Maybach Music Group’s Wale recently offered up a review of Jay Z’s classic 1998 album, Life & Times, Vol 2… Hard Knock Life, and why Jigga has to be respected as hip-hop’s greatest of all time.
Reviewing the content Jay laced his late 1990’s LP with, Wale emphasized why Hov remained in a class by himself over a decade ago.
“Jay Z? Greatest to ever do it–hands down. No debate. If you debate you’re really just mad. You got some kinda inner joint, but he knows it though. I think that’s the greatest thing about knowing him is like, being around somebody who knows. It’s just like when Steve Young learned from Joe Montana. I remember hearing it on WPGC long ago. I think I was in middle school, eighth [grade] or something like that, and I remember listening to that joint, and I just remember “Hard Knock Life” being on the radio, and I was just like, “Yo, I’ve never heard anything like this ever.” Ever! Like, that hook ["Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)"], I didn’t even really know what it was saying, but that mothaf*cka was so cold, man.” (XXL)
Wale took things a step further by suggesting Jay’s “Hark Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” ultimately helped the LP’s overall sales.
“I just think it was a different time. You can’t even really rate no more ’cause the scale have just went like that. That would be considered a backpack record right now. Process that. Like, that would be considered an outright backpack record. No street n*ggas would rap on that right now. Not one. That was his most selling album ’cause of that song! ‘Cause n*ggas wasn’t buying singles, like a lot of mothaf*ckas was like, “I wanna hear the Annie song.” And the album–that album was dark. Money, cash, hoes and all that.” (XXL)
A couple years ago, Wale revealed just how much of a close-knit bond he shared with Hov.
Wale has good advice coming from all directions. “Jay-Z, essentially, is my business adviser,” Wale says. “Him, [Roc Nation VP of management] Rich [Kleiman] and [Roc Nation's] John Meneilly. I know Jay has a personal place in his heart for Ambition. I remember one time I was on the phone with Jay, asking him, ‘What did I do [wrong]? What can I do differently?’ He was like, ‘Maybe you just didn’t come with that single. You made a solid first album. But you didn’t come up with that single.’ That just added fuel to my fire.” (Billboard)
In early 2010, the Washington, DC native admitted he almost signed to Def Jam off the strength of Jay.
“Jay’s my man, like, I met Jay-Z three years ago when he was at Def Jam,” Wale explained referring to Hov’s 2005-2008 run as Def Jam president. “I almost had a situation there but he left. He kept me under the wing and I get to go a lot of places that I probably couldn’t afford and eat things I can’t pronounce and stuff like that. But touring with Jay, like being the opening act in arenas and it’s only 20 percent full, we may or may not have a dressing room, it’s good. It’s like bieng a freshman on a footballteam. And I pay my dues, and I think a lot of times artists feel like you’re supposed to give it to them.” (“The Mo’ Nique Show”)