One of the key things that I notice about Jay-Z is his genius for collaborating with other artists and producers. I definitely understand the reasoning behind an artist wanting to focus most of their time and attention on themselves, especially if they hadn’t reach their goals. But, many times I see artists and producers become so self focused that they don’t realize working with others can actually push them to the next level.
Remember Jay-Z’s hit song “Hard Knock Life”? Yes, one of the biggest hits of his career. What rapper would have ever thought to use that massive beat to an Orphan Annie tune. Well, Jay-Z didn’t come up with that beat. Mark James, The 45 King, produced the track after seeing an Annie Broadway commercial. Jay-Z describes hearing it, “The key to this one is paying attention… I was doing a show and was coming off stage and the house DJ was playing it between the sets….I was about to run to my dressing room probably put a towel around my neck…so I heard the track and I told everyone ‘hold, wait, stop what is that’ and I ran around…found the DJ, it was Kid Capri.” Kid Capri was going to use the track on his own album, but he realized how much further it could go with, Jay-Z.
If that were you walking off stage, tired and sweaty, would you have bothered to find out about some other artist’s record? On a regular basis, I see artists pass on opportunities that don’t appear to fit in their plan. Even worse, many times artists don’t even seem to have a few minutes to find out the details of an opportunity. I think artists are so caught up on having that big-name producer contact them, they don’t realize that some small wins with an unknown artist or producer may be the thing that opens a bigger door.
*The narrator is speaking a different language but there is enough English where you can make out the story.