Original Flavor

One of rap's middle school crews headed by Ski, an MC/producer, Original Flavor dropped their inauspicious debut This Is How It Is in 1992. Although Ski worked with legendary New York DJ Clark Kent for the project, the album fizzled unceremoniously. For their follow-up, producer-in-training Ski enlisted the aid of a few more MCs including T-Strong, Chubby Chub, and a young Brooklynite with some experience in the rap field, Jay-Z. Jay-Z had worked with fellow Brooklynite Big Jaz on the track "Hawaiian Sophie" and the two were commonly referred to as Jaz and Jay-Z. Original Flavor was Jay-Z's training grounds and served as a catapult for his future endeavors. Flavor's sophomore release Beyond Flavor was released in 1994 to a mostly unenthusiastic audience. However, the lead single "Can I Get Open" features Jay-Z in impeccable pre-Jayhova form, with a decidedly less edgy rhyme format. Jay-Z's skills far surpassed those of the rest of the crew and his solo career would begin soon after the release of Beyond. Jay Peso went on to guest MC on the classic Big Daddy Kane posse cut "Show & Prove" (among others), then released a number of singles on his own including "In My Lifetime." It was at this time that Jay-Z turned to Jigga and adopted the Tony Montana-styled persona. Jay-Z would continue to work with his Original Flavor partner Ski after the group disbanded, making him a member of his Rock-a-Fella staff. Ski produced four tracks on Jay's solo debut Reasonable Doubt in 1996 and two on 1997's In My Lifetime, Volume One. ~ Michael Di Bella

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