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I remember buying Jay Z‘s debut Reasonable Doubt when it first came out in 1996.

I hurried home to play the tape, cracking open the plastic wrapper by digging my nail through the slit of the tracklisting fold and the part where you could see the cassette. I popped it in and immediately began looking at the album jacket. I noticed this picture of two other people standing behind Jay Z; one was Dame Dash and the other was Biggs.

As Jay Z’s legend grew, we found out more about Roc-A-Fella cofounder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, his “silent” partner and the guy some say is the actual blueprint behind Hov’s swag. Legend has it, Biggs did it first and Jay Z put it in a verse.

To this day, many people haven’t heard his voice. It was only recently that Biggs started to become more of a focal point for his brand. With a bunch of thriving businesses popping off, including a dope clothing line called Fourth Of November, Biggs has his finger on the pulse.

The man is all about creating and bringing things to life, something he talks to me about during our recent sit-down. The most memorable thing he told me was to “color in the white areas,” meaning, do things that others haven’t done yet. “We don’t follow trends, we’ve always been innovators,” he revealed.

Biggs oozes with confidence. It was clear then and it’s clear now. He talks about his business in an all-knowing tone; he speaks about the past the same way. I asked him about an old unreleased song from Jay Z called “Dead Or Alive,” which contains a Pac diss that came out around the time of the rapper’s death. I asked them why they pulled that song from Reasonable Doubt and Biggs explained:

“We just wanted to give him his respect. Pac died. It was something that we were looking forward to once he mentioned Jay’s name. It was a battle… You know the cockiness, we didn’t think anybody could deal with us on that level. Music or the streets. We were ready for that, so Jay had that in the cut. It was actually a song we did at the Apollo, the full Pac diss with Biggie on stage. It never got released. We put it out on a mixtape, but then we pulled it back like, ‘Let it be.'” 

Get the inside scoop from the man himself in the exclusive interview above.

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