JAY-Z has recalled The Notorious B.I.G.‘s “playful” reaction to “Streets Is Watching” when he played the song for him.
Hov recently gave an all-encompassing interview with CBS Mornings‘ Gayle King, where he explained that the Ski Beatz-produced song was both the first track he recorded for his sophomore album In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 and the last he played for Biggie before his death in March 1997
This album was the streets’ favorite,” he said of Vol. 1 while giving King a tour of his “Book of HOV” exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library. “This album, I was trying to go into, like, the music business.
“The first song I made for this album was ‘Streets Is Watching.’ That was the last song I played for Biggie. He kept saying, ‘Play it again, play it again.’ I gave him the cassette
Jigga continued: “I’ll never forget — he looked back like, ‘The whole album gonna sound like this?’ It was almost like playful, but it was also almost like, ‘Man, he’s coming.’”
Watch the clip below.
Released in November 1997, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, representing a huge commercial leap from his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt, but remains a somewhat polarizing entry in Hov’s catalog.
In an interview with MTV in 1998, the Brooklyn native explained how The Notorious B.I.G.’s absence impacted the album’s creation following his tragic murder
“A lot of different songs were influenced by what was happening. ‘City Is Mine,’ the first verse, you could just hear it. I think two hooks on there came from songs that he had previously recorded,” he said.
“The album to me — this album wasn’t fun to me like Reasonable Doubt, because it was like, it seemed really slow to me, and I didn’t set out to do that, just looking back now and listening to it now.”
Elsewhere in his conversation with CBS Mornings, JAY-Z admitted that he still has the desire to make music, but will only release a new album if it’s meaningful.
“I already [used the word ‘retirement’], I can’t do that ever again,” he said. “I’ll say I wanna make music, but it has to be something important.
I don’t wanna just make a bunch of tunes. That’s not gonna serve me. It won’t feed me, first of all. I have to be saying something important. It has to mean something, you know? It has to mean something to a larger society.”
He continued: “4:44, for example, was a personal story, but the amount of vulnerability in there allowed for a lot of people to explore the space.”