Jermaine Dupri has revealed he’s responsible for introducing JAY-Z to No I.D., a full decade before they teamed up to record 4:44.
JD appeared alongside Curren$y — with whom he’s readying a joint project — on the Rap Radar Podcast, where he recalled bringing No I.D. to the studio while working on Hov’s 2007 album American Gangster.
“I actually introduced No I.D. to JAY-Z,” the So So Def hitmaker said. “I took him with me to that session. When I was doing ‘Fallen,’ I took No I.D. with me. They didn’t even know each other. While I was making that beat, he was in the corner with his headphones on making another beat.
“Hov was like, ‘What you got?’ He was asking everybody around — there was a bunch of producers in the studio. And I was like, ‘He got some shit. I’m telling you, watch.’ He plugged that shit up, and next thing you know they done made a whole album together!”
Dupri noted that JAY-Z was aware of who No I.D. was due to him mentoring Kanye West early in his career (No I.D. also produced “All Around the World” from 2002’s The Blueprint 2), but that was the “first time that they actually got a chance to really connect like that.”
From that point on, JAY-Z and No I.D.’s story began, to quote Mr. West. The Chicago native produced the American Gangster cut “Success” featuring Nas, and would go on to score hits like “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” “Run This Town,” “Primetime” and “Holy Grail.”
Then, in 2017, the duo cemented their partnership by joining forces for 4:44 — the first and only album in Hov’s decorated catalog to be produced entirely by a single producer.
No I.D. previously spoke about how he came to work with JAY-Z in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2007.
“Jermaine Dupri contacts me and says, ‘Let’s work on Jay,'” he said. Jermaine was trying to get Jay to come down to Atlanta, and Jay kept telling him, ‘Nah, you come up here.’ So we ended up going up there [to JAY-Z’s Manhattan studio].
“When we got in there, he said, ‘Okay, I have nine or 10 songs. I only need two more songs. And I mean specific songs.’ So it was at the end. But as a producer, I like working at the end anyway. You can see what’s going on. You get a feel of the sonic direction, what’s missing.”
Explaining how “Success” came about, he said: “It was the second day, and [JAY-Z] was saying, ‘Look, I need this type of record. I’m telling you to throw a bulls-eye from 50 feet. But I need specifically a hard record that girls can like, that’s danceable, that’s not too radio, that still could get radio play.’
“When I found the idea on my computer, I stood up and started walking around the room, stretching out. Everybody looked at me like, ‘What are you doing?’ I was like, ‘I got it. I got the song.’ It was just a raw organ melody sample.”
He added: “When I did that beat, he was asking me what did I think. I kept telling him, ‘I feel like this beat feels triumphant and arrogant. This energy gotta be boastful.’ He was like, ‘Yeah. Successful.” That’s how the ‘Success’ concept came up.”
No I.D. also recalled linking with Jermaine Dupri, which came about after he and Common parted ways following a long and fruitful partnership that’s best known for 1994’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.”
“From a Hip Hop purist’s standpoint, I never really understood his success. And I just was like, ‘Man, I really gotta humble myself and quit acting like he doesn’t know what he knows,'” he admitted.
“It took us a while to really comfortably get in and work. He’s one of the coolest people I know in the business, period. I began to get a lot of respect for what he does, and it made me a better producer. It made me learn how to make a Bow Wow record, or hone in on an R&B or pop record.”
Revisit some of JAY-Z and No I.D.’s best collaborations below: