Jay-Z Explains Why He Quotes Notorious B.I.G. In His Rhymes

Known for quoting his big brother, Hov sounds off on why he uses B.I.G. lines in his rhymes.

Jay-Z has quoted Notorious B.I.G.'s lyrics several times in his music, weaving his rhymes into his own verses. In an interview with Roc4Life, Hov explains that his quoting B.I.G. is to keep his name alive and inspire his raps.

“There was a vow in that song about Big. So doing that was my way of always keeping him fresh and keeping his music fresh on everyone's mind,” he said. “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. I can write a song without using anyone’s lyric at all.”

He goes on to quote his line on “What More Can I Say,” where he raps, “I say a Big verse, I’m only bigging up my brother.” He justifies his approach by explaining that he doesn’t need to prove he can write raps, as his abilities show for it.

“That sums the whole thing up. Be comfortable with yourself and your ability. You don’t have that insecurity when people say, ‘Oh he stealing homeboy’s lyrics, he can’t write a rap.’ We can sit down next to anybody and write two verses. They could write and I could sit up there and come with a verse and we can see who comes up with a better verse any day.”

RELATED: Details Emerge On Jay-Z & Kanye West's "Watch the Throne"

129 Comments

  • Yey Yey

    haha, can you sit down with Canibus or Killah PRiest and come up with a better verse then them?

  • Ghost of Hip-hop past

    "YEAH I'll tilt my hat to the side...I'm cool"

  • Ghost of Hip-hop past

    This guy sucks and now that the wool is starting to get lifted from our eyes watch him unravel. P.S You look stupid in that video jay. How old are you? A 50 year old man that dresses like and cohorts with kids...SMH

  • harris89

    Jay completely stole the idea of "99 Problems but a bitch ain't one" and didn't even mention that he got it from Ice T in his book....... if he only uses peoples' material as homage, explain that one, you fucking dickriders.

  • Rocc

    I can't believe Beyonce letting this funny looking dude hit that. Love has got to be blind.

  • Pedro Fraire

    I admit i have 3 of his albums...because i downloaded them illegally. haha this nigga is truly overrated. He has great beats and the only time i was really diggin his lyrics was when he dropped Reasonable Doubt. He better use some of his money to get ghost writers on his new shit if he plans on releasing more music.

  • Anonymous

    i dont understand all this hate for jay cuz i bet everybody who's tlkin bad about him in here has an whole jay-z album sumwhere

  • Chopra

    Old ass nigga....this dude is the most I repeat the MOST overrated artist in music history.

  • Dylann17

    'How much of Biggie's rhymes is gon' come out yo fat lips'. We all know who said this.

  • bballslim42

    People saying Jay-z is wack just come across stupid. Jay is one of the best to ever do it and its not even debatable.

  • Quadiyr Wilson

    People could criticize Jay for the rest of his career but he will always be on the top of his game.

  • Mike

    What Jay is doing is actually a literally technique that had existed for thousands of years called Allusion. If you paid attention to 10th grade English you would know that but since you probably didn't hear is the definition: a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage. It's up to the reader (or in this case, listener) to make the connection and in hip-hop it becomes like an inside joke so when interpolates something from a Rakim song you can be like, "man he's alluding to Rakim, he really knows hip-hop" and it adds a depth to the song that the casual listener won;t get.

    • Anonymous

      you want a catalog? how about "every mc that jay-z bites" biggie, pac, nas, eminem, big l...

    • Mu

      @Mike: Thanks for that well-thought-out defense of one of the greatest emcees of all time. It baffles me how much hate there is in the hip-hop community for Jay-Z. I'd love to see the haters put their favorite rappers catalog up against his and compare. How quickly they forget... SMH

    • Anonymous

      And he does that in every song. And if he doesn't then the song wasn't wrote by him. Jay z is garbage any true hip hop fan knows that www . youtube. com/watch?v=RqScH2CfYTg

  • mgruppe.com

    JAY IS A SMART SON OF A BITCH - VERY GOOD ANSWER BY "KEEPIN BIGGIE ALIVE" IN THE MINDS OF PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO LIL SQUEEKY AND GEISHA BOY. JIGGA MIGHT BECOME PRESIDENT ONE DAY.

