In the world of hip hop, it’s not unusual for some of the biggest hits to come from beats that weren’t initially intended for a particular rapper. In the case of Big Pun’s “Still Not A Player,” the beat that became his biggest hit was initially offered to none other than Jay-Z.
Released in 1998, “Still Not A Player” featuring Joe was a remix of Big Pun’s 1997 single “I’m Not A Player” but ended up surpassing the success of the original in many ways and became Pun’s highest ranked song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track was a fusion of different samples, including an interpolation of Joe’s “Don’t Wanna Be a Player” and Brenda Russell’s “A Little Bit of Love.”
Roc-A-Fella’s former Head of A&R Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua revealed on the R.O.A.D. Podcast that he had initially been given the “Still Not A Player” beat by producer Knobody, but Jay-Z passed on it.
“There’s a lot that didn’t make it, that I tried to force and then other people used them,” he recalled recalled. “‘Still Not A Player, I had that. I had ‘Woah,’ I think [Memphis] Bleek passed on that. We had ‘Lights, Camera, Action,’ [JAY] said it was too slow. I was like, ‘What you mean it’s too slow?’”
Although the collaboration between Pun and Joe seems like a no-brainer for a hit single looking back on it now, it evidently wasn’t so clear at the time. Even the R&B singer revealed that he didn’t expect the song to become as big as it did.
“I didn’t think the record was gonna take off like that to be honest with you,” Joe told VLAD TV. “It was one of those records where I loved it. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t know it was gonna be like a mega-mega-hit.”
Not only did “Still Not A Player” end up becoming Big Pun’s most successful single, it’s also gone down as a certified rap classic by one of the greatest rappers to ever touch a mic. During the Up in Smoke Tour in 2000, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre paid tribute to Big Pun by playing the song live for the crowd, solidifying its status as a beloved track in the genre. It has also been sampled and interpolated by numerous artists over the years, including Incubus, Ariana Grande, and Cuban Link.