You can call Jay-Z a lot of things, but his Roc-A-Fella family says a thief is not one of them.
On Tuesday (October 8), Toni Braxton and her camp sent out a statement claiming that he bit her idea to redo the 1996 Tupac Shakur song "Me and My Girlfriend" (see "Deja Feud: Jay-Z, Toni Braxton Tracks Sample Same Tupac Song").
"I had no idea about Toni Braxton's [song]," said Kanye West — producer of the contentious Jay-Z track, "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" — on Wednesday (October 9). "She can't act like ain't nobody ever heard 'Me and My Girlfriend' before. People hear the song all the time. I can [understand her complaint] if it [was] an original song."
"'03 Bonnie & Clyde," the first single from Jay-Z's The Blueprint 2 LP, features Beyoncé Knowles and uses a similar chorus and beat to Pac's original (see "Jay-Z, Beyonce Are 'Bonnie & Clyde' On First Blueprint 2 Single"). Meanwhile, Braxton samples Pac's music and vocals from "Me and My Girlfriend" for "Me and My Boyfriend," which is slated to be the second single off her More Than a Woman LP, due in November (see "Toni Braxton Works With Gotti, Neptunes, Husband On New LP").
Braxton said her song was recorded over the summer and alleged that Jay only decided to do "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" after she played her cut for a friend at Def Jam Records. In response, Kanye West said that he brought the remake idea to Jigga after listening to a friend's Makaveli album one night.
"I popped the CD in and started playing songs," recalled Kanye, who was attending a Roc-A-Fella press conference to promote the "Paid in Full" movie and an accompanying tour and soundtrack. "I went to 'Me and My Girlfriend' and was like, 'Oh, sh--, this joint would be crazy for [Jay-Z] and Beyoncé.' He had told me a week before that he needed a joint for him and Beyoncé. I remember he called [and] said, 'We got this joint, it has to be the best beat you ever made. Just picture if you got my first single — Hov and Beyoncé — how big you would be then.'
"So I went home and called my dog E Base, who plays a lot of instruments up at Baseline [studio] for me and [producer] Just Blaze," West continued. "[E] came through. I programmed the drums in 10 minutes, and then he played all the different parts. This version is all live bass, live guitars, [live] chords on it. I brought it to Hov that night, he heard it, he thought of the video treatment before he thought of the rap. He just knew it was gonna be the one."
Roc-A-Fella co-CEO Damon Dash, who also announced the signing of longtime underground champs M.O.P. at Wednesday's press conference, defended the Jiggaman as well.
"Jay is a talented dude. I don't think he would steal anything intentionally," Dash said. "It's an ill coincidence, and things happen for a reason. We'll see what happens behind it.
"I read it in the paper, and Jay and I were talking about it this morning and it was a little funny," Dash recalled. "I know he didn't intentionally make the same record she made. I don't think he even heard it. [My] reaction is, 'Sorry, it wasn't intentional.' Jay makes records and puts them out. This sh-- is music. It's just music. We don't sit around and have a blueprint to f--- anybody's life up. The music business has been good to us. I'm not getting into any beef or nothing over music."