Jay-Z talks boycotting Grammys to support DMX: ‘It was big love’

“He dropped two albums —had two No. 1 albums in the same year — they didn’t even nominate him," Jay-Z says in "The Shop" episode

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Jay-Z has had a contentious relationship with the Grammys for years but first made the decision to boycott the ceremony early on in his career in solidarity with DMX.

The hip-hop mogul appeared on the fourth season premiere of LeBron James’ The Shop: Uninterrupted on HBO. During the episode featuring rapper Bad Bunny, WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike, SpringHill CMO (and The Shop co-creator) Paul Rivera, Jay-Z shared why he took a stance against the Grammys in 1999.

While the legendary MC won Best Rap Album for Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, DMX didn’t receive any nominations at all, despite dominating the culture and charts with It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. DMX dropped both albums, the first of eight studio projects, in 1998.

Jay-Z opted not to attend the award show in protest for DMX. The music world has been in mourning since DMX, born Earl Simmons, died on April 9 at the age of 50.

Jay-Z DMX, theGrio.com
Jay-Z (left) and DMX (right)(Credit: Getty Images)

Read More: Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Nas and more featured on new DMX album ‘Exodus’

“By the way, the first time I boycotted the Grammys was for [DMX]. We both came out that year, he didn’t get nominated,” Jay-Z said. “He dropped two albums — had two No. 1 albums in the same year — they didn’t even nominate him. I won that year for Rap Album, so my first Grammy win I wasn’t there. I wasn’t even in the building, because I boycotted it for him. There was a competitive thing, but it was big love.”

The “Izzo” rapper reminisced about his first time meeting DMX, battling at a Bronx pool hall.

According to Jay-Z, DMX had him shook and ready to level it up.

“My fondest memory of DMX is he improved my stage show,” recalled Jay-Z, a native of Brooklyn. “The lights are off. He’s in the hallway. It goes dun-dun. Now, the arena’s shaking, and I’m like, ‘this is cool.’ Dun-dun. Then he goes ‘grrrrr,’ and the fuckin’ arena goes crazy. It’s deafening, and I’m like, ‘Oh, sh–.’”

Jay-Z continued to be in awe of his peer and how he had a raw connection with the crowd.

DMX thegrio.com
Rapper DMX makes an appearance on MTV 2 Presents Sucker Free Week on April 6, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Read More: Jay-Z’s Made in America festival to return to Philadelphia

“He’s running back and forth … Halfway through the show, then he takes his shirt off … the dog chain is drippin’, and he’s going nuts, and I’m like, ‘Sh–.’ This is halfway through,” Jay-Z continued. “First the guys were going crazy, now the girls were going crazy. Then he gets to the end, and he starts a prayer. And now they’re crying. The whole arena is crying tears. And they’re like, ‘Hey … now you go.’

Jay Z isn’t just sharing memories of his relationship with DMX but also appears on X’s posthumous album Exodus that was released Friday. It features Jay-Z and fellow New York rapper Nas on the track “Bath Salts” with DMX.

Swizz Beatz is the executive producer of the album and told Variety earlier this month that DMX’s influence would never be forgotten.

“There was no one like him, and never will be,” he said. “Earl Simmons was, and is, my brother. Still my best friend. A great father. A great philanthropist. There are a lot of people who shadow his shortcoming and hard goings, but, I’ve seen way more light than dark, knowing him for real.”

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