Throughout hip-hop's history, crews and labels have always been at the forefront. From Bad Boy and Death Row Records to prominent labels today such as Maybach Music Group and G.O.O.D. Music, some of the most iconic moments in the culture's history have been connected to specific groups within hip-hop. The most iconic label in hip-hop's history is arguably Roc-A-Fella Records, who from the late 1990s through the mid 2000s dominated the streets and radio on the backs of artists such as Beanie Siegel, Freeway, Cam'Ron, Kanye West, and label head Jay Z.
Last week on Wednesday, July 26, key members of the label's history sat down with ItstheReal's Jeff and Eric Rosenthal for a two-hour taping of the 130th episode of A Waste of Time. Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua, Lenny Santiago, Young Guru, Just Blaze, Freeway, Young Gunz, Jim Jones, and Chaka Pilgrim were apart of a live interview and as you can imagine, there were jewels that hadn't been disclosed to the public before.
This week, ItstheReal uploaded the audio from the event to their SoundCloud. Here are five crazy revelations we learned from the episode, and be sure to tune in for yourself below.
Roc-A-Fella amusement parks were almost a real thing
Kareem "Biggs" Burke touched on this during the podcast, explaining how Dame Dash, a co-founder of the label, had ideas of an eventual Roc-A-Fella themed amusement park. "We talked about having a Roc-A-Fella Adventure: The Roc Venture," said Burke. He also stated that if the amusement park idea had been seen through, the first one would have been in Harlem. As ambitious as this may sound, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise when connecting it to Dash, who has never been one to be shy about his goals and aspirations.
The four biggest records from Roc-A-Fella may surprise you
When you think of Roc-A-Fella, you almost immediately think of Jay Z and who can blame you, he's arguably the most successful rapper ever. But when Biggs named his four biggest records to come out of Roc-A-Fella, he didn't name a single record from Hov. The four tracks he rattled off were Cam'ron's "Hey Ma" and "Oh Boy," both of which would reach the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts and Young Gunz' "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" and "No Better Love."
Just Blaze was discovered around the Street Is Watching sessions
Hip-Hop detailed that he actually discovered Just Blaze, the legendary producer behind a lot of classic Roc-A-Fella Records, during a studio session for Streets Is Watching. "I was working with a group called Diamonds In The Rough and they came to me and said they had a producer who got beats like Swizz Beats for $5,000 and at that time Swizz cost $50,000," said Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop was looking to manage producers and Blaze was the first one brought on to Roc-A-Fella, even before Kanye West. Blaze would go onto to produce on Amil's debut album, All Money Is Legal, while also detailing how he introduced Sony Music to Pro Tools. From this point forward Blaze would go on to craft the sample heavy sound that would define Roc-A-Fella Records.
Kanye West's beat tape for The Blueprint initially had beats that weren't meant for Jay Z
The Blueprint, arguably the magnum opus of Jay Z's career, is known for its genre shifting production as much as it is its witty lyrics and bars. Kanye West was one of the main producers involved in the production of the album, along with Just Blaze, and his initial beat tape had songs from the album that weren't kinetically intended for Jay. "'H to the Izzo' was for Ghostface. 'Heart of the City (Aint No Love)' was for DMX. 'Takeover' was for Beanie Siegel. Cam got 'H to the Izzo' too," said Hip-Hop. All standout tracks from the album, it's impossible to imagine The Blueprint without these songs, especially considering the impact.
If Jay didn't get "Takeover" or "H to the Izzo" would there be an infamous Summer Jam screen spectacle or Michael Jackson appearance at Summer Jam in 2001? Probably not. Luckily for us, the final versions of those tracks belong to Jay Z, producing great moments in hip-hop history along with one of the genre's greatest records.
Freeway's "Flipside" was initially one Of the first Jay Z and Beyoncé's collabos
Freeway's debut album Philadelphia Freeway is truly one of the great albums to come out of Roc-A-Fella, spawning hit records like "What We Do" and "Flipside." But while discussing the album's impact, Just Blaze dropped a bombshell revealing that "Flipside" was originally intended to be a Jay Z and Beyonce record. Turns out Freeway and Blaze decided to keep the record and it became one of the biggest records of Free's career.