In the late 1990s, there were few rappers bigger than [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist], [artist id="1325"]DMX[/artist] and [artist id="508987"]Ja Rule[/artist]. Separately, each artist crafted a catalog of hits, toured the country and sold millions of records.
Now, imagine a supergroup comprised of the three. Well, that was Irv Gotti’s vision, but the three alpha males only recorded a handful of songs and just couldn’t get it together.
“Jay and X did not like each other at all. And it was always competitive,” Irv revealed when he appeared on Wednesday’s “RapFix Live.”
DMX has recently voiced his disdain for Hov, but in the late 1990s, it appeared that the two were on a unified front. They frequently collaborated and even toured together, but according to Gotti, things weren’t always as they seemed.
It all stemmed from an early battle, circa 1994, between Hov and the Dog, years before any one of them broke through. Though DMX was used to winning most of his battles decisively, nearly every account of the showdown revealed that it ended in a tie. “X hated Jay because it was the one battle that he said it wasn’t absolutely sure in everyone’s mind that he won,” Irv said.
The quiet feud even spilled onto collaborative records. In 1995, Jigga, X and Ja Rule all appeared on Queens, New York, rapper Mic Geronimo’s “Time to Build” track. By the time Hov got to the studio, DMX had already laid down the song’s closing verse — a top honor for any rapper. “Jay goes, ‘OK, he’s closing the record? Yo, you think he’s better than me?’ ” Gotti recalled Hovito asking.
Gotti remembers Jay feeling slighted, and in retaliation, he aimed his verse — which he wrote on the spot in 10 minutes with no pen or pad, directly at DMX. There were key lines in Jigga’s verse that Irv believes were direct references to the original battle between the two titans: “F— what you n—as kickin’ on the mic/ Chicken like you don’t know what an ass whippin’ feels like.”
“His whole verse, he’s sh–tin’ on my man,” Irv said of the “Empire State of Mind” MC’s bars. “Now, X got problems with me.”
DMX and Jay-Z continued to collaborate, and alongside Ja Rule, they recorded “Mudergram” in 1998 and “It’s Murder” a year later, but nothing else as a trio.
“With those three guys, I felt very special,” Irv said. “Here it is, in hindsight, three guys that were really at the top of their game at one time or another, and they all my friends.”
Do you wish Jay, X and Ja had recorded a full album together? Let us know in the comments!