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JAY-Z Passed On Classic Big Pun Beat, Says Former Roc-A-Fella A&R



JAY-Z‘s extensive discography almost included the Knobody-produced beat that went on to become Big Pun‘s biggest hit, among other now-classic Hip Hop records.

According to Roc-A-Fella’s former Head of A&R Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua, Knobody had given him the “Still Not A Player” track first, however, it ended up becoming one of many future hits that JAY-Z was not interested in recording.

“There’s a lot that didn’t make it, that I tried to force and then other people used them,” Hip Hop told the R.O.A.D. Podcast. “‘Still Not A Player, I had that. I had ‘Woah,’ I think [Memphis] Bleek passed on that. We had ‘Lights, Camera, Action,’ [JAY] said it was too slow. I was like, ‘What you mean it’s too slow?’”

Released in 1998, “Still Not A Player” featuring Joe was technically a remix of Big Pun’s 1997 single “I’m Not A Player,” but ended up surpassing the success of the original in many ways and became Pun’s highest ranked song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

In 2014, Joe revealed that he never expected the collaboration to be as successful as it was.

“The ‘Still Not A Player’ record was kinda funny because I had ‘Don’t Wanna Be A Player’ as my single at the time. And Pun had, I think, a similar record too,” he told VLAD TV. “The two songs were so similar we just sat down and chopped it up and was like ‘Yo, we should just merge the two.’”


He continued: “And [I] played a few tracks and it came around to this one particular track. It just felt like the right one. And Fat Joe got with us. We got in the studio and I put the hook down. Pun apparently had his verse written out to a T. I didn’t think the record was gonna take off like that to be honest with you. It was one of those records where I loved it. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t know it was gonna be like a mega-mega-hit.”

Years prior to passing on the “Still Not A Player” beat, JAY-Z had connected with Knobody to create what became his first charting single, “Can’t Knock The Hustle,” which remains a fan favorite.

While Hov passed on a handful of songs that he predicted would be hits, Hip Hop said he always took it in stride when other artists ended up proving his ear had been correct.

“I’m never really [holding] grudges or like, ‘I told you so.’ I’m already moving on to the next record,” the veteran music exec said. “‘Cause sometimes it’s just like only 14 songs. So it’s like, whatever’s best for the record. So I know that a record gotta motivate him. That’s why, any hook I ever did, I had to convince him to do the record.”

That approach led to the creation of “Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)” and the UGK-assisted “Big Pimpin’.” With the latter, Hip Hop also had to do some coaxing to get Pimp C on board, he revealed during the interview.

Like Bun B has previously said, =Hop shared that Pimp C’s love and respect for 2Pac — whose death was still recent when talk of recording the JAY-Z single first came up — was the first obstacle that had to be overcome to get the late Texas legend on the track.


“But once he got past that, he thought Jay was saying that he was playing with his dick in the truck,” Joshua recounted. “So he’s like, ‘Man, I’m not getting on no song with another man talkin’ bout playing with hisself in the truck! Young Hop, you my boy, but what you tryna have me doin’, man?’ He said, ‘That’s like career suicide!’”

Hip-Hop clarified that the line in question, which hears JAY-Z rap: “Let ’em play with the dick in the truck,” actually referred to would-be female passengers. “He said, ‘I could see that. That makes sense now.’ Then he kinda got closer to doing it,” Hop added.