On the same day the towers fell, JAY-Z coincidently released an album that would not only help New York City rise like a phoenix but also further etch his face onto hip-hop's Mount Rushmore. While fans can look back on this album in triumphant fashion, The Blueprint sparked an internal war within rap that coincided with America's occupation of Iraq. In hindsight, there are a lot of people that will put JAY-Z's "Takeover" ahead of Nas' "Ether." But when it dropped, it was hard to say Hov won the battle.
"The Blueprint showed me how selfless Jay was. This was the time when 'Takeover' was out and 'Ether' and everything. The energy was kind of crazy," Lenny S. described. "I was so mad, I wanted to cry... I was angry. I knew Jay is the best, Jay’s the best rapper, he’s the best businessman, he’s the best entrepreneur. In my heart I felt he was the best."
Lenny S. went on to detail how he vented this frustration to Roc-A-Fella's upper management including Hov and the label's co-founder, Kareem "Biggs" Burke. Most people in Jigga's position would have added to Lenny's sentiments or even told him that he shouldn't be upset because he was merely an A&R and not the face of the company. Yet, Hova took this opportunity to restore his troops' morale.
"I was furious. Two-ways were out, and I sent a two-way to like Jay and Biggs and a couple of us, and I guess you could tell how infuriated I was. I was like, 'Fuck this, fuck the radio, fuck Hot 97.' I went crazy. And Jay was like, 'Call me,' he continued. "Jay’s on the phone with me, convincing me that this has to happen in life. We have to go through ups and downs... He just spent 15 minutes convincing me why this was necessary and that it’s alright. This man just took a loss. A public loss to a rival rapper. And he’s convincing me... of like why I need to be OK with this and let it go and not take it to heart... Jay took the time when he could have been selfish, or pissed off, and took the time to school me. And that’s from The Blueprint."
You can read the full oral history with Guru, Hip Hop, and more here.