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Jay-Z Turned Down $100,000 Payment for His Silkk the Shocker Collab in 1999

The billionaire rapper stunned Silkk the Shocker by refusing this payout over 20 years ago.

Jay-Z Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2021 Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Back in 1999, Jay-Z was just a few years out from the release of his first studio album, Reasonable Doubt. While he was already solidifying himself as a major talent in the hip-hop world, he was nowhere near the billionaire status he has today. Even so, he turned down a $100,000 payment for hopping on a track with fellow rapper Silkk the Shocker, earning himself a lifetime fan.

Silkk the Shocker, who saw his own rise in rap in the ’90s, recently spoke with The Art of Dialogue about the early Jay-Z collaboration that filled him with respect for how the Roc Nation founder has handled his career. Host Mighty Bolton asked Silkk about Jay-Z refusing that payday for his verse on 1999’s “You Know What We Bout,” and the rapper shared both how grateful he was for Jay’s generosity and how it lined up with his careful business moves over the years.

“Shout out to Jay-Z,” Silkk said. “Our relationship was dope because when I did the song with him, I thought I had a budget for him. I was like, ‘Yo, I got a hundred racks’—that’s a lot of money back in the day too! I’m sure he could’ve used the extra $100,000; who ain’t gonna use that? When I hit him up, I’m like, ‘Yo, the song is dope, you killed it.’ So I said, ‘Where I should I send that bread to?’ Jay was like, ‘Nah, it’s good, man. Just keep it and we’ll figure out something later on down the line.'”

“I’ve watched him come up,” Silkk added. “He was just very humble, but he was a workhorse, right? And he had a vision, too. I think the people who make it is the ones who’s consistent, nothing happens overnight, and I think with somebody like Jay . . . it was like, yo, he’s gonna make it. I don’t know what he’s gonna be but he’s gonna be something.

With a few decades of perspective on that exchange now, Silkk can appreciate more than ever why Jay-Z was able to turn down that payday with ease.

“He won’t even do music for anybody, so if he does the music for you what I came to learn was that it’s bigger than that for him,” Silkk explained. “He has a plan, an idea, a thought process . . . if I do it for you, it’s bigger than money.”

“To me, that’s consistent with today,” he notes. “If you look at him, it’s not a fluke that he’s successful. So I salute him big time.”

Jay-Z is a master of making business decisions with the big picture in mind, and his strategy has certainly paid off over the years. Even in 1999, he wasn’t sweating a six-figure payout. He knew he was building his legacy and his fortune, and he made a lifetime impression on Silkk the Shocker along the way.

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