In the early-mid 1990s, in a smoky pool hall in the Bronx, NY, Jay-Z and DMX went toe to toe in a war of words. Details about the legendary hip-hop battle are scarce, and those who were there admit that their memories of the event have faded a bit.
HipHopDX spoke to three people who were at the battle: Ski Beatz, Sauce Money, and Ruff Ryders co-founder Waah Dean. The three men, to the best of their ability, gave an inside look into a battle of two of the 90s greatest emcees.
Waah Dean: We did [the battle] on neutral grounds. Instead of doing it in Brooklyn or Yonkers, we did it in the Bronx.
Ski Beatz: When I rolled up, I was with Dame Dash, Tone Hooker, Jay-Z, and I think some of Dame’s people from Harlem—his crew called The Best Out. That was the name of his crew, from Harlem. I think Dame set [the battle] up. It was like a Brooklyn-Uptown/Harlem kind of thing. So we all met at the pool hall, in the Bronx.
Waah Dean: We heard some things about Jay-Z from Brooklyn, and from Dame, and we’d bump heads with their people every now and again. The word was out that we had these guys that was doing similar things—traveling to different areas and [battling]—so we knew in a matter of time we was gonna be in a place where somebody was gonna make the phone call, and say, ‘Yeah, we got this guy standing here, and they all wanna be here…’ and that happened. So we knew what was up. We didn’t really look for anybody, we just dealt with the situation as it was there. We knew [DMX] was one of the best, one of the greatest, so we wasn’t worried about no artist coming after him.
Sauce Money: Everybody who battled, I think it was myself, there might’ve been a girl—we had a girl, her name was Roughness—and T-Strong, and Jay. We had to get on top of the pool tables, so whoever’s battling, they’re standing on the pool table, going at it.
Waah Dean: There was no room in the building to stand at, so the only way to do it was to stand on the pool tables so everybody could see.
Sauce Money: The pool table was like a boxing ring. We were standing on opposite sides of the pool table going back-and-forth. While we were rapping, n*ggas were pulling out guns—all kinds of crazy sh*t.
Ski Beatz: People came in there strapped; people from the Bronx had guns, and people from Harlem had guns. Luckily it didn’t go down like that, but the atmosphere was Hip Hop, [and] at the same time, it was gangsta.
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