Singer Meli'sa Morgan Reflects on Working With Jay Z on 'Reasonable Doubt' 20 Years Later

Donna Ward/FilmMagic
Meli'sa Morgan appears during the induction ceremony for Prince to The Walk Of Fame at The Apollo Theater on June 13, 2016 in New York City.

It’s been 20 years since Jay Z dropped his critically acclaimed album Reasonable Doubt on June 25, 1996, the entry point for the fiery Brooklyn rhymer who dropped knowledge about his rough upbringings as well as his lavish lifestyle. 

On a recent red carpet event for late singer Prince’s induction at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Billboard caught with R&B singer/songwriter Meli’sa Morgan, who collaborated with Hov on the LP for "Can’t Knock The Hustle (Fool’s Paradise Remix)." Mary J Blige provided the chorus on the original, which samples Morgan's 1986 offering "Fool's Paradise." 

Morgan recalled how the then-burgeoning MC from Marcy Projects reached out to her two decades ago. “When I got the call, [his team] was like, 'Jay Z wants you to come in and sing for the remix‘ and I was like, ‘Who is Jay Z?’ she says. “It was fresh, it was new and he was trying all kinds of new things.”

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The lowkey recording process was also memorable for Morgan. “I remember that he was tall,” she recalls. “I came in and had my sneakers on. When we did the remix, he just said, 'Come in the studio and do the single with me.'

“So he was rapping up here and I was singing down there,” she notes, demonstrating their height difference. “But he was just a sweet heart,” Morgan continued. “I’ve seen him a couple of time since then but now I can’t even touch him.”

Jay Z's Reasonable Doubt hit No. 23 on the Billboard 200 upon its release and has gone on to sell upwards of a million copies in the United States. 

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