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“Dead Presidents II” is all about getting money that has drawings of dead presidents on it (and/or Benjamin Franklin & Alexander Hamilton, who were not ever President, but whatever…) In an interview with Complex, Ski Beatz recalled putting this beat together: "Nas' "Illmatic" had just come out. And I was just listening to “The World Is Yours.” I just fell in love with the pianos. Once I felt that vibe, I just went searching for anything with a piano that made me feel like that. Soon as I heard the piano, I was gonna fall in love. I was just digging and digging, and I found that Lonnie Liston Smith joint [‘A Garden of Peace’] and I thought it was fresh. And then I just threw that Nas sample in there just to see if it would work because I liked Nas' voice. I gave it to Jay and it fit right into the scheme of his album and what he was talking about." “Dead Presidents” is the single version, released prior to the album with completely different lyrics, but identical chorus. Producer Ski Beatz explained the reason: "The new verses on “Dead Presidents II” were to give people more of him. Back then, we didn’t really do remixes so for an emcee to give you an extra verse was just a bonus for you." Some point to Nas' refusal to rap on the hook as a source of animosity between the two rappers. It’s unclear just how much animosity existed because of this hook, but Jay certainly used it as fuel during their battle, referring to it on “Takeover:” "You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song." Skit Beatz said of the beat: "I basically got inspired to make “Dead Presidents” when I heard Nas' “The World Is Yours.” The version Pete Rock did. So you know, I sampled Nas' voice." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.