If not for one of
When DJ Toomp, co-producer of "Valley of Death," first heard the track, he thought about one MC — one rapper perfect to spill rhymes all over the record: Jay-Z.
"I built an empire so crazy down here," DJ Toomp said via cell from Atlanta. "Me and some of my other producers are putting our heads together. I been doing it for 22 years all by myself. At the end of last year, I decided to go round up some producers — we all put our heads together on that joint and that's what it was.
"They brought [a rough version of the 'Valley of Death' beat] to me and I ended up fattening it up," Toomp, credited as the record's producer, explained. (Kevin "Khao" Cates co-produced.) "I heard the whole idea and originally I was gonna give that to
A mutual friend of Ross and Toomp's convinced the producer to let the Big Boss hear the track before Hov, and Toomp caught Ross' ear during a listening session at his house.
"We went to Ross' crib in Atlanta. I played that beat and he lost his mind," Toomp recalled. "I played a few beats, but that particular one, he was like, 'That's it, man.' We was just kicking it. ... He played a few joints off the album to show me what direction he was going and immediately I knew what to give him based on what's on his playlist. He started mumbling ideas. I knew he was going in the right direction."
One of the last steps to finishing the song was getting the hook down. "The singing with the lady's voice — everybody thinks that's a sample, nah," Toomp clarified. "That's a woman that sings on a lot of Snoop's sh--. The way we EQ'ed it sounds like a sample, but nah. It has a few strikes behind it. That's just a person singing on the mic — it just has that effect on it."
"I heard that too, man," Toomp said of the rumor. "I didn't know what happed to it. In some way I wanted to work with Mary — that would have been great, man, to know I got Mary J. on one of my tracks."