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Jay Z may be known for many things these days — his marriage to Beyoncé, owning Tidal, his hit records — but let’s not forget why we first started taking notice of him two decades ago: His raw skills on the mic.
We don’t get new music often from Hov these days — his last album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, dropped over two years ago — but now we’ve got something so old that it’ll feel new to plenty of fans.
Over the weekend, Stretch and Bobbito, who hosted “The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show” on WKCR in New York from 1990 to 1998, posted some freestyles that Jigga did live on their radio show twenty years ago. And these are some gems.
Maybe you’ve heard them before — like the “7 Minute Freestyle” with Big L, which is beloved by many fans, and whose full ten-minute version Stretch and Bob posted; maybe some things will sounds familiar, like when Jay raps, “Peep the style and the way the cops sweat us/ The number one question is can the Feds get us/ I got vendettas in dice games against ass bettors/ And n—as who pump wheels and drive Jettas” on the freestyle from Dec. 7, 1995 — which ended up being the opening lines on “Brooklyn’s Finest,” his 1996 collaboration with The Notorious B.I.G.; or maybe they’re completely new.
Either way, it’s time to press play.