  • Cody

    LOL people bringing up nas....okay if ANYTHING jay has been stealing from NAS for years now.

    • davey stoned

      nas is trash and has been since 94

    • lex

      Quoting a verse and jacking an entire song are two totally different things you jackass. Name one song in which Jay bites the entire thing? Hmmmmmmmmm....zzzzzzzzzzz......didn't think so, you jackass

    • Twan

      Jay-Z recited so many of Nas' line from Illmatic and even other songs after that. I agree with that

  • Obi Patrick

    There's no justification for stealing not quoting other niggas rhymes never mind Biggie. In Camron's Swagger Jacker diss record, theres almost a thousand acts of plaigraism done by Jay-Z, and it doesnt end with Biggie. So all you morons that wanna cosign that bullshit like its acceptable are just Rocafella groupies.

    • davey stoned

      name one rap artist who hasn't used a line from another rapper.

    • real

      Thats bull. Jayz doesnt bite anyone lyrics but all material is recycled in someway. Ludacris released a song where he played verses from different artist music from the 80's till recent and versers on lots of artist songs were recycled in someway. Big has done it, Nas, Tupac, LL, Wayne, ect. Its part of music check all other genre and you will see. But you young ninja to slow to understand that

    • Mu

      FOH Obi... everytime I dip into my collection and listen to some old school shit, I hear at least one line that makes me say "Oh shit, THAT's where _____ got that line from!" Sometimes rappers quote lines word for word, and sometimes they put their own spin on it, but EVERYBODY has done it... believe that

    • Rubix Cuban

      lol Amen!

    • megastar

      camron is a swagger jacker too,

  • Anonymous

    So, nobodys talking about the concepts Nas jacked off for I Gave U Power and Fetus?

  • haha

    "They could write and I could sit up there and come with a verse and we can see who comes up with a better verse any day.” Lol looks like Jay forgot about Renegade

    • davey stoned

      the song was originally em and Royce and jay did hear ems verse before he wrote his verses.

    • real

      Renegade is a cut Eminem wrote to after Jayz had completed with Royce. Eminem wasnt even suppose to be on that song. Jayz didnt write that song with him.

    • AR NEMA

      Jay didn't hear Em's verse he only got the track he didn't hear the whole song until it was submitted for the album and even then Jay's verse wasn't garbage Em's was just off the wall crazy. I'm glad he didn't pull a LL and go and change his verse when he heard it, it's still a great song.

    • Pedro Fraire

      So if jay already heard Ems verse did he give up and try not outshine Em? or what da hell u mean

    • Steve

      Jay was only outshined because tht was already em's song wit royce but they had beef so em gave jay the song nd her just replaced royce's verse wit jay's

    • Anonymous

      Name another song in which Jay was outshined by the guest? You may be able to name a few more, but not many. Hip hop fans are by far the worst fans on the planet. In no other genre of music will you find the fans so easily turn their backs on the artist. Hip Hop fans are so hard to please. Once the artist makes it, the fans think they've sold out cuz they no longer live in the hood and they've cut of the leeches and the blood suckers. Some fans are so wack

    • Mu

      Haha! You got a point, but he never said he always does come up with the better verse. He said "..we can SEE". yeah, Em won that time

    • Devin Williams

      Hell yea lol

  • muraayirvc

    Its not just Big you quote Jigga you clown. You also copy alot of other MCs so tell the truth for once and stop lying!

    • real

      You responded like Jayz is going to read your comment. Their are probably more artist who have used his rhymes in the songs than he has quoted Big. You cant have a 20+ yr career in music reciting other peoples songs. Doesnt happen.

  • nspeezy

    Well, we dont believe you, you need more people..

  • Rich Britton

    Biggie took lines from BDK btw.

