Jay-Z once again has kicked off another tour this summer which is sure to be a success. This go around will be in support of his critically acclaimed album 4:44. There is no question Jay-Z has had a long illustrious career dating all the way back to the 1980’s. He has had 13 solo albums and 3 collaborative albums all certified at least platinum. I am most intrigued with the early part of his career. Back when he was “on the come up”, looking to get established and have a record deal. What most people don’t realize is that there was a ten-year gap between Jay-Z’s first recording and his debut album Reasonable Doubt. One of the figures who was instrumental for Jay-Z reaching prominence early on was DJ Clark Kent also known as producer Clark Kent.
Clark Kent had initially met Jay-Z through Jaz-O. Jaz-O is responsible for Jay-Z’s initial introduction to hip hop dating all the way back in 1986. Clark Kent upon his initial meeting with Jay-Z knew he had star power. He believed in Jay-Z so much that he would place him on remixes of notable r&b artists at the time including Glenn Jones and the Rude Boys.
DJ Clark Kent Interview with Vlad TV
High Potent – HP Gets Busy featuring Jay-Z and Jaz-O
Glenn Jones – Good Thang (remix) featuring Jay-Z
Rude Boys – My Kinda Girl (remix) feat. Jay-Z
Clark Kent then proceeded to produce demos as Jay-Z shopped around in search of a record deal. This was going on around 1993 to 1995. The tracks were absolutely amazing. Some of the standout tracks were “Rippin It Up”, “Understand Me”, and “What’s In A Name”.
Jay-Z – Rippin It Up feat Sauce Money
Jay-Z – Understand Me
Jay-Z – What’s In A Name
Jay-Z did sign a record deal with the label “Payday Records”. He released the double single “In My Lifetime” and “I Cant Get Wit That”. “In My Lifetime” was produced by Clark Kent’s protégé Ski. While Clark Kent produced “I Cant Get With That”. Jay-Z was not happy with the marketing efforts of the label. He decided to form Roc-A-Fella Records with friends Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke.
Jay-Z – In My Lifetime
Jay-Z – I Can’t Get With That
Jay-Z then finally in 1996 was able to put out his debut album Reasonable Doubt. Clark Kent produced the tracks “Coming of Age”, “Cashmere Thoughts” and “Coming of Age” and “Brooklyn’s Finest”. Clark Kent during this time introduced Jay-Z to the Notorious Big and his cousin Inga Marchand better known as Foxy Brown. Those relationships would prove to be important as Jay-Z would build his brand to the point of super stardom.
Jay-Z – Coming of Age feat Memphis Bleek
Jay-Z – Cashmere Thoughts
Jay-Z – Brooklyn’s Finest feat Notorious Big
Beyond 1996 Jay-Z for some rhyme or reason would never work together again with Clark Kent. However, in 2007’s Black Album which at the time was supposed to be his “swan song” Jay-Z mentioned DJ Clark Kent. It was on “My 1st Song”, giving him props for helping Jay-Z attaining success. Needless to say Clark Kent was a heavy contributor in Jay-Z’s career early on. Many would consider that Jay-Z’s work early on was his strongest. Before Jay-Z hangs up the mic it would only be fitting for the two to collaborate one more time.