Say it ain’t so — Jay-Z biting Lil’ Romeo?
Jay’s new song, “H to the Izzo,” uses the same sample of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” that powers Romeo’s #1 single “My Baby,” but Jay Hova’s newest beat maker, Kanye West, says he’s not sweating people analyzing similarities between the two cuts.
“I thought about that, but are they gonna compare [“H to the Izzo”] to that Mya and Blackstreet song [“Take Me There,” which used the same sample]?” said the beatsmith, who supplied Jigga with the song’s track. “My beat is based off of underground elements. It’s not based on ’We gonna take this old song and we gonna make some money off of this.’ The way I flipped it was so ill.”
West, like many who watched Tuesday’s live broadcast of the BET Awards, was shocked when Jigga debuted the single as part of his performance.
“I was on the phone with my girl, and she just started screaming, and my two-way [pager] started blowing up. I was just thinking, ’Damn.’ That was like the time in the [movie] ’Five Heartbeats’ when they heard their song on the radio and they start running through the crib. If they ever do a movie about me, that’s one of the spots they’re gonna have to put in the movie. That song is really gonna change my life,” he said.
West — who originally created the song’s soundscape for a radio promo that Common and Carl Thomas were supposed to perform on but never did — said he’s already seen his life change since Jay’s Dynasty: Roc La Familia 2000 came out last year.
“Until an artist of that caliber co-signs for you, the industry doesn’t believe in your skills,” he said. “Now they know.”
Using his trademarked sampling of spiritual wails to invoke feeling, West sat behind the boards for the pensive posse cut “This Can’t Be Life,” which featured Scarface, Beanie Sigel and Jay all disclosing personal anxiety while keeping optimistic. “The music is so soulful, it forces people to have a more positive subject matter,” West said.
Mentored in his early days by producer No I.D., West has recently completed tracks for Trina, Cam’ron, Nas, Ludacris and Cris’ “What’s Your Fantasy” co-star, Shawna.
“I also rap, so I be wanting to save beats [for myself],” said West, who is pursuing a record deal with several labels. “But a certain caliber of rapper, I be like, ’You can have it. You probably could do something bigger with it.’ That helps me to blow my name. The song I did with Nas is ’You Can’t Stop Me.’ It’s one of my favorites because it uses singing samples but it’s real bouncy.”
West also has production credits on two of Sigel’s cuts on The Reason, which hits the streets Tuesday. It was when he was submitting tracks for Beans’ album that he once again caught Jay’s ear and was recruited for four songs on The Blueprint, including “Ain’t No Love Up in the City,” which may feature R. Kelly.
“It makes you real spoiled to have [an artist] finish a song as quick as him,” said West, who was astonished when Jay once completed a song in less than five minutes. “He was surprisingly receptive. He was way easier to work with than muthaf—ers who don’t sell no records.”
Now that his work is being recognized, the 24-year-old, who admits his style is somewhat derivative of P. Diddy’s beat-jacking MO, said he’s living by the Bad Boy motto “We won’t stop.”
“I make beats every day out of fear of not being hot no more,” he said. “I’m only as hot as the last beat that I did.”