Grammy-nominated producer, label exec and rapper Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie knows a thing or two about competition between MCs. The onetime leader of Bad Boy Records Hitmen production team had a front row seat to some of hip-hop’s biggest sparring matches and all-out brawls. Not only did he witness two of the greatest to ever rap–Jay Z and The Notorious B.I.G.–duel in the studio, his alter ego “The Mad Rapper” subliminally enraged his peers in the ’90s and gave a platform for a then up-and-coming MC named 50 Cent to brag about robbing rappers in the industry.
When asked about the spirit of competition for our upcoming retrospective on Hip-Hop in 1994, D-Dot offered his trademark candor and even tied the environment of 20 years ago to today’s rap game.
“It was definitely competition without a doubt, but it was definitely comradery too because you wanted to be in the room with this guy to see their record making process,” he told TheUrbanDaily.com. “Because everybody’s process was different. We wanted to be the best [and our] album to be #1, but at the end of the day we needed those guys to show us what we were up against.”
To further underscore his “steel sharpens steel” assertion, he points to a current battle (albeit subliminally) between Jay Z and Drake. The OVO CEO was quoted in a “Rolling Stone” magazine article that he was tired of hearing Jay Z talk about what art he bought.
“It’s like Hov can’t drop bars these days without at least four art references,” Drake said in the interview. “I would love to collect [art] at some point, but I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny.”
While he insisted his comments were off the record, Jay Z defended his Basquiat and Picasso namedropping in the recent “We Made It” freestyle, calling Drake out by name: “Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much art talk/ silly me rappin’ ’bout shit that I really bought…”
Drake responded in the recent track, “Draft Day,” with little shots at an unnamed nemesis that most listeners believe is Jay, including D-Dot. And he loves it.
“I most definitely think he answered Jay, but he did it the way Jay did it!” D-Dot says growing more excited with each syllable. “He said, ‘Chill, Sprite got me on payroll.’ That’s some real adult rap! He’s doing what Jay does. When he said ‘Just hits, no misses, that’s for the married folk’ you gotta catch all those little lines. If he wasn’t going at Jay, Jay should still take it personal because ain’t but two people he can be speaking to. I enjoyed it. The same way I enjoyed Nas and ‘Ether’ I and all that I’m enjoying Drake, because the kid is nice. Anybody that says he isn’t they are insanely bugging. I think we water him down because he’s talented in other areas. Just imagine if Jay Z could sing, would we still be thinking he’s the best ever? Our ignorance says you can’t be nice in more than one thing. But that kid is stupid nice and I’ve worked with the best of them.
“I would bet all my cribs that Jay Z heard ‘Draft Day’ and a smile came over his face because he realized this is a formidable opponent,” D-Dot continues. “This kid ain’t no chump. [Jay] is still the god MC. But this ain’t some of those other guys. This is comparable to what Nas brought to his ass. He’s not scared, but he’s kind of enjoying this at the same time. Like ‘Ok young fella, you aight. Let me put my foot in this for a second. I can’t just sit back. I’m really gonna have to spank this kid.’ It’s competition and comradery at the same time.”
Watch as TheUrbanDaily.com’s Senior Editor, Jerry L. Barrow talks about the songs with Chuck Creekmur, Mr. Mecc and Datwon Thomas in their “Hangtime” Google Hangout.
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