“I’m so far ahead of my time I’m ’bout to start another life, look behind you I’m ’bout to pass you twice.” Jay Z, 2002 Hovi Baby
Arguably the best rapper alive, Shawn Carter AKA Jay Z, Jigga, Hova, has produced hit after hit after hit selling more than 100 million records to date worldwide and still rising. His signature flow and creative word play can be heard over Beyonce’s Crazy In Love, DÃ?Â©jÃ?Â vu & Upgrade You as well as doing collaborations with industry heavy hitters such as, Kanye West, Eminem, Talib Kawli, Big Boi (Outkast) and the Notorious B.I.G to name a few.
The Marcy Project native is currently the CEO of Island Def Jam records after spawning a successful ten year rap career, not a bad turn out from an ex drug dealer. Among Jay Z’s hits I personally put a select 10 on my Top Ten Jay Z list. This list was composed from various songs due to content, style, word play or overall concept behind the song. I am not going to rattle off the same top ten most radio’s and MTV may choose, to be completely honest with the exception of Jay Z’s 1998 international hit “Hard Knock Life” I don’t care for any of his singles. The real gems are on the numerous albums he’s produced over the years and my list is as follows.
1.Hovi Baby from the Blueprint 2: The Gift. This song is my number 1 Jay Z song because of his ridiculous lyrical word play. The song from start to finish is an instant quotable with lines like, “Back to the future gotta slow up for the present, I’m fast/niggas can’t get past my past.” As well as “Can’t no livin’ person contest him/only two rested in heaven can be mentioned in the same breath as him”, and “7 straight summers, critics might not admit it/but nobody in rap did it quite like I did it/if you done it I did it before/you get it, I had it/got mad at it and don’t want it no more’, “did it different/did it better/did it nice/did the impossible then did it twice.”
2.Hard Knock Life from the Life and Times of Shawn Carter Vol. 2. This song cemented Jay Z’s place in hip-hop by sampling the theme from Annie. This song is my number 2 because it’s pure hip-hop. It’s an anthem for the streets from someone who knows the streets. It’s a song that tells everyone from the streets that through struggle you can still shine.
3.Moment of Clarity from the Black Album. The beat on this song is just bananas and the hook in the song signifies his extensive album history; “Thank God for granting me this Moment Of Clarity, this moment of honesty (the world will feel my truth) from a Hard Knock Life Time to the Gift and the Curse I gave you Volume after volume of my worst (the world will feel my truth) I built the Dynasty from being one of the realest nigga out/way beyond a Reasonable Doubt/from the Blueprint beginin’ to the Black Album endin’ listen close & hear what I’m about.”
4.You don’t know from the Blueprint. Another song that showcases just how immensely creative Jay Z’s word play is and how limitless is vocabulary can be. The beat armed with an energetic guitar riff, sounds perfect with Jay Z’s style. The most remember able line from the song is “I’ll sell ice in the winter, I’ll sell fire in hell/I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well.”
5.This Can’t Be Life from the Roc-La-familia album: The beat produced by Kanye West is a heartfelt song about the childhood Shawn had when he grew up. It is not a sympathy song but in this song Jay Z gives you a piece of himself in a more personal way. It’s very sad but I love it anyway.
6.Meet the Parents from the Blueprint 2 the Curse. This song is has a very original concept. Jay Z paints a perfect picture of how small the world really is and how two paths cross with no warning. I highly recommend listening to this song; it’s genuinely a creative and original song.
7.The Take Over from the Blueprint Album. This song is a straight lyrical assault against Nas and Mobb Deep (two artist he had beef with in 2002-2004) displaying personal insults about both artists over a beat that was the hardest I’ve heard yet. This is the battle song to hear.
8.Feelin’ It from the Reasonable Doubt Album. I really like the beat on this song. It’s from the first album released from Jay Z and the first song I heard by him. It’s cool and mellow but he doesn’t hold back the picture he paints of the street and drug life.
9.Money, Cash, Hoes from the Life and Times of Shawn Carter Vol 2. This song features DMX (in his prime) it’s just a song played in the clubs and to bump to in the car or anywhere basically. My favorite line from this song is “I know they ‘gon criticize the hook on this song/like I givva fuck I’m just a crook on the song.”
10.Can’t Knock the Hustle. This song is hot period!