The Making of Reasonable Doubt Told U So


At first, people didn’t believe.

Raised by a single mother in Brooklyn’s rough Marcy projects, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter hit the streets as a teenager and made money, a lot of money, selling drugs. But what he really wanted was a rap career. He hooked up with The Jaz (later Jaz-O), a local artist who had a deal with EMI Records, and cut guest appearances with the likes of Original Flavor and Big Daddy Kane. He made a demo tape and shopped around for a deal of his own, but labels weren’t biting.

Never short on confidence, Jay got with fellow hustlers Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke, and, using capital saved from the streets, founded a label, Roc-A-Fella Records, and set to work on a debut album. Recorded at the storied D&D Studios in Manhattan, with production from DJ Premier, Clark Kent, Ski, Jaz, Peter Panic and Irv Gotti, Reasonable Doubt was released June 25, 1996 through a distribution deal with Priority Records. The album didn’t set the world on fire right away. It sold just 420,000 copies its first year out, peaking at No. 23 on Billboard’s album chart, and wasn’t certified platinum ’til 2002. Nevertheless, it announced the arrival of Jay-Hova, the God MC, and its moments—“Dead Presidents,” with the Nas sample that would play so prominently in the greatest rap battle of all time; “Brooklyn’s Finest,” where Jay trades verses with the Notorious B.I.G.; and the hit single “Ain’t No Nigga,” which turned a 16-year-old Foxy Brown into a household name—loom ever larger with the passage of time.

Jay’s made seven more albums since, and sold over 20 million copies of them. A lot has changed. He and Jaz-O had a falling out, with back-and-forth snipes over credit and loyalty. Roc-A-Fella grew to be an empire, of course, one that would eventually span music, fashion, movies and liquor. Last year, Jay split from Dame and Biggs and took over Def Jam Records—and kept the Roc-A-Fella name for himself. People believe now.

On this 10th anniversary, XXL pays homage, revisiting the creation of a classic with those who were there. —Justin Monroe

1. “Can’t Knock the Hustle” (feat. Mary J. Blige)

Produced by Knowbody
Coproduced by Sean Cane and Dahoud

Knowbody: I made the beat at my mama’s house. It was probably like ’94. You know, Dame lived in 1199, which is right across the street from where I lived at. I know there was air [in the mix] and everything. I want to go back to doing beats like that.

The whole time after we gave Dame the beat and after he picked it, from then on we called like every week like, “What’s up? Can you find out what’s up?” They’d be like, “He’s writing.” So I don’t know if he was actually writing. Dame just told me, “Quit calling me.”

Sean Cane: I remember thinking if they really wanted to keep the beat. I remember I kept calling Dame. He was like, “Nah, he’s writing to it.” I don’t know if it was just being that they were trying to stall, but they just kept saying, “He’s writing to it. Getting Mary.” We was excited. Before we got Mary, we put Veronica on it to reference the song. Veronica, the Spanish singer, she was on Hola Records. Mary came in the day of the mix to do her vocals. She just really came in to do her part.

When Jay went in to do the clean vocals, I was like, “I think you messed up on this one. I think you could do this part here [again].” I forgot whether it was on the “nigga” or the “player.” I was like, “I think that part you could say it a little better.” He was like, “Play it back.” He’s like, “You’re wildin’.” That was in Platinum Island. That’s where it was mixed at. But it was recorded at D&D, where they paid niggas with the shoe box of money. It was either fives or ones. It was ones. We had to count it. Jay and Dame, they came with the shoe box of money. Their whole shit, coming with the logo, they was hungry. They was grinding. We sat at the studio with the shoe box of money, and it was three people counting the money. It wasn’t a lot. It was less than 10 Gs, put it like that. That same day is the day they brought in the Roc-A-Fella logo. They came in with the Roc-A-Fella logo, and were showing it to Jay like, “Yo, what you think about this for the logo?”

2. “Politics As Usual”

Produced by Ski

Ski: I was riding in the car with my baby’s mama. I had it on the oldies-but-goodies station, and I hear “Hurry Up This Way Again” by the Stylistics. I said, “Yo, this shit is crazy. If I sample this here, and chop it up right and let Jay hear it, he got to hear that shit and love it.” That same day, she took me to the old record store, and I took it home that night and chopped it up and played it for Jay the next day. He was going crazy for it. A funny thing is, at the same time, Clark actually found the sample too and did it. But I think the one I did was just a tad bit hotter. No disrespect to Clark, the one I did was just a tad bit hotter. That’s one of my favorite records to this day. I think that was the blueprint to what Kanye and Just are doing now, the whole soulful voice thing.

Jay was quick with the verses. Back then, he might have wrote two verses down on paper, but he never really wrote it down. I would sometimes glance down and see three words on his paper, but the nigga doing a whole song. I’m like, What’s he rapping from?

When I got paid for these records on Reasonable Doubt I used to go to Dame’s crib, and I remember them giving me a book bag just full of money.

