like Talent and Big L used the instrumental for their blend tapes, matching the beat up with a capellas from popular songs of the moment or freestyles of local acts—which was actually a blessing because the first 30 seconds of the track are damn near unlistenable. DJ Dolla Bill was down with Kay Slay, and they had beef with someone, apparently. Dolla Bill let it be known when he screamed his allegiance to the Drama King all on the beginning of the song. No one really knows what tape it was originally on, but once people heard it the demand went up. DJs threw the song on tapes and at parties. It was like a domino effect. You weren't shit if you didn't play "Brooklyn Love" at least a couple times a day.
Those sporadic knocks and bouncy lyrics were hypnotic. We would mumble like Jigga while in a cypher, playing ball, or walking to our next destination. Jay wasn’t really into simpin’ back in those days. This was Vol. 2 through Blueprint Jay Z. This was Jigga during his peak. When he was on his turning-the-car-back-around-and-dropping-her-back-off shit. He didn’t love 'em. He only loved the money. And here he was on some rough draft wondering whether he could turn a hoe into a housewife.
"Be with one man, baby girl, why can't you?"
His concerns were genuine. Most of us were in high school and had the same thoughts.
“I’m tryna forget your past, but it’s killing me. Used to being on the other side of this love triangle this ain't really me. I don't wanna judge you/They just wanna fuck you/I just wanna trust you/Let me know, baby/Am I wrong for thinking you'll change? Let me know/Or am I wrong for thinking you're the same? Let me know."
I remember waiting for the finished version, but like we tend to do in the hood, we made due with what we had. I would still dig listening to it. A coworker suggested that he should get Beyoncé to body "the chick to sing this part:"
"You can turn a good girl bad, but can you turn a bad girl back to good? I don’t know. And then she can freak some other shit..."
Hip-hop's royal family should do it for Black Love. By now you've heard the unfortunate news of Amber Rose and Wiz breaking up. Honestly, bringing this reference track to life might save them, or even the world. Maybe Chauncey Mahan has the master recording in his computer somewhere. But as of right now the LAPD is holding those recordings until the legal matter is settled.
Listen to the song on YouTube, and you'll notice North Jersey is all in comments. It's a pretty fascinating thing to see. After all these years, a rough draft can still evoke emotions, and make you reminisce about the good ol' days.
I might start a Twitter campaign to get Hov and Bey to finish this track. Paterson is just going to keep playing "Brooklyn Love" until that happens. Those are just hopes and dreams, though. Like one YouTube commenter said, "Paterson seen better days."
Angel Diaz is a Staff Writer for Complex Media. (@ADiaz456)