True Hip-Hop Stories

But this ain't the homie D-Nice; it's COMPLEX Mag.

One of my favorite magazines comes with yet another dope piece of Hip-Hop storytelling, this time catching up with longtime Entertainment Lawyer-turned-writer Combat Jack (née Reggie Osse) and getting some firsthand, behind-the-scenes stories from the making of several of Hip-Hop's favorite songs.

Jack obviously spent much of his 20 years in the business very close to the Bad Boy and Roc-A-Fella camps (or it could be that these stories are just the most interesting), as many of the stories he shared with COMPLEX are related to these respective crews.

But fear not — it ain't ALL Roc/Bad Boy stories. He's also got stories on Capone-N-Noreaga, 50 Cent, LL Cool J, 3rd Bass, Nice & Smooth and several others.

Peep a sample of the piece after the stretch, or head straight over to COMPLEX and read the whole thing by clicking here.


Original Flavor feat. Jay-Z - "Can I Get Open"

"We were repping cousins Damon and Darien Dash, who were managers under their Dash Management Company. Damon and Darien were kids, teenagers, who managed two groups: Original Flavor and The Future Sound. Clark Kent had discovered the Dashes. At the time he was an A&R at East/West Records, a label under Atlantic Records. Clark signed both groups, which meant that Damon and Darien had a lot of money in their pockets for cats that were only 17, 18 years old. ... East/West had put a hold on the rap acts they were signing, so Clark wasn't able to sign this up-and-coming Brooklyn MC named Jay-Z. So he introduced him to Damon, on account of how Clark was impressed with Dame's skills as a manager. It still bugs me out how, back in '94, Clark swore that Jay was the best rapper alive. For their first single, Clark convinced Dame to put Jay on 'Can I Get Open.' Ski and Tone were good, but once he touched the mic, it was clear to all that Jay-Z murdered them on their own shit."


Notorious B.I.G. - "Who Shot Ya?"

"I was representing a majority of Puffy's Hitmen producer crew, and Nashiem Myrick was one of them. Nashiem was such an ill producer for how he came up with the beat, flipping the 'I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over' sample into this beat. When I first heard the beat, originally as an interlude to Mary J. Blige's My Life album with Keith Murray rapping over it, then this version with Big, my mind couldn't comprehend how otherworldly the track sounded. Listen to them keys drop made me feel like I was tripping on dust, and I never smoked/inhaled dust in my life."


2Pac & The Outlawz - "Hit 'Em Up"

"On top of continuously taking shots from Tupac, Death Row, and Snoop even, we were growing tired of being the target. No one on our end really knew the source of Tupac's rage, but God damn did he become a beast. The day this song dropped, New York was quiet, like we had got punched in our collective chests. Plain and simple, the record was hot, and the rage that jumped from off the track was very disconcerting. We got calls from our peoples at Bad Boy, from Roc-A-Fella, all talking, wondering how far 'Pac and Suge wanted to take this. ... When 'Pac yells out 'Fuck you too,' referencing anyone down with Bad Boy, I took that shit personally. Plus, cats started getting kind of annoyed at Big for not responding directly, because we all knew that as a superior lyricist, he would have really bodied Tupac and hurt his feelings. Still, with all that going on, being in the eye of the storm that was the coastal beef, the raw dopeness that is 'Hit 'Em Up' is undeniable. One of the greatest dis records of all time. And in a weird way, it remains one of my favorites."


Jay-Z feat. Notorious B.I.G. - "Brooklyn's Finest"

"Dame, Jay, and Clark were done begging the industry for a deal. Pooling their collective monies, along with Kareem Biggs, Roc-A-Fella was officially born. I was hired to do all the paperwork, all the sample clearances, all that. ... When Clark first played the track for me, I didn't get it, I'll admit. The sample was so different, jazzy, unorthodox, but the rhymes were greater than anything, ever. Respectfully, Jay was thirsty for Big's spot, and it showed. At the same time, Big wasn't effing around. No way was Jay going to outshine dude. This record would have been a monster single and even a greater video. When I contacted Bad Boy for Big's clearance, Puff wouldn't, couldn't grant us the full single rights. ... No shots, but I remember being on the phone once again begging for Puff to let Big rock on a single and video, and Puff asking me, 'Yo, what the eff is a Jay-Z? I can't get Clive Davis to clear Big on some unknown rapper's record.' To his credit, Puff did let the Roc keep the song on the album. ... Years later, I still feel some kind of way about Jay and Big not shooting a video for that. Can you even imagine how ill that would have been?"


Capone-N-Noreaga - "T.O.N.Y."

"I was representing Nashiem Myrick and Tragedy Khadafi. Apparently they had beef as they were each part of opposing crews from Queens. ... One day, they were both in my office—appointments colliding—and the air was tense. Both clients were known to have been real thuggish on the streets. Fast thinking and talking, I helped convince them that we were all on the same team, and there was collabs to make, money to earn. Trag cautiously shared with Nashiem how he was working on his group, Capone-N-Noreaga. They start building on ideas. The first collabo they worked on was 'T.O.N.Y.' ... When 'T.O.N.Y.' dropped, cats weren't expecting that from Trag. It had been a long time since he had any heat, and no one had ever heard of C.N.N. before. Talk about organic, I watched that song go from a truce between two foes to becoming a Tunnel classic."

For the rest of Combat Jack's stories, visit

Supplier: COMPLEX

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