  • Mr Flamboyant

    Man this is one of the most tired topics ever. Damn this is hip hop. Cats interpolate cats lyrics all of the time just to big them up and pay homage while showing the depth of their hip hop fandom/prowess/etc. Nas is the most sampled nigga ever. Heck Curren$y is very impressive to me not only because he makes good quality music, but he displays his wide range of artist who influenced him and who he was a fan. Let me think of some of his interpolations just off the bat: #Jets GO when he starts the song off by saying his very first line "never will it stop..." and then goes about the line with the chevys and the double engine blocks or whatever... he interpolated Jadakiss from Show Discipline. Same cadence and all. Kiss spits "Never will it stop. Chrome Magnum with double digit shots." or something like that. His chorus on "The Type" featuring Prodigy is the first bar that Big Boi spit on "Skew It On The Bar B". He interpolates Nasir Jones with the "David Robinsons Wally Moccasins" line on Blood Sweat Gears. That came from Nas "Street Dreams". And that's just off the top of my head and I knew where he got them from when I first heard the songs. So really... why still beat an old drum with this Jigga and B.I.G. demo? It's foolish. I don't like Jigga when it comes to his most recent product and how he has become so commercial and cheating the hip hop heads with faulty product for sales cause his name rings bells on Soundscan. But him "biggin up his brother" ain't gonna be one of the reasons.

    • Mu

      Co-sign Bro... The first Anonymous who commented is so confused by your logic that he didn't want anybody to know his name for fear of being labeled a moron for life, LMAO

    • wwwtheKONGLISTcom

      I concur to the utmost fullest w/ what you said...thank you because I'm at work & don't have the time to type! lol's PEACE GOD!

    • drphil

      he also quoted jay z on the song "jets over everything" "due the dollars im due to demolish" or w/e he got it from reasonable doubt

    • Anonymous

      I believe he also refers to Clipse on Life Instructions, det first few lines

    • Nina

      what the hell kinda username^^

    • whitey in blackface

      He's talking about rap music. I agree dude. It is sometimes creative or cool when artists do that. For example in another way. Rappers also throw back to old songs, samples that they use. Like Mobb Deep "The temperatures rising and it's not surprising", that's Quincy Jones song body heat. Man if you listen to old Redman, his lyrics and flow are so dope, he incorporates shit into his lyrics all the time like that. BUT however, JIGGA's use of Biggie's lyrics are not as good in my opinion coming from this perspective. That's just my opinion.

    • Anonymous

      WTF are you talking about?????

  • Nico 3

    If Pac and Biggie were alive, would they be doing this?

  • ba

    "We can sit down next to anybody and write two verses. They could write and I could sit up there and come with a verse and we can see who comes up with a better verse any day.”

  • Willie B

    Oh Please....Hov doesn't need to steal Biggie's rhymes keeps his friends legacy alive by using quotes of him in his song isn' t that obvious... http://www.piranhatechworks.com

  • Anonymous

    bitin ass nigga "we laughin at yo ugly ass no homo" -killa cam

  • thought dog

    Who's the notorious b.i.g.?

  • Taon Sauls

    First off using part of other rappers lines is part of hip hop. EVERY rapper has done it, even on BIG's album there was a cut in which he used a Biz Markie line. It amazes me how one sided people are because if you listen to 99% of the rap albums released they have several verses which where borrowed from other rappers. It happens so often that XXL has a feature in all their magazines in which they take a line and tell you who said it and who originated it. But when Jay do it he is the biggest biter in the world. So let's say he uses a BIG verse in a rhyme...so what is that 1-5% of that rhyme belongs to someone else, so 95% of the song was original Jay-z material but he is a biter. You have people who never knew Tupac who has used his lines but they are paying homage when Jay-z spits a line from a person who Lil Cease and Jadakiss admits was a very close friend of his, but now he becomes a biter. The funny thing is how people hate so much they don't see how their arguments makes no sense.

    • chico the Don

      I assume you guys also realize that when ever Jay uses a BIG line his estate gets royalties off of the verse.

    • anon

      EVERY rapper? prove it.

    • Me

      You are taking this too serious. But paying homage about 50 times over your career is a little much. Rappers use others lines all the time, you are correct. But they don't stay on one rapper their whole career. Jay is going to have to start getting lines from Born Again or the Rap Phenomenon mixtape so he doesnt repeat.

