Jay-Z set radio station Hot 97 on fire a couple of months ago when he debuted the rhymes for his song "Dear Summer" on the air, and now Roc-A-Fella has leaked a studio version to mixtapes and made plans for an official release.
The song's producer, Just Blaze, says if you were surprised when Jay rapped the song on the radio, you should've been there when Hov rapped the record for the first time over a year ago (see "President Jay-Z Feels 'That Artist Pain,' Readies First Release Under His Watch").
"First time I heard it was when he did the last S. Carter [mixtape]," Blaze explained. "[He was rapping] to that beat for the tennis shoe commercial Green Lantern did the beat for. When he finished the song, [engineer Young] Guru went to stop the beat and Jay was like, 'Nah, keep it going.' He started spitting that rhyme out of nowhere. So it just sat there forever and then he spit it that one day on the radio. Then he was like, 'I want to do it as a song, but I have nowhere to put it.' "
Turned out Jay had the perfect outlet in his younger homie, Memphis Bleek. Back in '98 on Jay's Vol. 2 ... Hard Knock Life, Memphis had a solo record called "Hand It Down (Intro)" that served as the intro to the album. Jay decided to return the favor by letting "Dear Summer" serve as the intro to Bleek's upcoming 534 LP.
"He's just bringing it full circle," Blaze said. "The record is so crazy we was going to put it out the day after he went to radio, but Jay was like, 'Nah, chill.' Doing that record was kinda like old times. It was nobody in the room but me, Guru and Jay. I could tell it was getting to [Jay] because he had to leave. He was sitting in the studio listening to it over and over and he said, 'I'm outta here. I know what y'all are trying to do.'
"That's the running joke," he continued. "We keep trying to get him to come back. Obviously, the artist bug is still there. If it wasn't, he wouldn't even be in the booth. It's not like he needs to do the intro to Bleek's album. When you're an artist, you're always gonna be an artist even if that's not your main job anymore."
Just said there were certain beats he would save or even tailor-make for Jay back when Jay was actively recording, but now that Hov has declared retirement, Blaze said he doesn't do that anymore — or at least not as much.
"Who knows what's gonna happen?" Just said. "When I see the artist bug coming out, all I can say is, 'I see where he's going' and hope for the best. Me, as a producer, that's my favorite artist to work with. We make really good records together."
For now, though, Just has to find a new favorite. The producer has been in the lab concentrating on the debut of Saigon, the first artist on his Fort Knox Entertainment imprint. Saigon is expected to drop the album later this year.
Besides Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek's 534 also has guest spots from the Young Gunz, M.O.P. and new singer Denim.