I hadn"t driven far from BWI airport when I had to traction off right into the rent-a-car lot. My friend and co-producer DJ Khalil was on speakerphone, calling come say Jay-Z had end up being so enamored by a song I had actually written that he wanted it for his next album, an album that already had created a pre-release hit single in "Show Me What you Got" and was all but guaranteed to ship platinum. That told us the album was collection to be exit in two weeks and that my song, which would certainly serve as the monitor behind Jay-Z"s "I made It," to be the last to make the cut.

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My wife, Mashica, and also I, just ago in Baltimore for a concert with Yo-Yo Ma and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, jumped the end of the automobile screaming. Ns felt like lying on the pavement and also crying. The struggle, the exclusive lessons, the tough work—it had all paid off. I walked in one repeating, "Thank you, God. Give thanks to you, God."

Months earlier, I had woken up emotion nostalgic and spent the work in the studio layering piano, then Rhodes, then bass, drums, horns, and also the crackling the a vinyl record. Ns asked Mashica to add her special touch the vocals by screaming, "You don"t know!" and also topped the track through a friend screaming, "Oh!" The finished product to be fuzzy and also soulful and also something because that the people. I sent out it to DJ Khalil, my platinum music producer, who said I had actually started other special and also he knew specifically what to carry out with it. And then i waited because that his call.

Back top top the phone, DJ Khalil told me "I do It" was a tribute come Jay-Z"s mother. The rapper mirrors on his ups and also downs, highs and lows, and also his good commercial and financial success. Together I heard the song, i was overwhelmed, not simply by the emotional stress and also financial load of gift a brand-new dad, musician, and provider yet by the surreal moment of landing a song on such critical work the art. Ns felt relief and joy, along with a new responsibility to produce at the greatest level. "Ya infant boy"s a made man / I"m a organize the fam down like three generations / I"m talking when spaceships are roughly / and ya great-, great-grands / Reminiscing around the foundation you provided "em." Listening to "I made It," i thought about growing up in Baltimore as a kid whose mom suffered from drug addiction and also died the AIDS however did her ideal with what she could, when she could. We had been through so lot pain and also had never ever had any kind of closure. My tune on Jay-Z"s album, this priceless gift, appeared to it is in her method of smiling and winking in ~ me indigenous the heavens.

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Dontae Winslow, Peab "97, "99 (MM), is a jazz trumpeter, songwriter, and composer. He resides in California with wife Mashica and also sons Jedi and also Messiah.