Last month, Jadakiss celebrated the 10-year anniversary of his debut solo LP, Kiss the Game Goodbye. Though it featured a handful of bangers including the punchline-heavy “Put Ya Hands Up” and “None of Y’all Betta,” featuring Styles P and Sheek Louch, the record is most memorable for its Alchemist-produced street anthem, “We Gonna Make It,” also featuring Styles P.
Built from a sample of Samuel Jonathan Johnson’s 1978 song, “My Music,” the single helped Jada earn a platinum certification, established the Yonkers lyricist as a rap star in his own right and made Alchemist’s stock skyrocket. He remembers making the track like it was yesterday.
“The day I made it, [DJ] Premier came to my crib and I was afraid to play him the beat because it had a clap in it and I didn’t know if he’d like the clap in it,” Al tells XXL. “But I played him the beat and he was like, ‘Yeah, I can rap to this.’ And if you know Premier, he’ll say that if he likes a beat; he’ll be like ‘Yeah, I can rap to this.’ He doesn’t rap, but he just likes to say that.”
With Preme’s cosign, Al began shopping the track. Though he can’t remember the first MC who heard the instrumental, he does recall playing it for two New York giants: Jay-Z and Nas.
“Hip-Hop [former A&R at Roc-A-Fella Records] is my man and I used to go over there [Baseline Studios] and play beats,” the producer recounts. “One day, I was there, Jay came in the room, heard it—and, you know, that’s the regular occurrence if you’re going to go to Roc-A-Fella at that time and play beats. If he wanted it, he would have been like ‘Yeah, I need that.’”
Nas, on the other hand, did show some interest in the track, but the Queensbridge lyricist didn’t move fast enough. “He had it,” Al says, acknowledging that Nas came close to recording on the heater. “I tracked it for him and it never happened. I don’t know what happened.”
Shopping the beat eventually sparked controversy. Upon the release of Jadakiss’s single, West Coast wordsmith Ras Kass took issue with Alchemist selling the track to Jada because he’d already recorded a song of his own titled, “Home Sweet Home,” over the same instrumental. Ras had planned on the cut being the lead single to his forthcoming LP, Van Gogh, but Al reportedly began shopping the track again when his attempts to receive the second half of his payment from Priority Records—Ras’s label at the time—had been unsuccessful.
A feud ensued and Ras dissed Alchemist on “Kiss U”—a song that would later end up on the unreleased Van Gogh. The beef has since been squashed. “That’s my man,” Al assures. “We play poker all the time. We go eat. We have like bowling nights and shit. He shows me the ill sweaters to cop. His sweater game is up to par., I fucks with Ras Kass. He knows, that’s my mans.”
Ras’s version was solid. And God knows Jay and Nas most likely would have murdered the track, which is exactly what Kiss and Ghost did. “It found the right home eventually,” Al shares. “Jadakiss and Styles P killed it.” —Carl Chery