two jays new york

Jay-Z performing during a ‘Mad Wednesday’ party at Club E.S.S.O. in Manhattan, New York in 1996; photographed by longtime Roc-A-Fella Records affiliate Walik Goshorn.

Peep the infamous Maria Davis in the back of the shot - the club promoter who formed the star-studded ‘Mad Wednesday’ party series in 1994; and who featured on Hov’s track ‘22 Two’s’ from his classic 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt. As with many NYC up-and-comers, such as Puff Daddy and Lil’ Kim, Hov used to frequent her club nights and vie for performance time. In a 2006 interview with XXL Jay-Z told the magazine: “I was pretty focused when I was creating the album, ’cause there was Maria Davis every Wednesday … that track [22 Two’s with Davis’ spoken word] became my secret weapon. Any show I did, I would pull that out.”

Hov and his Roc team has made sure to kept in touch with Davis over the years; he sent invites and gave her shout-outs at his Barclays Center opening shows and during the TiDAL X: B-Sides concerts, and he made sure to set her daughter up with $10,000 from the Shawn Carter Foundation to ensure she could attend college.

Track producer Ski Beatz also said of the song; “That was a freestyle that he used to do acapella. He used to kick it every time we did a show. That’s how that verse became famous, he spit that verse at a Maria Davis event called ‘Mad Wednesdays’ and the whole city was like, ‘Yo did you hear that rhyme Jay did at Maria Davis?’ The buzz was crazy.”