I used to just get on the train. If niggas knew I had thousands of dollars in a backpack…

Clark Kent: It’s crazy, ’cause the same day that Ski brought him that beat, I brought him the same beat like an hour later. Jay was like, “Dag, I think yours is a little better.” ’Cause mines was pretty sounding, because I made it big and very clear. But Jay was like, “You know how we do it, and real is real. He gave it to me first.” So he did his version instead of doing my version of the same thing.
Me being a music business guy, I was like, “Which one’s better?” He was like, “Clark, that’s not right to switch one. He came first. And Ski is our boy.” So that’s how it was. And not for nothing, it was no love lost, ’cause Ski is my nigga. So I was just like, “Go ahead, do it. You’re right.” That’s the way we are. I don’t even know if Ski knows it went down like this.

Lenny Santiago: I remember Ski was doing a group—I don’t know if this is supposed to be out there, but whatever—he was doing Camp Lo. That was his group. He was very heavily involved with them. And actually, one or two of the songs were Camp Lo’s. “Feelin’ It” and “Politics As Usual.” I’m almost positive those were Camp Lo’s. And Jay ended up hearing them, and was like, “Oh no, no, no. I need that.” No dis-respect to them, but he just felt it so much, and he recorded it, and it ended up being his record.

3. “Brooklyn’s Finest” (feat. Notorious B.I.G.)

Produced by Clark Kent

Irv Gotti: I did not want that record to happen. I was adamantly against it. I would call Jay every day like, “No, fuck that! Don’t do this record.” I said, “What I’m scared of is you doin’ [a record] with Biggie and you comin’ off like his little man. And nigga, we can’t be owning shit if you his little man. You never gon’ get that throne.” But this nigga would call me and be like, “Nah, but Gotti, I’m tellin’ you, I’m gonna show ’em. I’m gon’ make people see that I’m that nigga.”

Jay and Big had a lot of love, but at that particular time it was very competitive. Go ’head and listen to that record—“It’s time to separate the pros from the cons/The platinum from the bronze…” Real talk, Big’s goin’ at Jay in that record. “You ain’t harmin’ me/So pardon me…” Trust me. He’s goin’ at him real tough.

Lenny Santiago: I was doing promotion at the time, and we were at the video shoot for “Dead Presidents.” If you remember, Biggie was in the video. And it was during a break, Damon was being Damon, and everyone was around talking—Jay, Big, Lil’ Cease, D. Roc—and Damon approached Biggie, like, “What’s up with that record? You gonna do something with Jay?” And Big was like, “Whatever, nigga. I’m waitin’ on y’all. Whatchu sayin’?” Dame was like, “I’m sayin’, though, we could do it right now.” At the time, Jay was comin’ up and Big was the shit. He had the biggest record out, Puff was doing his thing, and Bad Boy was on fire. So Dame was trying to put him to the test. And they kept going back and forth, and Big was like, “Man, listen, whatever, anytime, anywhere.” So Dame called Clark Kent like, “I got Big right here, he wants to do that record with Jay, whatever, whatever.” So that same night, they ended up recording the record. And Clark did the track, and it was a classic. It was just funny how it happened from being put on the spot.

Biggs: Biggie came to the video for “Dead Presidents,” and he was saying how much he liked Jay, the whole style. Dame was talking about it, and said, “Do a record tomorrow.” Him and Dame was drinking. They drank like five bottles of Cristal, shot for shot. Dame threw up outside. Dame had told Biggie to call the next day at five o’clock. I remember being in the office, and at five o’clock the phone rings. We went to the studio, and we spoke to him. We had a date, and they went in and recorded. It was funny, ’cause they came in with a pad, and Jay pushed the pad to Biggie. They’re both looking at the pad like, Go ahead, you take it. No, you take it. That’s when they found out that both of them didn’t write.
That day we went in, I think Jay laid down his whole part. Biggie lay down like a line or two, then he said he couldn’t finish, he had to go home and finish it. We had Biggie come and smoke 60 blunts. But he came back and laid down a little bit more, left again, and then he came back and finished it. We had fun the first [session]. Afterward, we all went to see Bernie Mac at Radio City Music Hall.

Dame Dash: We didn’t do all of “Brooklyn’s Finest” in D&D. We had to come back to it, ’cause that didn’t have a hook. Me and Clark Kent had to make up a hook. We had to hand it in like the next day. Me and Clark and Biggs was in the studio, then Biggs left, and we finally got it, me and Clark Kent. Clark was trying to get me on the hook. We took a rhyme from the song, “Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls, nigga, shit your drawers…,” and he was trying to get me to say it. I was like, “I’m not gonna do it.” I got Clark to do it.

Clark Kent: I just freshly came off of tour with Big. We were doing Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s [debut album], and he heard the beat and went crazy. He was like, “I want the beat.” I was like, “Nah, it’s Jay’s beat.” He’s like, “You’re always giving this guy everything.” He wanted that beat real bad. I’m leaving the studio to go to D&D to track it for Jay, and Big’s like, “Yo, I want to be on that record.” So I was like, “Yo, just come with me.” So I went upstairs, and I left him downstairs. I was like, “Big wants to be on that record. Why don’t you put Big on that record? He heard the beat. He likes it.” Jay was like, “I don’t really know him like that.” And Dame was like, “I ain’t paying him, neither.” I was just like, Ah, okay. So then I’m like, “If I get him to do it for free would you do it?” He was like, “Yeah, we’ll try it.” So I run downstairs. I go get Big, bring him upstairs, and they met each other the right way, properly. And everybody was like, “Well, if you’re going to do it for whatever…” Jay changed the verses around right there, and was like, “This is where you go, right there. You ready?” Big was like, “I can’t do this right now!”

