Best Jay-Z Songs of All Time!

#25. Never Change – This marks a Kanye West debut of sorts. Kanye’s voice appears on the hook of this song from 2001. He doesn’t rap, but it’s cool to hear his voice this early in his development as an artist. As far as Jay’s concerned on this track… It’s more of what you would expect from the Jigga of this era. Tight lyricism, and great storytelling are a couple words that come to mind when describing this song…

#24. Moment of Clarity – “If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli. Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense, but I did 5 mill’ – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since”. Those are the types of memorable “bars” you can expect from this Jay in this one. In almost anyone else’s catalog this track would probably be “top 10”, but Jay-Z’s a different type of MC…

#23. Encore – MTV once came up with an idea that had the best rock group of the era (Linkin Park), and the best rapper ever (Jay-Z), collaborate on couple of songs so that they could then perform together for a” once in a lifetime” televised concert. The results from this “experiment” weren’t terrible. In fact, i kind of like the Linkin Park version of this particular song more than the original version…

#22. Izzo (H.O.V.A.) – Another summer anthem from Hova… This song has one of those hooks that will get stuck in your head for hours after you listen to it. If this is a problem for you, you might want to skip this one.

#21. The Watcher 2 ft. Dr. Dre, and Rakim – I think this has to be the most “underrated” Jay-Z song of all time! Not a soul speaks about this track, but they definitely should. Hov flows fatal on this one, not to mention it features two of hip hop’s most influential pioneers on it as well. These elements all combine to make this a song to remember..

#20. Brooklyn’s Finest ft. Notorious B.I.G – I have to be honest with you, i’m kind of disappointed with how this record turned out. I’m not saying this isn’t a good song or anything (it’s number 20 on my list), but this should’ve been an easy “top 5” considering who was involved. I wanted to “love” this track, instead of just “liking” it…

#19. Politics As Usual – I love the instrumental on this track! It gives the listener the feeling of cruising in their car on a cool summer day. Maybe I’m crazy for feeling that strongly about an instrumental, but that’s what I experience every time I listen this joint…

#18. Where I’m From – “I’m from the place where the church is the flakiest
And niggas is praying to God so long that they atheist. Where you can’t put your vest away and say you’ll wear it tomorrow ’cause the day after we’ll be saying, “Damn, I was just with him yesterday”. “Verse 2” of this song is one of my favorite rap verses of all time. Classic Jay here…

#17. Dirt Off Your Shoulder – This one’s a “fan favorite”. People who know nothing about hip hop can recite every word of this song…

#16. What More Can I Say – Jay-Z was on “fire” when how wrote this one. Some of the punch lines in this song hit like a sledgehammer! You definitely can’t accuse Jay of “falling off” during the “Black Album era” because it’s simply not true…

#15. Can I Live – Rappers love this song, it’s been referenced in countless tracks over the years. It’s one of the often forgotten gems from Jay’s classic debut album…

#14. Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99) ft. Jaz-O – Jay-Z reunites with his old “partner” Jaz-O for this uptempo jam. These two had a great chemistry “back in the day”, so as you would expect both rappers perform excellently together on this track. The hook is simple, but the flow is one of the most complex of Jay’s entire career…

#13. U Don’t Know – The remix of this song with M.O.P. is one of my favorite Jay tracks as well, but i give the original the slight nod over that version due to the “strength” of lyrical content found within the original…

#12. Money, Cash, Hoes – The beat on this song is fucking crazy. This is one of the earlier beats from legendary music producer Swizz Beatz. With beats like this, it’s no wonder why Jay has continued to collaborate with Swizz over the last twenty years… 

#11. Heart of the City – You could tell Jay-Z was feeling bitter when he wrote this record. For everything Jay had contributed to the “Hip hop culture” up to that point, people weren’t giving him the same level of respect as some of his contemporaries. Namely 2Pac and Biggie. Jigga clearly felt some type of way about this, and voiced his frustration on this track…

#10. Empire State of Mind – I think the main reason why people tend to not like Jay-Z’s work after he came out of retirement is because of songs like this one. You could call it “selling out”, I wouldn’t call it that though. He got more “pop” the deeper he got into his career. Being married to the biggest “pop” star in the world probably influenced this trend somewhat…

#9. D.O.A (Death of Auto-Tune) – This is the song that single handily destroyed T-pain’s career. Hov has a history of doing this to certain rappers. Mobb Deep and Busta Rhymes come to mind…

#8. Streets is Talking ft. Beanie Sigel – “Streets is Watching” is basically the “original” version of this song. So why isn’t that song on my list? For some odd reason, it is damn near impossible to find an unedited version of that song. Thus i prefer the “Streets is Talking” over the latter. Both versions are great for different reasons…

#7. 99 Problems – Easily the best hook Jay ever produced! Producer Rick Ruben works his magic on this track, giving it that “old school Beastie Boys/Run DMC” sound Ruben is best known for. This makes “99 Problems” the “biggest hit” on Jay-Z’s “final” farewell album. Damn, that’s a lot of apostrophes…

#6. Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) – If you were to tell someone in the late 90’s that soon a song from the “Annie” movie would be the chorus of a chart topping hip hop single, they would probably think you were naive or just plain stupid. In reality this is what actually happened. Not just that, but it’s arguably the biggest record of Jay-Z’s entire career. Who could’ve foreseen that happening?...

#5. Takeover – A lot of “shots” were fired in this one. Not since 2Pac was alive had we seen this level of “savagery” on a track. Jay tried to permanently “bury” Nas and Mobb Deep with this joint… Hey it didn’t happen, but it wasn’t due to a lack of trying on Jay’s part. Oh and for the record, “Takeover” is better than “Ether”… Just saying…

#4. A Million and One Questions (DJ Premier Remix) – “I know what y’all niggas asking yourself. Is he gonna ever fall off? NO!”. This is my favorite Jay-Z song ever! Why?… Because it’s just a really good track. The “bars” are memorable, and the “freestyle” flow Jay is known for is as potent as ever here…

#3. Big Pimpin’ ft. UGK – I think the “Big Pimpin'” instrumental would have to be considered the most “iconic ” instrumental of any Jay-Z song! There was no rapper who benefited more from the death of Biggie and 2Pac, then Jay-Z in the late 90’s. This song is synonyms with the “run” Jay had in this time period, where there was no longer any question of who “ruled” the hip hip kingdom. Adding southern legends UGK to the mix gave this record “mass appeal”, and probably Jay’s biggest hip hop record too date…

#2. Renegade ft. Eminem – When you think of  a”dream” track between the best rappers of an era, it usually sounds better in theory then it does in actual reality. This song right here, is a MAJOR EXCEPTION to that rule… Both rappers bring their “A” games here, which in turn creates the vibe of a real “competition” throughout the entire track. Both rappers want “the crown”, and neither rapper is willing to concede to their competition. So who winds up “wining” in the end? Most people would probably say Eminem took this one. Does this mean Eminem is a better rapper then Jay-Z? Hell the fuck nah…

#1. Dead Presidents II – When I think of “great” Jay-Z songs, this is usually the first song to pop into my head. I don’t think Jay was at his very best when he made his this track, but there was a certain level of ambition in the “Reasonable Doubt era”; that lacked in “2000’s era” Jay-Z, and beyond. Jay was still a major “underdog” to this point, and this was the song that really propelled him as an artist into the “mainstream” hip hop scene. Jay might not be perceived as the rapper he is today if it wasn’t for this very influential record…


Jay-Z Best Song “Features” of All Time: https://hiphopwontstop.blog/2017/06/22/10-best-jay-z-features-of-all-time/

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