“Yo, yo dog, what’s the difference between a 4.0 and a 4.6?”
Like 30 to 40 grand c**ksucker beat it!
Although Damon Dash and Jay-Z have always hogged the headlines when it came to Roc-A-fella Records, anybody who’s anybody knew who the guy was. That guy was, silent partner, Kareem “Biggs” Burke. Known for being silent in more ways than one — seriously, if you haven’t, check out Death of a Dynasty — Biggs was always, “that guy”. “When Dame was screaming and Jay was over there focused on the music, I was that guy people could come talk to.” Burke said on the Rap Radar podcast a few weeks ago, “So I didn’t burn any bridges.” That notion was challenged and confirmed Friday, June 24th as Burke opened up a pop up store in Los Angeles in celebration of Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z’s legendary debut album.
I had a chance to cover the historical event for RESPECT., which was being held at concept shop APT.4B in L.A. Burke and his Fourth of November team turned the place into an exact replica of Jay’s old apartment in the infamous Marcy projects. Upon entry into the shop, you were greeted by a vintage store front with a sign that read, “New Album: Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt” as well as DJ Franzen spinning on the turntables. Franzen was playing everything from early Jigga classics, to songs that were sampled for the RD project, the tone of the night was very 90s. After being let inside a door that was reminiscent of New Jack City scene — graffiti, stash camera, you name it — you reach the main part of the shop, aka Jigga’s old bedroom. The scene upon entry to this part, was a surreal hop into a time machine to the early 90’s. There were posters and pictures of all types of Hip-Hop legends on the wall including Raekwon, Mobb Deep (I know, I thought it was weird at first too), Grand Puba and more. Though the posters of Jay’s former foes were interesting — he also had multiple pictures of Tupac visible — it was the stash near the “stove” which caught most of my attention. Complete with the dope boy starter kit, the area was stocked with fake powder posed as coke — so we think — a scale, baking soda and a pot to cook. The small environment really took you back to a hungry young Jigga’s mindset as he was getting ready to sky rocket.
— RESPECT. MAGAZINE (@RESPECTMAG) June 25, 2016
The place was also PACKED.
Everybody, their mom, AND their sister came out for this one, all in support of Biggs. There was even a surprise appearance from DJ Khaled. Newer fans might be confused on the importance of Biggs, but with others, his legacy is solidified. After shopping around a deal for Jay’s would be debut album to many labels, Jigga and Dame were beginning to be discouraged at the notion that nobody would give them a fair deal. Never to be screwed over, Dame decided to call on his former Harlem buddy, Biggs, to come in and partner up. Though Biggs, known for his money making prowess in the pharmaceutical game, was brought in to be an investor, he was much more than that. “Me bringing a lifestyle that Jay talked about, not to say Jay didn’t talk about his,” Biggs told RESPECT. during an interview at the event, “but a big part of that was me, Emory (Jones) and Tata bringing out the support.” Though interesting, this was far from an unknown fact. Stories like Biggs and co. buying out St. Thomas completely of Cristal have always swirled around the air, but it’s Biggs involvement with the creative side that at times went undervalued. “Well, I picked the beat for “Can’t Knock the Hustle“” He told me during the interview. As a Jigga stan — as I’m sure most of you reading this are — this blew my mind. “I think the sequence of the album, we all thought of that together,” he continued on his contribution to the creativity, “Also, pulling the photo shoot together, and just giving Jonathan Mannion a lot of reign, be we came together with the clothes and the lifestyle too.”
That lifestyle was on display this night.
Despite all the troubles that life brought to Biggs, including a prison sentence and the break up of his Rocafella empire, he was still able to reflect. “For me, it means the genesis,” Burke said on the importance of Reasonable Doubt to him, “It was the start of something that created businesses and an entrepreneurial, independent spirit in a lot of kids today. It’s something that just created artists, jobs and businesses in different industries.” One of those business is Fourth of November, a clothing line backed by Biggs. “I connected with an old friend of mine who had this denim brand,” Biggs says of the line, “It was hand made by the designer in his garage, and I love the story. It pays homage to a love story because his parents met in Ecuador at the address Fourth of November.”
In all, it was a night to remember for not only the man of the hour, but also the attendees. Met with Reasonable Doubt themed cocktails from none other than D’usse, the event was an incredible experience for any fan of the Rocafella days. And for the man who inspired Jay’s bars about 4.6’s and stunting, it was the culmination of a 20 year climb to the top.
Check out the pictures from the event below and be sure to bump to Reasonable Doubt today for it’s birthday, specifically, “Friend or Foe.”
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