Two months later, Big came back with his verses. Days later, I was mixing it, and there was no hook. We were supposed to do the hook when we were mixing it. And Jay says, “All right, you got to scratch something.” I’m trying to find things to scratch and nothing’s working. So I’m telling Jay, “Yo, y’all gotta come up with a hook.” Jay and Big are there. We’re at Giant Studios. Big goes, “I’ll be back, I’m going to the store.” And then an hour goes by, and he doesn’t go back. Then Jay goes, “I’ll be back.” They leave me there and never come back. So it’s like three in the morning, I decided to write a hook, and I performed the hook. That’s my voice.

To me, that’s the best collabo I’ve ever heard. You would never think that Jay’s verses were done so far in advance. It feels like they did it together. Big and Jay were that talented, they could pick up on that line and go from that line.

I’d made the beat before for one of Damon’s groups. He had a group called the Future Sound, and I remixed the record with the same beat. And Damon said, “Yo, that beat is hot, give it to Jay.” So he says he produced it because he said give it to Jay. How ridiculous is that? But whatever, it’s all good. And then the other day he told me I jerked him because I didn’t give him publishing.

4. “Dead Presidents II”

Produced by Ski

RDoubt3.jpgSki: When I first found the sample and I threw the Nas thing in there, I liked the record a lot. But it wasn’t my favorite record. I really loved it after Jay got on it. That’s what made me a fan of “Dead Presi-dents.” It was an old jazz sample, Lonnie Liston Smith [“A Garden of Peace”]. And Nas [“The World Is Yours (Remix)”]. When Nas was hot a the time, Nas’ voice was crazy. And when Jay threw in the lyrics, the first verse, the way he came on was bananas.

Clark Kent: I heard the second version when I was on the road with Big. I was playing “Dead Presidents” over and over again. The first and the second one. I was like, “Big, my boy rap better than you.” And he was sick, ’cause I kept telling him. Everybody was mad at me. On the bus, I was like the alien for even trying it. But after Big heard that, this is before they met to do “Brooklyn’s Finest,” he was like, “Clark, that dude got it. He got it. He got it.” That let me know that I wasn’t crazy.

5. “Feelin’ It” (feat. Mecca)

Produced by Ski

Ski: It was me and Geechi Suede from Camp Lo, it was my hook and everything. Jay heard it and was like, “I want that record. I don’t care what you do, I want that record.” I didn’t want to give it to him, but I had to because I knew he was going to be the man at the time. So I said, “Fuck it, take the record.” It really was me and Suede from Camp Lo, the flow and everything, the way he was flowing on it. That’s the way we was flowing on it. So he just took the whole thing. But you know, he killed it in his own way.

Continue reading this feature in the August 2006 issue of XXL (#83).

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  • Pingback: Nah Right » Blog Archive » Brooklyn’s Finest

  • Kail

    this what I’m talking about

  • KLO

    No doubt, a Classic in the makings!

  • khal


  • Pacino

    No doubt. Ill spend my last $5 for this. What day does it come out? I didnt read the fine print just the interview.

    -Pacino “I AM H.I.M.”






  • EnglandRepresent

    Classic album, absoloute classic, Biggie showed Hov up on his verse on Brookyln’s Finest though, ‘Ain’t No Nigga’ seein Biggie Smalls, the greatest – Frank White

  • Tyler Durden

    Wait a minute, I thought Jay-z and Biggie were cool for a minute..why am I now just learning that they first met for brooklyn’s finest?

  • http://n/a EAST COAST

    This album was themost influencial album of all time. Dude was and still is gifted. Y’all check “44 fours” on, jay still nice and should come back!! Although Biggie smalls kinda ate him up on Brooklyn finest, just like Eminen ate Hov up on Renegade!!! Hey champs lose some games but always bounce back!!!

  • http://n/a EAST COAST

    Great question TYLER DURDEN….the only thing that’s true so far is the fact that both emcees never used a pad ya mean? Yo that must had been sick to just be able to witness two straight freestyling rappers at their best in the studio…

  • Yung “Cee-Eye” So Fly

    Im tellin yall, this has always been your strongest feathure. The making of the albums that we all know and love. Not bad yello nigga.

  • Da King J-Hosa

    all i gotta say is fuck jay-z stealin ass nigga make ur own raps up nigga

  • MoneyMakin’Mitch

    Jay ripped Biggie on Brooklyn’s finest,”…like short sleeves I bare arms.” O-V-E-R. Jay gave it 2 Em too. Em just said a bunch of craziness and had the hot scratch sound effect. Good shit though XXL. Oh yeah, Jay hella gutta if he didn’t pay Biggie for them verses too…

  • BIG

    you been smoking crack while listening to renegade kid??? Em killed it period…. good article though I heard that Big taught J and Kim how to remember rhymes without writing in some other article?