  • Da1

    Because BIG was better then him.

  • Anonymous

    MAN COME ON HE MAY HAVE RECITED SUM OF BIGS LYRICS IN HIS RHYMES BUTUCANT SIT THERE AND SAY THATS WHAT MADE HIM RICH HE MAY RECITE BIG 2 TO 3 TIMES IN RANDOM SONGS NOT ALL BUT SOME.U GIVE ME A SONG THAT JAY DID WHERE HE IS JUS STRAIGHT BITIN BIG FOR AN ENTIRE VERSE.LIKE I SAID HE MAY DO IT 2 OR 3 TIMEZ IN SOME SONGS.BUT U AND I BOTH KNO THAT THAT AINT WHAT MADE HIM RICH.U NAME A TIME RECENTLY THAT HE RECITED A BIG LINE?

  • Me

    It took him over 10 years to come up with that excuse? We could probably put together an album of Biggie covers just by taking the lines Jay used over the years.

    • Taon Sauls

      actually he said he was going to do this on the song The City is Mine off of In my lifetime vol 1. in 1997

  • Brian Andrew Smith

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqScH2CfYTg

  • Brian Andrew Smith

    Because he's a biter not a writer.

    • Brian Andrew Smith

      what the vid i posted next dumbass. his biggest hit in the past decade was a complete rip off of an ice t song. know hip hop before you become stan.

    • Anonymous

      You are a dumbass, go kill yourself.

  • Anonymous

    So jigga jacks biggies rhymes and comes up with excuses as to why, wayne jacks his lines, Game name drops and more than half the industry jacks each others lines, style and other shyt... In other words most commecial rappers have little to no originality or creativity..

    • Anonymous

      man you are so ignorant..you make it sound like jay-z just spits biggie lines all day.. 99% of his lines are his own, and the rest of the time he is payin homage.. whats so wrong with that? f**king fool

  • Anonymous

    justifying stilling like kids dont know biggy ,jy z cry me a river get the fuck outer here

  • Robert Holborough

    "LONG OVERDUE"....(WWW.REN-MUSIC.BANDCAMP.COM)

  • Billy Bucks

    I really don't understand why people hate this dude so much. I just don't get it. Who's been able to do what Jay has done as long as he's done it? You don't have to love Jay, but you have to respect what he's been able to accomplish.

  • Anonymous

    bullshitt jz been stilling rhymes from everybody qu sucking dick

  • cccccc

    wayne jacks jay z rhymes so what does that make him

    • megaman

      wayne been jackin jay-z style for years now, but people say jay sucks and wayne is the "best rapper alive" HA..dont get me wrong i like lil wayne too but..yeah

  • Anonymous

    stole pac me and my girlfriend too,

    • Anonymous

      eminem stole tht too

    • khordkutta

      Thats a BIG what if on that. Like, would he and Pac be tight so making the song woulda been cool. would there still have been beef, so the song doesnt get made?

    • Tyler

      Using lines from hit songs to envoke an emotion someone felt when they heard that song in order to confuse people into feeling that emotion they did when they first heard that BIG lyric and it gets him a NO.1. Its Propaganda. Like he said he study's emotions... its like smells remind you off a time or place ..so does music... dead presidents the best part of that song is the NaS hook and Premo beat... i dont even listen to Jay on that song but its a hot song,.

  • Ether

    Like Nas said "How much of Biggie's rhymes is gonna come out your fat lips?"...

  • Toronto

    Why would Jay-Z need to steal lines? Jay is def a legend in the game, and can drop dope rhymes. Go listen to reasonable doubt or the blueprint or american gangster or the black album

    • Anonymous

      Legend in ANYONE'S mind, you dumb cunt. You might not like him, but you can't take away his accolades. That's like not being a fan of Dr. Dre or Ice Cube and trying to deny them their status.

