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Jewels From Irv Gotti: How Def Jam, Jay Z, & Dame Dash Didn’t Believe In DMX


Insanul Ahmed

Insanul Ahmed is an Editorial Producer for Complex. Follow him on Twitter @Incilin

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 Irv Gotti made a lot of hits (and a lot of money) in his heyday, and yet it feels like he doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for his impact on hip-hop. He’s best known for turning his label Murder Inc into a powerhouse in the 2000s by transforming Ja Rule and Ashanti into superstars. What people forget, however, is that Gotti was also instrumental in the careers of Jay Z and DMX—who in turn took hip-hop back to the streets and brought Def Jam back to prominence in the late ’90s.

Maybe that’s why he has so much to say about X, Jay, Lyor Cohen, and Def Jam. When we spoke to Gotti for our Magnum Opus on Ja Rule’s “Put It On Me,” he ranted and raved revealing so many juicy nuggets we put together a five part series called Jewels From Irv Gotti.

In the first installment, he talks about how everyone from Jay Z and Dame Dash to Lyor Cohen and Def Jam didn’t think DMX could be a star. He recalls how Def Jam head honcho Lyor Cohen—in his Lyor Cohen accent—mockingly said, “Who’s gonna buy his records? Chiwawas? He’s barking.” And how Jay Z thought X’s music was too depressing. But Gotti got his revenge when DMX became a superstar selling five million records with his debut album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, and Gotti began telling Lyor to “shut the fuck up” during Def Jam staff meetings.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another episode of Jewels From Irv Gotti.

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