According to Roc-A-Fella’s former head of A&R Kyambo “Hip Hop” JoshuaKnobody had given him the “Still Not A Player” track first, but it ended up being one of many future hits that JAY-Z wasn’t interested in recording.
“There’s a lot that didn’t make it that I tried to force and then other people used them,” Hip Hop told ROAD Podcast. “‘Still Not A Player, I had.’ I had ‘Woah’ I think [Memphis] Bleak passed it on. We had ‘Lights, Camera, Action,’ [JAY] said it was too slow. I was like, “What do you mean it’s too slow?”
Released in 1998, “Still Not A Player” featuring Joe was technically a remix of Big Pun’s 1997 single “I’m Not A Player”, but ended up surpassing the success of the original in many ways, becoming Pun’s highest charting song on Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“The ‘Still Not A Player’ record was kind of funny because I had ‘Don’t Wanna Be A Player’ as my single at the time. And Pun had, I think, a similar record as well,” he said VLAD TV. “The two songs were so similar that we just sat down and chopped it up and were like, ‘Yo, we should just put those two together’.”
He continued, “And [I] played a few tracks and it turned into this one track. It just felt right. And Fat Joe got with us. We got into the studio and I put the hook down. Wordplay obviously got his verse written out to a T. I didn’t think the record would take off like that to be honest with you. It was one of those records where I loved it. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t know it was going to be like a mega-mega hit.”
Years before he dropped the “Still Not A Player” beat, JAY-Z had connected with Knobody to create what became his first chart-topping single, “Can’t Knock The Hustle,” which remains a fan favorite.
While Hov passed on a handful of songs he predicted would be hits, Hip Hop said he always took it easy when other artists ended up proving his ear right.
“I never really am [holding] grudge or the like: ‘I told you so.’ I’m already moving on to the next record,” said the veteran music executive. “Because sometimes it’s like only 14 songs. So it’s like what’s best for the record. So I know a record has to motivate him. That’s why I had to convince him to do the record, no matter what hook I’ve ever done.”
That approach led to the creation of “Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)” and UGK– assisted “Big Pimpin’.” With the latter, Hip Hop also had to cajole to get Pimp C on boardhe revealed during the interview.
Like Ball B has previously said, =Hop shared that Pimp C’s love and respect 2 Pac — whose death was still recent when talk of recording the JAY-Z single first came up — was the first obstacle to be overcome to get the late Texas legend on the field.
“But when he got past it, he thought Jay said he was playing with his dick in the truck,” Joshua shared. “So he’s like, ‘Man, I can’t come up with no song with another man talking about playing with himself in the truck! Young Hop, you my boy, but what are you trying to get me to do, man? ‘ He said, ‘It’s like career suicide!'”
Hip-Hop clarified that the line in question, which hears JAY-Z rap: “Let them play with the dick in the truck,” actually referred to potential female passengers. “He said, ‘I could see it.’ It makes sense now.’ Then he got a little closer to doing it,” Hop added.