It was 2001 (for some reason, the time of year still alludes me). I was a young, baby-faced 20-year-old fresh out of Naval bootcamp who was just getting settled into my new apartment in Norfolk, VA – a mere stones throw away from Naval Station Norfolk. My roommate, a Dominican cat (we’ll call him Jhonny) had just arrived back from his hometown of Camden, New Jersey and was unloading one of those big, cheap plastic containers one can find at Walmart.
After helping him unload most of the content from the trunk of his Mitsubishi Galant, Jhonny asked for my assistance to start unloading whatever was stuffed inside. I wrestled random accoutrement like toasters, a coffee maker, a pouch containing a few military medals, a few pieces of his uniforms and an assortment of cassette tapes.
Jhonny took most of the items and offloaded them into his room, leaving behind the stack of cassettes. The TV was turned on; a re-run of Rap City: Tha Basement was relegated to background noise as he poured himself some Henny. I started rummaging through the numerous tapes. Many of them I had seen and even owned. The majority, however, I had never seen in my life.
One of those was a dub with black permanent marking with the words “DO NOT OVERDUB” in big, bold letters sprawled across the plastic case. Both sides. I asked Jhonny what this was and he looked at me like I was crazy. This was nearly 15 years ago, mind you, so some of the details have been lost. I do remember him telling me something along the lines of “You’re gonna bug out, son” and “This shit is history, B!”
Turns out, that tape was a full dub of JAY Z & Roc-a-Fella’s Hot 97 takeover. Hov’s showcase of his Roc-a-Fella/State Property team. Everyone from Beanie Sigel to Freeway, Memphis Bleek, Young Chris, H. Money Bags, Omillio Sparks and Oschino (I believe Neef was locked up at the time. Correct me if I’m wrong).
To say I was blown away was a fucking understatement. Each and every one of these dudes spit like they had been fasting for months. However, if I had to pick one favorite out of every cypher, well, that honor would have to be bestowed on Beanie Sigel and Freeway‘s flawless back-and-forth, which you can watch up top.
Relive the entire thing via the mixtape below.