Sometimes, all you can really do is wonder what might have been.
For many hip-hop fans, depending on age, Jay-Z's prime can be one of two places: the mid nineties or the early millennium, which brought out Blueprint and Black Album. While I tend to to think of Blueprint as the definitive Jay album, many bestow the honour to Reasonable Doubt, which found a young Hov emerging onto the scene with a bonafide classic. Those in the know recognize that the project has aged particularly well, with Jay arguably at his hungriest, maneuvering freely over old-school, Big Apple bangers. Should you fall into this particular camp, the following news might cause actual pain to your heart and or soul. You've been warned.
The folks over at DJ Booth recently sat down with Ski Beatz, who produced several timeless Reasonable Doubt tracks like "Politics As Usual," "Dead Presidents," and "Feeling It." Now, you've gotta remember, such classics were originally concocted in a pre-digital era, where all music had to be recorded to ADAT tapes. Speaking with the publication, Ski reveals that he once had some rare material from both Big L and Hov. "Around the time I was working for [Big] L, that’s when he passed,” he says. "Nobody heard the songs, and I did all those songs on ADAT [tapes]. Around that time, that’s when the whole Pro Tools and the whole computer thing started to come into play. I wasn’t even thinking about the future… Any ADATs I had, I just got rid of all of my ADATs and went into the computer world. I didn’t make [copies] of anything that we did."
That's not the worst of it. "That goes for a lot of JAY-Z. Before Reasonable Doubt, we had a whole album that we did, that nobody has ever heard. I did it on ADAT, and when I got rid of all the ADAT, I got rid of all the Big L stuff, all the JAY-Z stuff. Even unreleased Camp Lo music. I wasn’t even thinking.”
Where did it all go? The trash. It went to the trash. "I threw that stuff out,” he says “That’s what I did, not thinking that in the future this stuff… People would wanna hear this stuff. When you making this music, you not thinking that everybody’s gonna blow up. Now, I keep everything because you never know.” Cue the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme music.
What might that album sounded like? We can only wonder. Peep the whole interview here.