  • ReDiCuLouS

    YO if yall read the FULL article in the mag….BIG had to come back like 2 months later to lay down his last verses on “Brooklyn’s Finest”. Jay one taked it…just like the G.O.A.T. title…he just took that shit too. Jay is my favorite rapper period. But my fav album is still “All Eyez On Me”…~

  • Chris Bowman

    Say what you want bout Jay and BIG, one things for certain they made damn good music and had the most amazing chemistry together…….

  • ThrowBacks

    This ablum is Da Anthem To Brooklyn.
    If You From BK, born and raised and u ain’t neva heard “REASONABLE DOUBT” den u mot tru fan of hip hop. Youse a clownin’ ass nigga word is bond my dude.

  • Bonafide

    Yeah i would have to give the nod to Jay Z on Brooklyn Finest because he one taked it. On renegade Em got him but he is better than eminem period. Its not even close.

  • Rahan Cotterel

    Back in 95’ and 96’ my sister used to beat me in the head with the Bad Boy and Jigga mixtapes. I mean she was a straight “Brooklyn” feen; I truly didn’t understand how ill those two brothers were…I was always more into 2pac, Tribe, and Nas but Hov is the illest of all time…and that’s a hard pill to swallow for me but that album is ridiculous and his flows and wittiness is impeccable.

  • Sayso
  • jonjon–23

    Most of yall from New York and probably very young if you think Jay Z is the best rapper of all time. He aint even the best from his own city.



  • Chi-Town Representor

    I didnt listen 2 Reasonable Doubt until about last year at the end of 8th grade.I bought the cd from a homeboy of mine who was goin off 2 college at the time. And I never regretted buying Reasonable Doubt since. My fav joints r “D’evils”, “brooklyn’s Finest”, “Dead Presidents”, “Can I Live”, “Bring it On”, “Friend or Foe”, “Cant Knock the Hustle”. I like Jay-Z much more during the beginning of his career both pre and post Reasonable Doubt album release. He was at his prime during those times. Resonable Doubt will always be dubbed as one the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.

  • lordgoldchild

    Lets not forget one thing, BIG is king and always be king, i don’t care how long it took him to lay down a verse, he still killed it (if faith have twins), Jay was heir to the throne and he ran with, much respect for that, reasonable doubt was a sleeper album, alot of people wasn’t ready for it, now they can’t get enough

  • Da King J-Hosa

    fuck jaz ol swager jackin ass nigga….stop stealin raps bitch

  • Sayso is Donny Slaughter

    I didn’t like Reasonable Doubt or his 2nd CD, but they had hits to carry them, but pretty much Jay had a 10 year run that can’t be fucked wit, now who can claim that, certainly not LL, definitely NOT fag azz Cam, BIG’s time was cut short, Pac did it, but he took it up the ass to do it, and jive ended up broke (thanks to Suge Shady)



  • jonjon–23

    Jay can put out 20 more albums and will never be better than Big. It’s just that Big has been gone for almost a decade and people tend to forget how dynamic he was on the mic. Same thing with Tupac.

  • ReDiCuLouS

    Jay is, was & always will be better than Big….the bigger you are, the harder you fall….& dat muthafucka fell fuckin HARD…lol. I love Big & all…but Jay progressed as an emcee, entertainer, clothing messiah, & overall leader of the hip-hop youth. Things done changed…this ain’t ’94 anymore….look who be around..1hunnid.~

  • Chi-Town Representor

    Biggie is better than Jay-Z HANDS DOWN. END of story

  • bonafide

    Bigg is better but tupac is king. Just listen to the brother, i noe all yall are new yockers but yall know whos the best and thats 2Pac, he destroyed biggie in that battle.

  • jonjon–23

    I wasn’t really a Jay Z fan at first but he won me over when he shitted on Cristal. He basically is saying that he is tired of them mutha fuckas makin’ money off us and hatin us at the same time..If they hate us, we aint givin’ them our money. I support him, but as a rapper he still aint better than Big or Pac.

  • ReDiCuLouS

    Yall are crazy….Jay is the G.O.A.T., Pac was for a while…until Jay perfected his shit…Big was incredible to me for a long time too…but he can’t do it like Hov….8th Wonder comin our way….HOVA HOVA HOVA!!!! Don’t hate cause you can’t relate, or that you stuck in the past…Jigga is past, present & future…listen to that “Hustlin’” Remix…still not satisfied….listen to “What More Can I Say”…”I say a Big Verse ‘I’m only big enough, my brotha’”…”Heart Of The City”…”Young’ns ice grillin’ me, oh you not feelin’ me?”…dat shit is hard…”Show You How”,”A Million”,”For Life”,”Stick To The Script”…man I could go all day….his flow is so inventive, & his lyrics are dope as crack, man. Eat nigga, let it stick to your ribs.~

  • jonjon–23

    Not really that impressed….Big only put out two albums and he stepped it up so much between his first and second it was sick. His second album was still better than anything Jay Z ever put out. Even the little Junior Mafia rap on “Get Money” tops most of Jay Z’s shit. I wasn’t really a Tupac fanatic like a lot of my friends but this nigga was the truth. He put the game down so cold, a lot of times on only one take. The biggest thing about Tupac is that you can play just about any of his classics and it is still fire. That’s because he aint no fad rapper talking about the latest fashion or cars. Ahead of his time.

  • Shizz B

    I’ve read most of these posts and some people have opinions I don’t agree with, however I respect opinions if there reasonable. But some of you really don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! And this article isn’t accurate at all. You’re telling me Biggie, KING of New York begged an unknown rapper to be on his song? Hell no!!!! Also if BIG really loved the beat, why would it take him two months to write a song? When you really like a beat, you come up with lyrics instanteously! Plus these people have conflicting comments. Clark Kents account for what went on differs from Biggs comments, Biggs comments differ from Lenny Santiago etc. I think yall need to take a closer look at this article.

  • the sun

    I cant be mad at anyone who thinks Pac was the best..He spoke on social issues that will always be relevant..Lyrically speaking Big was far ahead of Pac..just his wordplay and grammatically speaking he would use similies,metaphors,and oxymorons all in the same verse.quick quote-”Who the fuck wanna sqeeze/my desert ease make mcs freeze/your waking up in cold sweats/they just dreams…make you a classic like my first LP/beef with me is unhealthy/fuck around and get an olcer/lose your pulse or/collapse lungs/look how many gats i brung..”….and by the way don’t forget about Nas…his vivid stories rival Shakespeare…refer to “Blaze a 50″ or “Shootouts” or “The Setup” ill! …But Ladies in gentlemen Jay-z is number 1 of all time!If you disagree the reason is one of a few…1Your a hater.2Your ignorant to Hov’s work. Or 3Its just over your head…Most consitant!Dont belive me?Put all the forementioned MC’s work on the table and see who has the most Hip Hop Quotables.Refer to Hovi Baby and really listen!how about Imaginary Player!Pump it Up(freestyle)…Freestyle!Theres just way too many referencances to be made..I might as well write an article;)One more..22 toos!Genius!..Pure Genius!Anyways what it basically boils down to is….Either you get or you dont…What more Can I Say?

  • jonjon-23

    The reason is simple Sun: Jay is the only one out of the three (Pac and Big) that is still here. The other two had their lives cut short. Jay brought it lyrically but as I said earlier, he is not superior to Big or Pac. I was skeptical when Big first single “Juicy” came out, but when he dropped the other shit behind it I was a beleiver. Biggie is definitely superior on the metaphors and punchlines. I am not from the east coast, and at the time everyone from my locale was ridin’ with Pac. I recognized Big’s genius and had to give him his props. Pac is just pure lyrical genius and just gives it to ‘em raw with unadulterated realness. His lyrics can be listened to by anyone at anytime and be felt whether they love him or hate him. Jay definitely is a talent but he has superficial lyrics. By the way, you are from the East coast, am I correct?

  • Tom

    LOL@this thread. real hip hop heads know that this article is full of shit. there are at least 10 better albums that dropped in ’96 than this “classic”. smh @ ya’all falling for jay’s brainwashing.

  • jonjon-23

    True dat.

  • Rabolous

    i’d like to hustle in Jay’s way

  • Pops

    Let me break it down on why Jay-z is the greatest of all time. Put whatever your criteria is for G.O.A.T into catagories. From lyrics, to longevity, Icon status, classic albums, Contribution to Hip-Hop, Awards, Record selling, or whatever else. Jay-z may not be number one but in a few categories, But he’d be in the top 5 for every single category. All the Haters don’t want to admit it, but if you add everything up, JAY-Z IS THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME !!!!!!
    By the way, Has anyone else noticed that 22 2′s should be 23 2′s ????

  • ReDiCuLouS

    What you typin’ bout Tom? What else came out in 96 that can even compare to Reasonable Doubt? WSCG’s “Bow Down”? That was strait gangsta…but not better. Bone Thugs “Art Of War”? I think that actually dropped in ’97. Pac’s “All Eyez On Me”? Yup, that was also a classic…but this is Jay’s article. There is a lot more…but those are the ones that come to mind right now. (Snoop’s “Doggfather” was like half dope…I skipped a bunch of them songs.) So what exactly ya’ll think he is referring too?

  • ReDiCuLouS

    And I only counted 21 2′s in his 1st verse…..what da fuck? I listened to it like 5 times in a row….I guess if you count the “together” then its 22….hhmmmmmm.~

  • http://inthemaking Antoine DeMorris Nious

    Jay did his thing. I give respect when credit is do and in reading the article, he’s a man that gets my respect.

    Now you have to hear what I got for the world. If you need hip-hop or r&b I got! All you have to do is holla at the shit the move down south!

    aka. Big Geechy “The Golden Child”

  • datniggamac

    Finally someone acknowledges that Big was nicer than pac

  • Pops

    TOO much West coast dick-lickin, and TOO many niggaz on a mission
    Doin your best Jay-Z rendition
    TOO many rough motherfuckers, I got my suspicions that you’re just a fish in a pool of sharks nigga, listen
    TOO many bitches wanna be ladies, so if you a hoe
    I’ma call you a hoe, TOO many bitches are shady
    TOO many ladies give these niggaz TOO many chances
    TOO many brothers wannabe lovers don’t know what romance is
    TOO many bitches stuck up from TOO many sexual advances
    No question; Jay-Z got TOO many answers
    I been around this block, TOO many times
    Rocked, TOO many rhymes, cocked, TOO many nines-TOO
    TO all my brothers it ain’t TOO late TOO come TOgether
    Cause TWO much black and TWO much love, equal FOUReva
    I don’t follow any guidelines cause TOO many niggaz ride mine
    so I change styles every TWO rhymes…

    That’s 23 2′s for me. And notice the 2+2=4. Alot of people miss that

  • Da King J-Hosa

    seriously man how could u say jay-z was the greatest when this nigga steals raps from everybody else from tupac to biggie…u dont believe me listen to the music…he’s a fake a fraud a phony…a straight stealin ass nigga…the real G.O.A.T. TUPAC R.I.P.

