Things have been pretty quiet within the Carter camp, yes there was this whole worldwide joint tour with Beyonce, and yes there was all that lift crap with Solange –which was obviously a publicity stunt- but as there hadn’t been anything to look forward to musically, and as I’d already covered both Eminem and Kanye, it seemed somewhat obvious to follow up with a list of JAY Z’ 30 Greatest Songs. Here’s part one- numbers 30-20.
30. FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt (ft Rick Ross) Magna Carta Holy Grail
One of, if not the only saving grace from JAY Z’ latest studio album. With Rick Ross opening the gritty near-trap track, Hova comes in and reminds everyone whose album this is. Production courtesy of Vunylz left a lot to do from the pair, and with lines like ‘Hov keep gettin’ that dinero, got it // Even if a nigga gotta Robert, get it?’ you just wish the rest of the album followed in suite.
29. Drake – Light Up (ft JAY Z) Thank Me Later
Everyone cries about Pound Cake as if it’s some kind of modern day rap anthem, which leaves the second pairing of JAY Z and Drake often slept on. But after the shoddy Blueprint 3 track Off That, the duo showed exactly why it was such about a hyped collaboration. The beat was hard-hitting, the chorus was very Drake, perfect for Jigga to make this bitch light up.
28. The Bounce (ft Kanye West) The Blueprint 2
While The Blueprint 2 was criticised for its plethora of guest spots from TLC to Killer Mike, and of course its ridiculous size- it certainly had a few gems. In this instance it comes in the form of The Bounce, a massively underrated track with Timbaland at the helm, with Kanye throwing us a diamond guest spot too.
27. Otis (with Kanye West) Watch The Throne
The ipso-facto lead single of JAY Z and Kanye West’s collaborative LP following the forgotten-about H.A.M. It of course famously sampled Otis Redding’s classic Try A Little Tenderness, it ultimately encapsulated everything Watch The Throne was about- the riches, the bitches, and everything that goes with being among the greatest rappers of all time.
26. Excuse Me Miss (ft Pharrell) The Blueprint 2
Another one of the few gems weaved within The Blueprint 2, the typically jazzed-up production with a trademark soulful hook were key to one of Hova’s standout tracks from TBP2. The song was so good it received a Grammy nomination for best rap song, but let’s be honest it was never going to beat Eminem’s Lose Yourself.
25. New Day (with Kanye West) Watch The Throne
In my opinion, one of the most underrated tracks from the duo, in contrast to the egotistical themes of WTT, New Day took a more sincere turn. With Nina Simone’s Feeling Good being recycled continuously through the years, the Kanye/RZA take on the classic was home to some of the pair’s most potent lyrics such as ‘sorry Junior, I already ruined ya’.
24. Beyonce – Crazy In Love (ft JAY Z)
Arguably the song that gave birth to Beyonce as the the serious solo queen she’s become, with JAY Z at her side. The brass-brimming chart hunter goes down as one of the defining songs of the 2000s in both pop, hip-hop, soul and R&B.
23. Can I Get A..? (ft Ja Rule & Amil) Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life
Can I Get A..? was a lot more of a success than you might have thought. Despite it reaching the top 25 in both the UK and the US, it acted as a single for the soundtrack to the blockbuster film Rush Hour. It was also famously sampled in Fatman Scoop’s anthemic Be Faithful, and shed light on a then-unknown Amil, and still only a promising Ja Rule- talk about having a legacy.
22. Thank You – The Blueprint 3
The brass production courtesy of the always reliable combination of Kanye West and No I.D. really does have an air of Public Service Announcement about it, and after the mediocre Blueprint 3 opener- What We Talkin’ About, it resurrected the album and led you to the even better follow up- D.O.A.
21. A Dream (ft The Notorious B.I.G. & Faith Evans) The Blueprint 2
Paying homage to the legendary B.I.G. in the best way possible- a gritty reinvention of his classic Juicy. With Faith Evans at the helm, a driven guitar, infectious record scratches, and dark piano-powered themes, it gives Hov’ a chance to explain a dream he’d had where Biggie had spoke to him in which telling him ‘keep doing your thing, say no more’.
20. Lil Wayne – Mr Carter (ft JAY Z) Tha Carter III
While many slept on this diamond collab, I think it needs some real recognition as one of JAY Z’ greatest guest spots. You have to remember that back in when Tha Carter III was being released, Lil Wayne really was running to the spot as the greatest rapper in the world, so while it gave Weezy a few more record sales having Jigga on the album, it allowed JAY Z to show that that position was already taken.
So there you have the first edition of JAY Z’ Greatest Songs- numbers 30-20, to keep reading on and catch the second part of the series, you can read numbers 19 through to 11 here.