Irv Gotti ushered in Def Jam Recordings’ mid- and late-1990s renaissance through his work with Jay Z, Ja Rule and DMX, among others. 

But the producer and label executive says that the rest of the Def Jam executive staff, Jay Z, Dame Dash and others didn’t believe in DMX, who, for several years, outsold Jay Z and Ja Rule.

“First meeting I ever had, I was like, ‘We gotta sign DMX‘ and they laughed at me,” Irv Gotti says of the Def Jam brass during Complex’s “Jewels From Irv Gotti: How Def Jam, Jay Z, & Dame Dash Didn’t Believe In DMX.” 

“Jay and Dame did not believe in DMX,” Irv Gotti adds of then-Roc-A-Fella Records partners Jay Z and Dame Dash elsewhere in the clip, noting that Jay Z said that people in the hood wouldn’t want to listen to DMX because Jay felt the music DMX made was depressing. 

DMX and Jay Z collaborated several times throughout the late 1990s, most notably teaming up in 1999 for the “Hard Knock Life Tour.” At the time, it was the first Rap tour to play in areas in approximately a decade.

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