Shortly after the reveal of Jay-Z and Nipsey Hussle’s Judas And The Black Messiah soundtrack collaboration “What It Feels Like,” the song stirred up controversy when one of Nipsey’s long-time collaborators laid claim to ownership of the track. Guy Jaxzon Rae, an associate of Mississippi rapper Tito Lopez, posted an old recording of the song that originally featured Nipsey’s eight-year-old verse and Lopez’s, tweeting “that nipsey and hov joint was once a nipsey and tito lopez joint” and sharing the song’s audio on Instagram.
that nipsey and hov joint was once a nipsey and tito lopez joint
— admiral "no cap" picard (@SiNCEREGPT) February 12, 2021
The confusion prompted the song’s co-producers Mike & Keys to reach out to HipHopDX to clarify how the newly-released version came to be. Keys points out the production duo “used to do a lot of work with Tito Lopez,” elaborating that “We was even working on his album when he was signed to Capitol Records. One of the tracks that we did, Nipsey was the first person to rap on ‘Feels Like,’ but the thing is with that hook, we had sampled a Tito Lopez hook.”
Meanwhile, as Mike furthers the story, “we were with Nipsey every day, so they always used to call us and be like, ‘Man we want to do something to that song.’ But it was originally for the Mike & Keys album, so that was our personal song that we did with Nipsey, actually one of our first songs we did with Nipsey. This was 2012. To be honest with you, there are a lot of people who have verses on that beat. Tito wasn’t the only person. There’s like four or five other people who rapped on that beat. Like I said, that beat is from 2012. Tito was trying to get on the song because Nipsey was on it from the jump, but that was never his song. If he did a version to it, we never had it or heard it.”
As far as how the song ended up on the Judas And The Black Messiah soundtrack, the duo credits co-producers Rance and Mars of 1500 Or Nothin with putting the track in front of Jay-Z, who was inspired by Nipsey’s verse and the theme of the upcoming film (although his messaging is somewhat at odds with film subject Fred Hampton’s). While the duo expresses disappointment with Tito’s attempt to claim the song as his own, they spend the majority of the interview reaffirming their gratitude for working with Nipsey throughout his career: “I spent so much time with Nip that I had to figure out what he did and didn’t like,” Mike asserts. “What I learned from him is that he only did things that he was inspired by. He wouldn’t do nothing if he wasn’t inspired.”
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