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Jay-Z Talks Using Notorious B.I.G.’s Rhymes in His Lyrics

Ben Hider, Getty Images

Listen to many a rapper’s tracks and the rhymes of other fellow lyricists are sure to pop up during the listen. While some critics may write that off as an artist none too creative, Jay-Z is justifying his use of Notorious B.I.G.‘s words in his songs.

In an interview based off his official Decoded iPhone app, Hov breaks down some of the lyrics used in ‘The City Is Mine,’ a single from his sophomore effort, ‘In My Lifetime, Vol. 1.’ In the song, he says, “A world with amnesia won’t forget your name,” a line he says was a “vow” to the late Brooklyn rhymer, who was murdered in Los Angeles in 1996.

“There was a vow in that song about BIG,” Jay-Z revealed. “It was my way of always keeping him fresh and keeping his music fresh on everyone’s mind. So I’m inspired by music and I’m a fan and a historian. I study music and different emotions and things like that. So, if I’m inspired by it, I just use it. It’s not a crutch for me.”

He goes on to reveal that he can craft rhymes without ever leaning on another artist’s material but chooses to often times refer to Biggie’s catalog to keep his legacy alive. On his ‘What More Can I Say’ record, featured on 2003’s ‘The Black Album,’ he addresses recycling the raps of the deceased MC and why he chooses to do so. “I say a B.I.G. verse I’m only biggin’ up my brother/ Biggin’ up my borough/ I’m big enough to do it/ I’m that thorough,” he rhymes.

Watch Jay-Z Speak on His Lyrics

Watch Jay-Z’s ‘Empire State of Mind’


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