In the world of hip hop, as we all know, production can make or break an artist. A great beat can take a a mediocre song to new heights, while a bad beat can leave even the greatest lyricists feeling uninspired.
For Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, the Kanye West production played a crucial role in its success. The song’s Jackson 5-sampling beat, catchy hook and street-wise lyricism cemented Hov’s status as one of the best and also biggest rappers in the game. The track peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it was the Brooklyn rapper’s biggest hit until 2002’s “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” with Beyonce.
However, what many people don’t know is that the beat for this iconic song was originally intended for Dipset legend, Cam’ron. In a recent Complex interview with Jim Jones, the Harlem legend revealed that the beat for “Izzo” was initially created for Cam’ron. “Cam actually did the whole record to that beat. He was about to use it as a single,” the Dipset rapper explained. “As you know, he was signed at Roc-A-Fella. We were all recording out of Baseline [Studios]. And Kanye, Cam liked it and the recording to it, so he’s excited about it.”
According to Jim, Cam’ron had big plans for the song. He was excited to release it as a single and was confident that it would be a hit. However, fate had other plans. “The BET Awards come on, and we’re in Cam’s house. We see Jay come out performing to that same beat and it just crushed us at that time because we were definitely counting on that record to come out and blast off,” Jim told Complex. “You can see how it did for Jay-Z when he put it out. So, we were definitely tight about that one. I know Cam especially was tight. But hey man, shit happens.”
In the world of hip hop, beats are often recycled and repurposed. It’s not uncommon for a rapper to use a beat that was originally intended for someone else. In fact, Cam’ron and his crew had done the same thing to Jay-Z in the past. “We had taken the ‘Oh Boy’ beat from him, whether he really wanted us to or not. So, I guess that was his payback,” Jim admitted.
Despite the disappointment of losing out on a potential hit song, Cam’ron and his Dipset crew created a whole movement during the 2000s era of New York hip hop, releasing a number of classic albums like Come Home with Me, Diplomatic Immunity, Purple Haze, Hustler’s P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment) and plenty more legendary projects.