On the real, this “Jewels from Irv” five-part series is Christmas come-early. His latest offerings from his sit-down with Complex are a lot to digest, so bare with me as I try to wrap my head around all of this.
First off, DMX’s success was as big a factor in Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life as Jay’s misstep with Vol. 1. “This is my opinion,” Irv Gotti said. “My truthful opinion though. Jay Z, he made Reasonable Doubt, which is one of the greatest rap albums ever. Biggie died. He went and ran to the Biggie formula. So, he figured ‘I’ll get all them great records they was about to give Big.’ But that wasn’t his energy. He made that album. He didn’t f*ck with none of us. It was a Bad Boy, Hitman album. ‘Sunshine,’ ‘You Belong To The Streets,’ all of that bullshit. Jay especially, he looked and seen what I did with X and was like ‘Woah, holy shit. That shit worked.’ His Vol. 1 album sold like platinum. X comes out and sells 5.”
This leads to Jay hanging with Irv more and Puff less, taking “Can I Get A…” from Rule and looking for the sound that made X the hottest dude out. “He’s looking for shit,” Gotti said. “He’s in my office a little bit more now…Then what helped sell that album, ‘Money, Cash, Hoes.’ ‘Money, Cash, Hoes’ was Jay coming around after X is the biggest nigga in the world and saying ‘Let me get some Swizz Beatz’…They always had friction. Because they battled and X like hated him. Jay really didn’t give a fuck, but Jay—they was always on some competitive shit…That session for ‘Money, Cash, Hoes’ was ill.”
So here’s the irony of this whole situation: “Can I Get A…” was Ja Rule’s record. He gave it to Jay and it helped Jay blowup. Irv and Ja always felt that if they’d kept that joint and put it on Venni Vetti Vecci, it would’ve sold more than two million. Ja was always in his feelings about that, and it was one of the things that led to him making the female-driven records that blew him up. If Ja never makes those records, maybe 50 doesn’t have such an easy target. Which brings me to the second video where Irv explains how they should’ve responded to the G-Unit general.
“It was time for me to make an album,” says Gotti. “I know this may sound crazy, but I should have Dr. Dre’d it. Have Jay, X, and Ja write all my shit, have them featured on the album, and make like a Chronic album.”
Yeah, Gotti was going to put out a record. What’s crazier is that it would’ve been on a Murder Inc. 2 label, headed up by Rule with Gotti as his artist. Why you ask? Aside from the fact Sony was going to pay him and Ja $5 million each for the album, it would’ve been their way of responding to 50 in a way he never expected.
“Once we set up that foundation [making the female-driven records] and then he went back to do hard records, niggas wasn’t responding to it,” said Gotti. “It was like, ‘Nah, stay in your lane. You should just do what you do.”
So had he come out with his own version of The Chronic, that’s where the diss records would’ve been and they would’ve come from someone, like Gotti, who wasn’t already defined. “I would’ve just made some raw shit, and it would’ve helped the Murder Inc. foundation.”
Rap beef during that period was like Streets of Rage where you had to fight a few underbosses before you could get to the man. Nas didn’t go straight to Jay. He tossed a couple shots at Bleek first and THEN went to Jay. Ja never had any underbosses to toss at 50 and keep him occupied, a fact Gotti is well aware of. But what if Cadillac Tah or Black Child were big enough stars where they could’ve taken some of that heat? What if Ja didn’t turn down Sony’s offer and Irv went through with the album? Better yet, what if Ja had held on to “Can I Get A…”?
We may not even be having this conversation.