  • Pops

    I don’t have a problem with people thinking Pac is the G.O.A.T. He’s just my #2. As far as stealing raps, My sister told me once she learned in her poetry class that Nas & Tupac got some of their lines from great poets and some history books. Nobody’s really Original anymore. From the beats these people rap on (sampleing), to the all these R&B singers singing songs other people wrote. Jay-z, Pac, Big and everyone else has stole in some sort of way. And Pac got some fakeness in him too. Grew up on the East Coast for most of his life in special Art schools doing poetry and standing up for blacks, Then all of a sudden going to the West and acting like he a blood. Even BIG. Biggie used to rap about having bad birthdays and no christmas, and his mother said none of that was true. Everyone is guilty

  • ReDiCuLouS

    I remember Raekwon used to despise Big cause he jacked lyrics like Trackmasters jacked beats. To me…imitation is a form of flattery. Hence…they givin’ thanks to the ones before them. I myself don’t like to use “used” lyrics in my shit…I try my hardest to keep it original…but every now & then you gotta give thanks.~

  • Styles

    My favorite track on that cd was “Can I Live” that’s a song for a hustler right there. My nigga Jay was spitting the truth on that record right there. That’s one of Jay’s best songs hands down.

  • jonjon–23

    Jay Z is a lyrical talent and I have respect for him and think he is a perfect ambassador to rap. He represents us–and rap in a respectable way–but he aint’ the best lyracist of all time. Jay Z markets himself and taps into so many different markets it’s not even funny. He wanted record sales in the south so what he do? Got with one of the most respected southern acts (UGK) and released “Big Pimpin”. For the West? He collaborated with Dr. Dre. He’s assured airplay when he drops cause the nigga will pay for it. Same thing with promotion in the mags. I aint mad at him at all though.

  • Da King J-Hosa

    look “pops” how u gonna say that pac was fake and a fraud im not saying pac and nas didnt do that but did u see the evidence no ur sister did…what im trying to say is that people consider jay-z the greatest of all time with music that he is stealin from other artist and makin money off of them…and im not just talkin about one or two songs here their is at least 10 to 20 songs shit maybe even more that i dont know about..u cant be considered the greatest when u do that…i never said pac was the best person that made poetry….look the point is that “TUPAC” will ALWAYS be the GREATEST RAPPER of ALL TIME.

  • Lastgreat1

    Yo, Whad up XXL. I glad ya’ll did this issue, cause it’s always interesting to see the circumstanses behind an artist making an album. The article only showed how nice & great Jay-z is. People always say how great big is (which he is) but it took him 2 months to give raps off the top of the head & that’s only after Dame had to put him on the spot. You can see how much Jay respect Bigg cos he could of told people years ago about that, but if he did, yall would say he’s a hater, he’s lieing & how is he trying to diss Bigg when he’s dead. Every person will always have different stories about what happened back then but 1 thing they do agree on is that it took the so called greatest mc 2 months to spit his verse and STILL was struggling to get the whole verse out, & that’s coming from people other than Jay-z. “Read the article.” Like Jay told Irv “Ima show these people, I’m that nigga” Holla Back!

  • Don P

    Jay-z is that dude.He ripped it on I love the dough with Biggie on Bigs Life After Death Album.”..skip the bull cause we matadors…being broke is childish and I quite grown.” He puts it down for NY. But Biggie is the truth too. He said” Mc’s break fast like flap jacks and bacon” on the Mr.Cee freestyle.They both did it up for they hood.

  • westcoastnurmouth

    In 96 the two illest album was from the westside connect gang and jay’s reasonable doubt. anybody who can’t give props where is due is just a hater!!!! reasonable doubt one of the best albums ever. just let it play from track 01. westcoast to the casket drop, but jay is a hard ass nigga. maybe not bigger than big but who is still around. plus who still getting paid?

  • the sun

    Like I said before…Jay is the best MC of all time…Tupac was a great Man.No doubt!But if your talking about musical Artistry I really couldnt name Tupac before I say Jay or Big….Oh and JonJon23 your incorrect..I reside in Southern California…Not that it matters..Tupac was from the East.He gained alot of followers when the west needed a hero to combat Biggie and BadBoy dominating the Hip hop scene…Just like 50 when everybody was Tired of JaRule making hit after hit…And Just like Game because everybody is getting tired of 50..Everybody loves the Underdog….Most were infactuated with Tupac the underdog(on trail for something he probably didnt do,gets shot before his sent to jail because of his Alleged crime-then hes bailed out by Deathrow Records-Then he goes after his former friend who happens to be the most visible being in Hip Hop at the time)….Not to take away from him as an artist-but take away all the Drama and just look at his music-He comes after Jay and Big….
    P.S. My apologies for bringing up those other artist in the same paragraph as Jay,Big and Pac…

    Real Love.

  • TrueLife

    Funny how time and a bunch of fools at magazines like to rewrite history. Bottom line…this album was never a classic. I could go into details about it, but that album did not change anything when it came out. Jay-Z has talent, but never really fulfill the potential he had. He wasted it, with watered down lyrics for crack rap. Raekwon first album did more than jay-z. Jay-Z does not have any song in his whole catalog that is better then young,gifted,and black from big daddy kane.
    Stop talking bullshit about jay-z album. PE dropped classic shit, De La dropped classic shit, Nas dropped classic shit, Rakim dropped class shit, Tribe dropped classic shit. DOC dropped classic shit, Outkast dropped classic shit, Jay-z had some amusing material, but never really made something which sounded monumental. I would dare say that the black album was the closest thing that had some thought put behind it. Someone with that much power, never did anything to raise the bar of what an emcee is.

  • thecloser

    JAY-Z is the best to ever come around here,excluding NOBODY!
    PAC was an mc with a lot of passion and as for BIG,most of his shit is just ok for me-i have tried SO HARD to listen to his music and try to see what some people who say he is the GOAT see,but it always comes off being ordinary to me.the way i see it is that he had the best hypeman of all time-diddy.*this is my opinion

  • anti rap/ REAL HIPHOP

    It was ALRIGHT with hopes of a bright future; until he made BULLSHIT that followed. He keeps claiming to leave that game and that would be a blessing to us all.

  • Killa Cam

    This Nigga Sucks!!!!

  • Lynn Rose

    I got mad love for Jigga but to be honest I didn’t even read the article in detail. I think we’ve seen more than enough of him in XXL and all other Hip Hop magazines. There’s only so much space to fill.

  • heltahsinsay

    Pac was the sickest mufuka there is probly about one biggie song that will touch my heart and get me a little emotional, now there is about 10 pac songs that will make me really shed a tear or two, for reals like pac was one of us, biggie was just a dude who was hot and defended himself with hits, biggie only had two cds he made pac had catalouges, we love bigg poppa dont get me wrong, but in l.a we all know who is king.

  • http://xxl brainchild

    jay is the best to ever do it…..period…..who says diferent…..

  • Wells-0 Da Great

    IM sitting in front of my compter reading everyones comments and i have to say this, i have the actual issue infront of me and its a must have for your collection, its one thing to read it on line but copping this issue is the reaal deal. its funny how doing an article on such a classic album could make he magazine that published it an instant classic too lol even the cover lets you know that its gonna be a collectors item. anyway this article is gonna enrich your life if you were a day one reasonable doubt.
    Hov is the illest way beyond a reasonable doubt for real

  • Pops

    Look “J-Hosa”, it’s obvious that you just don’t have a open mind on the topic of G.O.A.T. Just come out and tell the truth: You just don’t like Jay-z. I mean it’s people in the world that I just don’t like, but I don’t try and make stupid arguments as to why I don’t like them. You talk about Jay-z stealing peoples music. First of all, he’s not stealing “entire” songs from anyone. Second, Who doesn’t steal. I guess Pac never made money off of rapping over other artists song ideas or beats (Sarcasm). Obviously you didn’t read what I wrote the last time. I clearly said “Everyone is Guilty”. That’s why I have an open mind. I just don’t criticize one rapper as if he’s the only person that does it, like your doing. I mean you don’t even consider a person shouting out “West Side” and acting like a Blood, after growing up on the East Coast as being a fake and a fraud. You can’t even admit to that! If Jay did that, you’d be all over him, talking about how fake he is. Look if Pac was still alive doing his thing, than he’d be my #1. And I don’t count none of them “Posthumous” releases. Cause I don’t think Pac would’ve worked with half the people on them realeased songs after he died. Especially Ja Rule’s punk ass. But unfortunately Pac died, and Jay is still going. So Pac is my #2. Again, EVERYONE IS GUILTY.

  • Dipset

    jay-z’s aight but if it means war i got killas back 4 sho

  • $

    tupac is the greatest rapper ever and jay is the greatest rapper alive.

  • Big Will

    Ok, this album is a classic. I will admit that i own all of the jay-z discography. This album was not a classic at the time, but grew that way as his career and company blossomed. You take a guy who cahnges his life from crack to rap, teams up with The Notorious Big, who is huge at the time, while he is a nobody and makes a hit song. WHat other rappers can say that thy rapped with a legend when they were an unknown. I think everyone needs to stop giving this bad press. The article, as jumbled in ideas and thoughts as it was and poorly organized, was a wonderful insite into the mind(s)of those responible for the album that skyrocketed one of the most infuental rappers of our time

