In an interview with VladTV, Memphis Bleek described being present for an initial recording session of Jay Z and The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Brooklyn’s Finest” as well as the late emcee’s pre-fame impact within the borough.
“I think it was ‘Brooklyn’s Finest,’ I was there when they did the first version of it,” Bleek said of the song which appeared on Jay’s 1996 debut. “But then when they changed it up to how you heard it and how the world know it, I wasn’t there.”
“They was getting in,” he said. “The whole purpose of doing the song with another emcee that’s at that time hotter than you are, the whole purpose of doing the record is to show the world that you can if not tapdance with him or if not spar better than him. You wanna showcase your best, so of course Jay was going in for the kill. Then B.I.G. came in, B.I.G. spit some shit that was just unbelievable and then everybody just like, ‘You know, hold on, we just gonna take ya’ll verses and make’em line for line.’”
Speaking on his admiration for B.I.G.’s lyricism more generally, Bleek went onto talk about the rapper’s local legend status. “I always say, hands down, wordplay, Biggie is the truth when it comes to wordplay, like rhyming words,” he said. “If you listen to any rapper, rappers always rhyme two words: ‘cat,’ ‘hat.’ Biggie rhymed the whole sentence, every word in the sentence rhymed with every word of the next sentence. I don’t even know how he do it to this day.
“He was the illest. And Biggie was the illest before he made a record, that’s what people don’t know,” Bleek said. “Being from Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, Biggie was a legend before Puff even got a hold of him. He was just a legend in the hood, when it came down to demo tapes, house parties, Rap battles, that boy name just rang bells through the whole Bed Stuy. Everybody knew who Biggie was, back from his highschool days to before Bad Boy, trust me he had a CD circulating through the projects that back then you would say was bigger than the damn [DJ] Clue tape.”
Asked if the “Brooklyn’s Finest” emcees knew each other prior to the song’s recording, Memphis Bleek explained. “Yeah. We from Brooklyn, we from the same area,” he said. “I always say one thing about the streets. If you a killa and he a killa and ya’ll don’t know each other, somebody lying about being a killa. And if you get money and he get money and you don’t know each other, somebody lying about getting money. Because when you’re in them circles, it ain’t but so big. It’s like the one percent, it ain’t called ten percent, why? Because only one percent of niggas eating and every person in that one percent circle, I bet you they all know each other so of course.”
On the subject of any possible comparisons between the two, Bleek put aside the idea, citing the Ready To Die rapper’s shorter discography. “Biggie was the truth,” he said, “and I don’t even like people that compare Jay to Biggie know ‘cause you can’t do that. I’m bias number one, Jay is my brother. But then Biggie didn’t have the playing field that Jay had to compare, he only got two albums. So you can’t compare two albums to fifteen.”