Everyone doesn’t have a 20-year career in music, especially hip-hop. One day you could be hot, on top of the charts and back and forth across the country on tour and the next day it’s all gone. For a collective emerging from New York City, one album gave the legs for everyone to chop down two decades of dominance. June 25, 2016, marks the 20th anniversary of Jay Z’s critically acclaimed debut album Reasonable Doubt. The album was the introduction to arguably the greatest rapper we have seen, but at the time was a Brooklyn bred hustler with a lot of ambition, the will to win and a read to win team of a tight-knit squad that carried all the same character traits.
Of that team of hip-hop royalty is Ski Beatz, the producer who laced Jigga’s debut with timeless hip-hop masterpieces that are debated and heralded as the greatest tracks of the genre’s history. From “Politics as Usual” to “Dead Presidents II” and the onslaught of “22 2’s” to vibes of “Feelin’ It,” the stamp of Ski is clear as a producer. However, many don’t know or fail to acknowledge how Ski was instrumental to the overall development of Reasonable Doubt, Roc-A-Fella and Jay Z as an artist.
With the 20th anniversary of the album approaching, and now here, Ski took the time out to share what it was like to work on the project. While describing the working relationship between he, Jay Z, Dame Dash and more, he discloses interesting anecdotes about the produced tracks of he and DJ Premier and others, the origins of Roc-A-Fella, friendly competition between Hov’s and The Notorious B.I.G.’s recording sessions and more. – Shawn Grant