  • atl ga

    every body knows j is the man

  • Da King J-Hosa

    listen once again “pops” i have an open mind of who should be considered the greatest of all time i really do i have listened to all the jay shit all the nas shit biggie and so on…like u said in my own opinion i believe that pac is better than the not saying i hate jay-z even though he did piss me off when he remade 2pac’s classic me and my girlfriend song by puttin that bitch beyonce on tha track ill admit i didnt like that shit at all…i respect jay as an artist but im sorry i can not getinto his music and get off to it like everyone else does(no ofense)in my own opinion i believe that thier is no top 3 right now only two in my mind oac and big…u know they have done survey’s asking people from everywhere who is the best and guess who always comes on top “PAC” everybody loved that nigga around the world u know what im sayin…people could relate to his shit more than u can with the shit that jay makes and i guess thats why i like pac more than anyone else…i will agree with this i dont think pac would have worked with some of these artist
    aswell so i feel ya on that…R.I.P. PAC

  • ReDiCuLouS

    Pac was quite an established artist…in all actuality, his career blew up after death. Now if Jay died, it would be the same way. He would blow up, Def Jam would release countless albums of hidden material, his face would appear on more clothes than it already is, & everybody & they cousin would praise him as “the greatest”. Well…all of that has already happened, except the hidden material. 8th Wonder on it’s way!!!!~

  • Da King J-Hosa

    hey”rediculous” u is one stupid nigga to believe that pac’s careers blew up after his death. Damn u a dumb mayne…how can u say that look at all the shit he did when he was alive…next time say somthin that makes sense

  • realestnigga

    By far fuck all the haters Hova’s da great look at his longevity who can has surpass that nobody till somebody does that then come holla at your boy. and besides look how now young mcs are trying to built their labels and being CEOs and shit. Now niggas wanna have clothing and shit who started that Sean John and Rocawear. So Jigga’s really a big influence to these young Kats. Reasonable Doubt is the realest shit hating ass niggas ya’ll need to sit down and listen to the shit again, while you smokin a fat one biiiiiiiiiitttttcccccccchhhhhhhesss

  • ReDiCuLouS

    Listen “da king j-hosa”….I’m on some real shit. See for youself…Makaveli branded clothing, several movies, dvds & cds released after death, everyone wearin’ rags & shavin’ they heads, hollerin’ “Thug Life”. I been watchin’ & listenin’ to Pac since he was with DU…2Pacalypse Now is one of the hardest albums out there still (Track 5 “Violence” will blow ya speakers son). But when it all comes down to it, his career pinnacled after his demise. Say all you want, but facts are facts. His fan base is still growing after death. His tracks are timeless….more so than Big, but I dunno bout Hov. Jigga on it, from beginning to end. RIP Tupac. Fuck tha haters!!!!!

  • young-money91

    reasonabledoubt turned the game out to a new era of rap. scince then every rapper that came out hustled scince then every rapper that came outhad columbian connects but most niggaz make shit up to sell this shit here was real this shit here is what makes jay betta than pac and big even if he fell off after this album he would still be one of the greatest and reasonable dout will still be the lueprint to how to be sucsessful in rap

  • skep0ne

    whoa..! Jay is def going down in the records…

  • MURDaHofSWaT

    Classic… ’nuff said…

  • Antoine

    All of y’all arguing about who is the greatest, listen to Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night and chill the fuck out.

  • JiggaHindu

    Ya boy Jay ripped it on the whole project. All day baby, All Day. “He’s the “Best” there is, the “Best” there was, and the “Best” there ever will be.”. And thats all I got to say about that.

  • Mrs.Jones

    Its tha ROC-baby!!!

  • The Chancellor

    ” mannerisms of a young bobby DeNiro/
    spit spanish wisdom in the whip with dinero

    Shit was bananas and pac wasnt hittin it with punchlines and double entendre’s and shit like that and this nigga wasnt even writin shit!



  • Pingback: » What About Nas? - XXL

  • Alweezy

    so what if biggie took two months, the versus he laid down were classics! he killed jay on it! PERIOD!

  • B

    look its like this…
    jay is ILL you cant touch him ppl miss out so much of his best lyrics n punch lines like “you draw…better be picasso…you know? the best…cause if that is not so…GOD BLESS!” and “i mack like godlie, go back like the oldie…but the goodie, pulling RnB bitches wearing hoodies”

    and whoever says reasonable doubt aint a classic is on CRACK!!!!!!!

    The best lyricist has 2 be split between 3 ppl thoo thats BIG, Jigga and RAKIM just lissen to the 18th letter or its been a long time.

    The BEST STORYTELLER is NAS full stop

    PAC was more of a street poet than a lyracist though i would say hes a storyteller too but just cnt create that picture nas does…but i still think hes number 1…he could do it all and in a time when ppl were more concerned with money, clothes n hoes he rapped about what was real n made a success of it…

  • Ogizzie

    Y’all wanna hear REAL rhymes instead of fake ass shit.

    Listen to Slim Shady LP & Marshall Mathers LP.

    Jay-Z is a great Business man but not the best rapper,
    2Pac was the best in my opinion.
    And after Pac died Shady took over and after Em’s Encore album rap died.

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  • brooklyn

    this is a pointless argument.. but if u wanna compare alll aspects of rap.. jayz wins easily… 2pac is close becuz he was real and commercial the same time…but jayz is like that basketball ball player that only flashes real talent sometimes but usually plays around mostly he is actually the most natually talented

  • Yasir

    Reasonable doubt is the best rap album that came out in the 90′s.. No one can fux with it!

  • G.$.C. Nigga

    Crack nigga



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