Check Out Jay Z’s 20-Year-Old Demos
Jay Z was never really a coke rapper. He was also never really the club rat, the jeweler's best friend, or the menacing kingpin. What he was was a carefully constructed latticework of all those things, borrowing bits and pieces of other archetypes and putting them over the day's most forward production. Now, Mass Appeal has unearthed some of Jay's earliest demo recordings; the 11-song collection sheds some light on the Marcy rapper's early creative direction.
Picking up and setting down styles, the set is lean and thoroughly impressive--label after label may have passed on the young Shawn Carter, but "Pass The Roc" and "Rippin' It Up, Right" reveal a hungry, vital writer with unimpeachable mic skills. The latter song features Sauce Money, who plays a prominent role in Jay's mid-'90s work, with six appearances here. As a bonus, "What's In A Name" riffs on the same writing device GZA employed on 1995's "Labels."
Listen to the now-45-year-old rapper's earliest relics below: