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Time To Build: The Making Of Jay Z’s ‘Blueprint’

3) “IZZO (H.O.V.A.)”
Produced by KANYE WEST

JAY-Z: You can’t deny Michael [Jackson; “Izzo” samples the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”]. It’s just too easy right there. I remember having
the hook, [and] it was too repetitive. Telling Tone, “Man, this record could be something, but the hook—‘H to the Izzo’—sounds like the verses. It just keeps going. It needs something to break it up.” Tone was like, “Put the girl under it.” The best and the worst mistake we ever made—shit. And I was like, “Yo, you a genius. That’s why you in here.”… I got sued messing with Tone on “Izzo,” because he had a girl with him who we put under the hook. She said she created that hook.

LENNY S: That was one of the most stressful records of [Jay’s] life. Of his career… We didn’t give “feature” credit to artists who aren’t
known celebrities. Like, you “feature” Mary J. Blige. But if I get some random girl from my block, it’s “additional vocals.”

YOUNG GURU: I was mad at “Izzo.” When I first heard “Izzo,” I was like, “Oh, Michael Jackson sample. This is kinda corny.” But that was
my time when I really understood. Jay broke it down to me. This had become the key to his success, and he was just like, “Guru, I could rap forever and please you.”… It also speaks to my relationship with Jay. Jay understands exactly my viewpoint and who I am and what I represent. I’m the underground hip-hop guy. I hate to even use that word, but I don’t really like too much commercial hip-hop that’s formulaic, because it just feels stale. So there’s times when Jay
makes certain kinds of records, like a “Bonnie and Clyde” or an “Izzo,” but it’s [like] that verse [on “The Bounce”] where he says
these are the songs that “keep the registers ringing.”

GEE: [Cam’ron] was working on the track at the time. Our system was really on some new-age Motown. We treated it no differently than when
Berry Gordy used to have his producers cook up the beat, and then he gives it to his writers, and the best song wins in that case. We never
have a situation where we earmarked a track for that one artist. The beat CD was the beat CD. It wasn’t just a Jay CD or a Cam CD or a
[Beanie Sigel] CD.

JAY-Z: That record was maybe the last one. I was touching it, then I’d leave it alone. That record was, like, a process. I remember… I don’t
smoke that much… Well, my man who sold weed and shit came, and he said, “Man, you need—man, just smoke some weed.” I smoked some weed,
and that’s how I finished “Izzo.”

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