It was the fall of 2006. Americans were marking one year since the devastating hurricane-floods in the South, the unlikely St. Louis Cardinals stunned the baseball world by winning it all over the Detroit Cardinals, and Shawn Carter was laying the groundwork for an un-retirement by racing autos in beer commercials and, later, selling beef. Several months beforehand, Cam’ron had twice done the once-unthinkable in one swoop, releasing a sort of shitty album and targeting his former boss Jay-Z in an extended dis record that made suggestive remarks and accused Jay-Z of copying raps off of others. The then-retired rap music mogul ultimately crushed Cam with a surprisingly effective weapon, silence. The message was that the “Purple Haze” emcee did not rise to his level.
Flash forward to the fall-time, when Jay-Z is prepping his return. Following attacks by ascendant Killa protege Jim Jones, Jay-Z threw caution to the wind and recorded a response over the by-then acclaimed Jim Jones single “We Fly High” — an eyebrow-raising move that proved catastrophic when Jimmy hours later utterly buried Jay-Z by basically giggling and randomly commenting over S. Carter’s version, turning in some rhymes and a mothballed Juelz Santana verse and general trash-talking. Jay-Z went on to release some albums that sorta diminished his legacy while marrying Beyonce and befriending the guy from Coldplay and other celebs, elevating his net worth to nearly $1 billion.
Yet as he lies asleep on his solid gold bed, next to his megastar-model spouse, fingers aching from counting his riches, belly full of expensive hamburgers, you have to wonder if his eyes remain open, teeth grinding as his mind echoes with Jim Jones’ comments about Big Pun whacking him in the head with a Cristal bottle in a club all those years ago, and wondering if things could have turned out different.