JAY-Z’s creative process is explored in the latest episode of HipHopDX’s “Deep Dive” YouTube series — watch it below.
The 24-minute video sheds light on what Hov — one of the most successful, prolific and revered rappers of all time — is really like in the studio, straight from the mouths of collaborators like Kanye West, Pharrell, Timbaland, Just Blaze, Snoop Dogg and more.
One highlight sees Snoop recalling JAY-Z writing Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.” in just half an hour after he and The D.O.C. struggled to write to the beat for four days.
“Me and The D.O.C. — this is one of the greatest writers in Hip Hop — we in there writing this song, struggling with this beat; we can’t come up with shit. It’s like the fourth day,” Snoop says. “Dr. Dre flies [JAY-Z] into L.A. 30 minutes later, that shit is done. He wrote Dre shit and my shit. And it was flawless.”
He adds: “Me and The D.O.C. was like, ‘Well, looks like this n-gga outstruck us on this one, so we gon’ take the backseat and gon’ accept it.'”
Another finds Pharrell — who’s produced numerous Hov hits such as “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me),” “Excuse Me Miss” and “Change Clothes” — describing the Brooklyn billionaire’s “weird” yet “amazing” approach to crafting songs.
“He writes in falsetto,” The Neptunes hitmaker says while doing an impression of JAY-Z’s high-pitched songwriting process. “That’s odd and different and weird and amazing, and makes him a character!”
The episode also features plenty of clips of JAY-Z himself providing insight into his creative process, including his renowned gift for writing rhymes in his head — an approach that has influenced generations of MCs from Biggie to Lil Baby.
“I don’t write lyrics down, I just listen to the track and then just go in there and I do it,” Hov explains. “It’s like a mumbling effect. In Rain Man, he was always mumbling all these numbers, rattling off these amazing numbers.
“He was like, I guess, an idiot savant in the movie with Dustin Hoffman. So I guess I’m an idiot savant as well.”
Watch JAY-Z’s “Deep Dive” below. Check out a playlist of all the previous episodes here featuring similar deep dives on Eminem, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre and André 3000.