Brooklyn’s Finest was actually a solo Jay-Z song originally titled “Mr. Nice Guy”. That is why Jay-Z raps “no more mister, nice guy…..” as that was the start of the verse from the original song, and Jay-Z kept it.
And speaking of Brooklyn’s Finest, the second version of Brooklyn’s Finest, the first one being the solo Jay-Z version, then the next version is the original version with Biggie Smalls, is different than the final retail version. Faith said that months before Reasonable Doubt was released, that Biggie played the song for her in the car and there was no diss line of her and 2Pac.
The original release of “Reasonable Doubt” was a limited independently released album. With the success of Hard Knock Life and Volume 2 (which went 5x platinum btw), Rocafella Records officially re-released the album nationally in the spring of 1999, due to the high nationwide demand for Jay-Z material.
The entire creation of “Politics As Usual” lasted less than 12 hours. Ski Beatz heard the original sample in the car on the radio, realized that it could make an amazing beat so he ran to the record store, bought the Stylistics album, went home, chopped up the song and then handed the song to Jay-Z the same day. Jay loved it from the first time he heard it.
“Feelin It” was actually a Camp Lo song. Camp Lo completed the song with the “Feelin It” beat, but wasn’t finished recording there album. Jay-Z asked to buy the “Feelin It” beat, and since it hadn’t been officially released by Camp Lo, Jay-Z used it first.
Reasonable Doubt was not named a classic album by any publication/journalist back in 1996. It wasn’t until years later, and after HOV sold millions and millions of albums that many people bumped up their critique of the album. Back in 1996, the source only gave it 4 mics, many non-rap magazines gave it 3 stars and most rap magazines (not named The Source) gave the album a B/B+ at best. No one thought it was the perfect album that fans today think it is.
Memphis Bleek’s most first and most famous verse he rapped, “Coming Of Age”, was not even his verse. Bleek has admitted after years that Jay-Z wrote the verse for him and he was only the performer.
The video for “Ain’t No Nigga” which was shot in Miami, was one of the very first times that Jay-Z and Biggie had hung out outside the studio. Even though the two had recorded “Brooklyn’s Finest” and were both from Brooklyn, the two hadn’t ever hung out before then. The “Aint No Nigga” video was shot just days after the two became friends.
There are actually two different versions of “Can’t Knock The Hustle”, the Mary J. Blige version and the non-Mary J Blige version. Blige’s record label was not happy with her appearing on a newcomer’s and mostly unknown rapper’s album. Her label thought she was too famous of an artist and didn’t want her on the album. Blige, however had already recorded the opening track “Can’t Knock The Hustle” with Jay-Z, and Dame Dash was already promoting the song with Mary J. Blige. Her label eventually agreed to her being on the album, but did not allow her to appear on the official single or music video. So, the non-Mary J. Blige album version is the single version with singer Me’lissa Morgan.
The first music video recorded for the album, which was also the album’s lead single, “Dead Presidents”, was not the first solo Jay-Z video ever recorded. “Dead Presidents” happens to be the 3rd solo Jay-Z video ever shot, after “In My lifetime” and “I Can’t Get With That”.