    • Anonymous

      legent in your mind

  • freshyboi

    yo whats up with those glasses? arent those the frames the hipsters be wearing??? i cant take him serious with those glasses man

  • That Nigga In His Basement

    You SHEEP are being spoonfed lies and evil! Jay-Z has been quoting The Notorious B.I.G. as a method of brainwashing you DRONES to follow his sick demon worshipping cult of elites know as Izcalldhomagenikka! There are such OBVIOUS signs proving this man is nothing but a puppet for the elites! First, notice how he says “So I'm inspired by music and I'm a fan and a historian." My old college history professor called himself a historian. That ol smug ass nigga wouldn't shut up about his career. That dude actually gave me a D on my final. D is for Doritos. My research shows Shawn Carter's favorite flavor of Doritos is Flaming Nacho. FLAMING. Don't you mindless sheep see this scientifically proves Jay-Z only plans on consuming your soul with his music so the elites can feed it to the highest demon they worship, Yalljushaytinohnjigga! These are pure facts and research! Seek the truth FOOLS! WAKE UP

  • Anonymous

    he should quote joe camel instead

  • Anonymous

    Everyone who questions Jay's skills knows NOTHING about hip hop.

  • Anonymous

    dont test jiggas ability. i never even questioned dude for quoting big and other rappers lines. i always took it as homage. i kno what can do no explanation necessary

  • Wtf?

    Jay-Z is whack. Watch the Throne is gonna flop.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, because his albums flop. Come on dude, even Kingdom Come sold big. Kanye + Jay-Z? That's an instant gold record at the very least, if only in name alone.

  • JO

    So now....Explain biting from Pac, Bun-B, Too Short....etc etc etc....you Biggin up BIG, thats cool so you're saying that you're bigging up everybody else in the industry as well right, sure Shawn....really, really?

    • anger management

      why would he not big up pac bun-b big l eminem n too short??? they are all going to go down as legends in the game

    • Anonymous

      after all the hits and classics this man has made you really question his skill? c mon son. jay is a fan. he better than 95% of the people he quotes,

  • Anonymous

    "Jay-Z Explains Why He Quotes Notorious B.I.G. In His Rhymes" ... cause he's the biggest cribber in the hip-hop industry

  • anger management

    any time hes recited someone else's shit it's clearly him bigging them up not jocking them....you're holding onto that cam'ron skit way too tightly my son dula

  • anger management

    whoa calm down buddy jay-z didnt kill ur pops n then marry ur moms theres no reason to get that mad at a person you've never met...you act like hes used more than half a bar of a biggie rhyme at a time...

    • east coast bias

      The problem is that biting was something that was frowned upon big time in rap. Jay Z is not the one I have a problem with. Its all of the clones afterward who thought it was cool to steal lyrics from other cats and insert it into their own. It takes away from the actual art of rhymin.

  • UM

    QUIT HATIN ON THE MAN.... IM SURE U HAVE LISTEN TO HIS MUSIC....STOP HATIN...NOT GOOD

  • sean con

    you need to ask this faggot how he can say if he aint better then big then he the next one.fucking bitch you should never say that if you gave a fuck thats why u were given his spot u illuminati mason faggot when you and faggot puffy had him and pac killed to become moguls

    • guess

      puffy & jay had big killed... to become moguls... so then these two niggas knew the future? they knew that once Big was dead they were gon blow up? More than that... Puff wasn't a mogul before Big died? More than that - Vol. 1 was the first Jay album after Big died and he was not on no kinda mogul path with that record (no disrespect). More than that Vol. 2 intro says Jay is retiring... he was gonna quit. where your theory come from?

    • guerilla jones

      emper and possible a small dick) to comprehend that BIG has been dead for at least 10 years now,so for someone who is alive and has sharpened his craft NOT to be better then a dead dude that hadn't even reached his prime yet would make hip hop and everything it stands for look bad in the process.Thats a lot of hat you carrying around for someone youll never see in real life,and is doing all the things you WISH you could do!

  • Your Name

    Stfu You Camel Faced Fuck. "They could write and I could sit up there and come with a verse and we can see who comes up with a better verse any day." Yeah OK, no matter how hard Gay-Z goes in, he can never touch the true masters of this rap shit. Biting is biting period Joe Camel.

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