This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Reasonable Doubt, and if you need somebody to explain to you what’s important about that, I’m not sure why you clicked this article in the first place. To commemorate the occasion, we partnered with Apartment 4B, SWAP Management, Fourth of November, and D’usse Cognac to recreate Jay Z’s Brooklyn apartment from the ‘90s before the rap game took precedence in his life. The exhibit is at 517 N. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles and will be open until July. Ahead of the grand opening, we sat down with Kareem “Biggs” Burke, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, and talked about Reasonable Doubt and the early days of the Roc. What follows is a short excerpt from the interview, but keep watch for the full video next week. And be sure to check out Apartment 4B if you’re in Los Angeles.
Were you around selling tapes out of the trunk with Jay and Dame before Reasonable Doubt dropped?
Yeah. I had the [Acura] Legend Coupe, Jay had the [Lexus] GS, and Dame had a GS as well. Then we had a Buggy-Eyed Benz. It was just a crazy time, like to drop Reasonable Doubt, and the week before we even have an album, for me to have a platinum Rolex and a Range Rover, and I remember surprising Dame and Jay. I told them to come downstairs. I said, “I bought y’all some T-shirts.” And they came down and I opened the door and I hit the alarm. And I had the Range Rover with the tints. They were like, “Aw man, you bought the watch and Range the same week?” And I got it and I was playing Seal. I drove them to the garage and they were just like, “Yo, you killin’ it right now.” And then Jay would put Range Rovers in the raps, and everybody just gravitated toward it.
Me and Dame would joke about it: “Biggs do it first and Jay put it in a verse.” But it was something from all of our lifestyles that Jay would represent, [which] is why us, as a crew, we would love his songs so much, because it was a piece of Emory [Jones], it was a piece of Biggs, it was a piece of Dame, a piece of Ty Ty [Smith], and a piece of Jay as well. So when we listen to these songs it just brings those memories back of camraderie, relationships, fun. Just brothers wantin’ to be with each other all day. Wake up in the morning, call each other, just to hang out, get something to eat, whatever it was, we just wanted to do something to hang around each other. And that’s what Reasonable Doubt means to me today.