Moments after DJ Kay Slay released his gritty cut “Free Again” featuring 50 Cent and Fat Joe, the Drama King explained to XXL the concept behind the song and how exactly the former rivals came together on wax.
“[When] Fat Joe went away, I was one of the people that kept playing his records like he never left. And that’s always been me. When he came home he said, ‘Slay, I got this mean verse. It got a Raekwon sample on it. I’m [going to] give it to you. You can do whatever you want to it.’ I said, ‘I can do whatever I want to do with it?’ [Laughs] ‘Yeah, whatever you want to do with it.’”
DJ Kay Slay, who’s been friends with both Fif and Joe since before the money, saw this as a rare opportunity to help two of New York’s famed MCs put the culture first by the letting the past fall to the wayside.
“I feel like as far as New York hip-hop, it needed to be done. Something maybe the New York cats would respect one another. And as far as the whole culture is concerned, it needed to be done. Again, they call me the Drama King right? But that was something—a moniker I used for great battles like Jay and Nas. Things and situations that I was apart of that I know would be hip-hop. I’m not advocating people killing each other over no music. For that, they can stay in the streets. That was the reason why I felt like maybe I do this, it could show some of these other cats that got these little gripes that maybe they could put it to the side. This is hip-hop, this is not the street. Don’t confuse the two because every time a rapper infuses it, he wines up getting incarcerated. Cause he wants to live out what he’s talking about. You can’t do that.”
But Slay didn’t only do it for the culture or New York hip-hop, he also did it as token of respect to his late friend and former music exec, Chris Lighty, who once expressed wanting to see both rappers unite again.
“They was a longtime friend of Chris, so me having knowledge of that, I tried my hand,” explained Slay. “I went to 50 and I said, ‘Look, 50. Joe gave me this joint. I [would] like you to get on it.’”
When 50 was told Joey Crack had no reservations about what was done with the track, he hopped right on it. “I’m on that,” said 50. “Yeah, I’m on that Slay. It’s your last album right?”
And the rest is history.—Marjua Estevez