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There's A Bit Of A Debate On If Biggie Smalls Ever Wrote Down His Rap Verses

Chris Walter. Getty Images.

One of the most amazing  is rap is that Jay Z never writes down a single word that he puts in his rap lyrics. A clip proving that was recently on my timeline via The Joe Rogan Show. (Dante blogged about Rick Rubin helping The Strokes new album from the same interview)

So that's pretty rock solid info that Jay Z never wrote things down. No debating that. The interesting thing is how, or if at all Jay Z influenced Biggie Smalls aka Notorious BIG to not write things down as well. Let me explain. 

I first heard about Jay Z and Biggie's interactions via a friend in college while watching Jay Z's Fade To Black documentary (which if you haven't watched is great). My friend (shoutout Ant G) was into rap and said the folklore story was that when Jay Z and Biggie first met to write Brooklyn's Finest. 

The way my friend told the story or however or wherever he heard it was that Biggie slid a pad and pen over to Jay. Z to let him write his verse, and Jay Z slid it back respectfully indicating he didn't need to write anything down. Biggie said something to the extent of "Oh you too?" referencing he didn't write anything down either. 

Now again, this is via my friend and all hearsay. I've always wondered about the validity of that story and the Rick Rubin clip made me decide to dive into what's true and what's not. 

I found this article and video as my first dive into the facts 

Beats,Rhymes & Lists - “They met each other,” Clark Kent said, recalling the “Brooklyn’s Finest” recording session. “It wasn’t even like they had a conversation; they just started to laugh, clap hands — because there was an insane amount of respect for each other’s craft.”

After watching Jay not write down his rhymes, Big decided not to write down his own raps. “And from that point, Big stopped writing rhymes,” Clark Kent said. “He’s like, ‘I’m not gonna be the guy that’s gonna be here writing when this guy can do that.’ Even though I told [Biggie] a bunch of times, ‘he don’t write his rhymes down,’ he thought it was impossible that he could say rhymes that good without writing them down.”

Concrete evidence that Jay Z inspired Biggie to not write things down right? 

Wrong. 

Because then I found this clip:

DJ Premier explains that on Biggie's song "Unbelievable" he didn't need to write anything down. That song was released in 1994. 

Brooklyn's Finest was released in 1996. 

So who's version is correct? 

Either DJ Premier or Clark Kent has their stories or timelines mixed up, and unless Jay Z fully confirms the story, we'll never know since Biggie passed in 1997. 

I personally kind of like the unknown of what exactly transpired between the two or who inspired who. It's a cool story of two of literally the best to ever do it sharing a bit of the process while respecting the hell out of each other's craft. But I do need to eventually know exactly which version is true.