Watch the rapper and Roc Nation exec recall what it was like competing with the late DMX throughout his career in last night’s episode of The Shop.
Airing last night on HBO, the episode signs off with Hov recalling his boycott of The Grammys on the late rapper’s behalf.
“Had two number one albums in the same year [and] they didn’t even nominate him,” the rap mogul recounts of his bittersweet introduction to the Grammys in 1998, where he pulled out of the ceremony for his first “Best Rap Album” win in protest of the Recording Academy.
The Roc Nation founder goes on to admit “there was big love” between the rappers, despite competing with each other throughout their careers. “I never met a human being more competitive with me,” Hov goes on to admit before describing their first encounter battle rapping in a Bronx pool hall. “After that battle, he went to like a show. He got on stage and was like ‘JAY-Z, where you at?!,” the rapper says in an imitation of DMX’s hallmark rasp.
Hov then dives into the first time he had the unfortunate honor of going on stage after X, remembering the sold-out opening night of a rare-for-its-time rap tour with a stacked bill that featured them both alongside Redman and Method Man, The LOX, and Ja Rule. The rapper details his experience watching X’s performance from the wings of the stage. “The fucking arena goes crazy,” Hov recalls of the crowd’s deafening reaction to just hearing X’s hallmark growl before he even took the stage. A clear fan and studious competitor, Hov retraces X’s theatrics as well, noting his energy during the set, the blood-colored cocktail of Alize and Hennesy he’d sip and spill throughout the performance, and the arena-wide waterworks caused by the rapper’s closing prayer. “They’re crying tears and then they’re like, ‘Now, you go,’” Hov half-jokingly says, copping to the embarrassment of having to follow X with his Annie-sampling single, “Hard Knock Life.”
Watch JAY-Z open up about his competitive relationship with DMX below. Head over to HBO Max to stream the full episode.