Following yesterday’s instalment of JAY Z’ 30 Best Songs, I’m looking to continue the series with Part 2: Numbers 19 through to 11. The more eagle-eyed of you may have noticed how the first ten of my favourite JAY Z songs had been either collaborations or have features, however as we begin to get closer to the top spot, we see Jay take the helm on either solo efforts, or at least tracks found on his own LPs.
19. Made In America (with Kanye West) Watch The Throne
Another of many featured on Jay and Ye’s collaborative project Watch The Throne, Made In America capitalises on the idea of the American dream and how the pair have got there. Enlisting Frank Ocean fresh off the hype of his debut mixtape nostalgia ULTRA, and with Mike Dean behind the decks, it gave both rappers to speak their heart like with New Day, despite a largely egotistical album.
18. Run This Town (ft Rihanna & Kanye West) – The Blueprint 3
The near-posse cut lead single from a fairly mediocre album. Run This Town flew to the top of the charts here in the UK and gave early opinions of a solid forthcoming release form Jigga, while The Blueprint 3 may have fallen a little short, it may have been because Run This Town set the bar so high. The reason its only at number nineteen, is I feel Kanye may have murdered Jay a little bit with his crazy ‘joe-blow/shoe-string’ verse.
17. Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone Remix (ft JAY Z) Late Registration
‘Throw your diamonds in the sky if you feel the vibe, the rock is still alive every time I rhyme’. While it was one of many highlights from a Kanye album, talk about killing a verse, JAY Z made the track his on the official remix with an assortment of rhymes, including the now iconic ‘business man’ line.
16. Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love) The Blueprint
We all know by now how jazzed up and soul infused The Blueprint was, and this of course was largely down to Kanye West’s productional influence. Of course Bobby Blue Bland’s anthemic tune of the same name was sampled and ultimately solidified the aura of The Blueprint, in contrast with the gritty all-out rap aesthetic of prior releases.
15. Numb/Encore (with Linkin Park) Collision Course EP
While I’m not sure if this track reached the same heights in the US as it did here in the UK, in England this song is about as legendary as they get. Back when mobile phones could only have a couple of songs at a time, everyone had this track at some point, everybody still knows all the words, it’s just one of those classic tunes that everyone my age will always know and remember.
14. IZZO (H.O.V.A.) The Blueprint
Another solid cut from JAY Z’ The Blueprint, and one more occasion of Jay bringing his A-game to a Kanye West beat. Don’t believe me? It was actually Hov’s first top ten billboard hit, reaching number eight, and also arguably cemented his self-assigned pseudonym as Hova. The star-studded music video was also a nice added bonus.
13. Big Pimpin’ – Vol. 3.. Life and Times of S. Carter
While I’m not the hugest fan of JAY Z’ Life and Times series, one of a few tracks that stood out was Big Pimpin’. While the lyrics, ‘concept’ and general themes of the song may seem a little dated here in the present day, the beat and omnipresent chemistry between Jay and Timbaland is best made evident in the horn-powered Big Pimpin’.
12. Hard Knock Life – Vol. 2.. Hard Knock Life
Most of the world rank this a lot higher than number twelve, and to be honest while I’m listening to it I’m starting to reconsider my choice, but it’s only due to the quality of the top ten that Hard Knock Life finds itself here. Remaining one of JAY Z’ most renowned hits, and still somehow his biggest selling over the years, the production courtesy of The 45 King allowed Jigga to continue his meteoric rise to the top of the rap kingdom.
11. Can’t Knock The Hustle (ft Mary J Blige) Reasonable Doubt
In my opinion, Reasonable Doubt doesn’t quite reach the quality of The Blueprint, and that’s pretty much down to opinion. However, Can’t Knock The Hustle capitalised on the place jazz and soul had in rap and enlisted the always soulful Mary J Blige to provide a symphonic hook that sat against a proper all-out beat. They seriously don’t make them like this anymore.
For the final part of JAY Z’ Greatest Songs, click here.