Jay-Z Once Considered Biggie Smalls His Only Competition in Hip Hop

Jay-Z is one of the most successful rappers in the music industry. On top of selling millions of records, he’s also praised for his longevity in the music business. But when asked if there was another rapper that truly competed with him, only fellow Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls came to mind.

Jay-Z had to find other ways to motivate himself after Biggie’s death

Jay-Z posing while wearing sunglasses and a black sweater..
Jay-Z | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Biggie Smalls’ death had a profound impact on many. The rapper touched several lives with his music and personality, but of course, he has been especially missed by those closest to him like Jay-Z. Jay-Z and Biggie both went to the same school and strung together a few hit songs. “Who Shot Ya” and “Brooklyn’s Finest” are a couple of their most memorable performances.

But after Biggie’s death, Jay-Z once admitted it had an effect on his music, both good and bad. The Brooklyn emcee dedicated a son few songs on his sophomore album, In My Lifetime Vol. 1, to his friend. But his death took away the potential fun he could’ve had on the album.

“The album to me — this album wasn’t fun to me liken Reasonable Doubt, because it was like, it seemed really slow to me, and I didn’t set out to do that, just looking back now and listening to it now,” he said in a 1998 interview released by MTV News.

Apart from that, there were few artists that could push Jay-Z’s artistic bounds like Biggie could. So after his death, for a while, the music mogul had to find other ways to tap into his motivation.

“I don’t have anyone to bounce off of, you understand? We bounced off each other like, ‘Oh that was crazy; I gotta make something crazier.’ When you don’t have that, you don’t have that gauge,” he said. “It’s just hard to adjust; you have to find other ways to motivate yourself.”

Jay-Z once considered Biggie Smalls his only competition

Jay-Z has seen the rise of many hip-hop artists in the music industry. One such artist was Eminem. In an interview with Playboy, Jay-Z acknowledged that Eminem, who he collaborated with, was the only rapper to sell more records than him at the time.

“He’s an extraordinary talent. He’s a genius, bottom line. But race has something to do with it,” Jay-Z said. “If you listen to his record ‘White America,’ he addresses that topic.”

When asked if there was anyone else who Jay-Z felt he personally competed in rap with, Biggie was the only person he thought of.

“There was one person: Big. If I heard ‘Who Shot Ya?’ in a club, I would leave and go make some music. That’s not to take anything away from Eminem or Nas, I just don’t look at them as that,” he explained.

Jay-Z would then go on to compare his relationship and rivalry with Big to that of Michael Jordan’s rivalry with Magic Johnson.

“Right. I heard Jordan say, when Magic had AIDS, he felt like he was cheating him. ‘You leaving now? Yo, I need you. You’re going to define my greatness.’ It was selfish,” he said.

Jay-Z doesn’t believe anyone can beat him in a Verzuz battle

Jay-Z has recently commented on competing with other rap artists in a Verzuz battle. The platform has seen many rap artists pitting their best career hits against each other to see who comes out on top. Jay-Z, however, doesn’t believe there’s any rapper on Earth that can beat him in a Verzuz.

“No disrespect… everyone’s amazing. No one can stand on that stage with me. There’s not a chance in hell. I don’t care how long it is,” Jay-Z said during a Twitter Spaces Conversation (via People).

He went on to say there are performances he has never done that he’d be able to use in a Verzuz. This would only further tip the odds of victory in his favor.

“You got to stand in front of the ‘Grammy Family Freestyle’ live? No one has ever even seen me perform that, you got to stand in front of that? That ain’t never going to happen,” he added.

RELATED: Jay-Z Once Shared That ‘The Blueprint 3’ Was His Hardest Album to Make