Pusha T teamed up with Arby’s on Monday (March 21) for a diss track aimed at McDonald’s. On the song, the G.O.O.D. Music president raps about “selling water to a whale” in reference to JAY-Z’s line on 2001’s “U Don’t Know.” This prompted journalist Sowmya Krishnamurthy to wonder whether Hov said “whale” or “well” in his lyric from over two decades ago, so she reached out to Just Blaze to get to the bottom of it.
“So @Pusha_T new Arby’s track seems to have a JAY-Z reference,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m bugging. Did I have ‘U Don’t Know’ wrong for 21 years?! So I had to ask JAY-Z.. Was his line: A: ‘I’ll sell water to a WHALE.’ B: ‘I’ll sell water to a WELL.’ C: Both. Here’s his response! Haaa!! @sc x @JustBlaze.”
Krishnamurthy then shared a screenshot of her iMessage conversation with Just Blaze, which came with a message directly from JAY-Z.
“From Hov,” the message read. “Haaaa!!!! Well/whale. It’s never a coincidence when these things happen. I try to make things work on multiple levels every time I sit down to create. It keeps me engaged.”
So @Pusha_T new Arby's track seems to have a Jay-Z reference. I'm bugging. Did I have "U Don't Know" wrong for 21 years?!
So I had to ask Jay-Z.. Was his line:
A: “I’ll sell water to a WHALE”
B: “I’ll sell water to a WELL”
Here's his response! Haaa!! @sc x @JustBlaze pic.twitter.com/kvwhAJHnnx
— Sowmya Krishnamurthy (@SowmyaK) March 21, 2022
The double entendre appears in the fourth verse of JAY-Z’s aforementioned The Blueprint cut, which was produced by Just Blaze.
“I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in Hell,” he raps. “I am a hustler, baby, I’ll sell water to a whale/I was born to get cake, move on and switch states/Cop the coupe with the roof gone and switch plates.”
During a 2009 interview with XXL, JAY-Z and Just Blaze talked about the making of “U Don’t Know” and how it played a vital part in building their relationship.
“During that time, I had two rooms in Baseline,” Hov explained. “It was a big room that I was in, that I’d record in. Then it was a small room that Just would be in doing beats. What happened was, Just would peep his head in and hear what me and Kanye was doing and would just go back mad. Like, go back and just go [pounds fist on table], and just come in and be like, ‘Yo.’ And it was like this every day. It was like a heavyweight slugfest. For three days they was just knocking each other out. And I remember him playing that joint, and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’”
Just Blaze added, ‘I might’ve attacked that [beat] two or three times before I felt that I really nailed it. I was gonna flip that sample for Busta [Rhymes], then I ended up not doing it… That’s actually the record that got me comfortable in my relationship with Jay. That and ‘Song Cry,’ because the demo versions of those songs didn’t sound like the final product.”