If you haven’t already, be sure to check out parts one and two of JAY Z’ Greatest Songs, but if you have, then in this final part you can expect to see in my opinion, JAY Z’ ten greatest songs. Of course this list is completely down to opinion, and most of it depends on which of Hova’s albums you prefer, me and my friend argue tirelessly over wether The Blueprint or Reasonable Doubt is his greatest album, with The Black Album closely following. In all honesty, I’ve never really been the biggest fan of the Vol.. series and that’s exactly why only a few tracks made the cut in this list, but either way, here you have it- JAY Z’ Greatest Songs Part 3: #10-#1.
10. Hola’ Hovito – The Blueprint
One of four cuts from The Blueprint to make the top ten, Hola’ Hovito capitalised on everything JAY Z stood for in rap, and everything Timbaland stood for in productional values- it ultimately epitomised them as artists, and was actually the only cut from Timbo’ to make the final LP.
9. D.O.A. (Death of Autotune) The Blueprint 3
On the whole, The Blueprint 3 was largely a disappointing album, not quite as anti-climactic as Kingdom Come or American Gangster, but nowhere near his greatest work. However, D.O.A. remains one of the album’s highlights, or maybe more so- one of the gems. Built around a guitar riff from John Mayer, D.O.A. demanded that ‘this ain’t for singalong’ and that ‘this ain’t for iTunes’.
8. Renegade (ft Eminem) The Blueprint
I know, I know, Renegade is definitely a lot better a song than to fall at number eight, but you have to remember this is a JAY Z list. When an artist kills your song in such a way that you remain slept on, on your own song, and the crippling resulting blow from Nas, I simply can’t rank it higher- despite the incredible structure, production (also courtesy of Eminem), lyrics and everything in between.
7. Notorious B.I.G. – I Love The Dough (ft JAY Z) Life After Death
Life After Death is one hell of an album that possessed the catchy chart topper Hypnotize, as well as the iconic Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems. But for me, the standout track from Notorious B.I.G.’s second studio album was the JAY Z featured I Love The Dough. While Biggie was as flawless as ever, and the beat was as 90’s and funky as the era encapsulated, a young Jigga brought his A-game and didn’t for one moment look out of place on a legendary piece of music.
6. Niggas In Paris (with Kanye West) Watch The Throne
Arguably one of the essential rap releases in recent years? A career making beat from Hit-Boy? Catchphrase worthy lines like ‘fish fillet’ and of course ‘that shit cray’? While the song remains one of the strongest songs from the rap duo, again as with Renegade, I can’t rank Niggas In Paris any higher because I feel Yeezy outranked Hov’ on this particular track, even though JAY Z’ contribution was still more than notable.
5. U Don’t Know – The Blueprint
Just Blaze remains in my opinion one of the most underrated names in hip-hop, and he made his mark on The Blueprint with three outstanding tracks, all of which have made this list. In this instance is the horn-powered U Don’t Know, built around a Bobby Byrd sample, the song preaches Jigga’s riches- both legally and illegally obtained, remaining one of the key JAY Z songs nearly ten years later.
4. Dead Presidents II – Reasonable Doubt
Do I need to detail what this song did for hip-hop? It acted as the lead single of the debut album from a then-little-known JAY Z, of course famously sampling another up-and-comer Nas. What this sample resulted in was one of, if not the greatest hip-hop feuds of all time and arguably made both rappers’ careers. In later years the two would become civil, but nobody in the world of hip-hop including Nas and Jay can forget what started it all.
3. Public Service Announcement – The Black Album
You didn’t think I’d forget about The Black Album did you? While the album is often tipped by many as JAY Z’ greatest album, Public Service Announcement is an unforgettable anthem from the LP. From the introductory piano chords, softly spoken intro from Hov’ and Blaze themselves, when that brass comes in you can’t help but wish your name was Hova too.
2. Song Cry – The Blueprint
Another Just Blaze produced track from The Blueprint. Song Cry is a symphonic rap ballad showing a never-(really)-before-seen vulnerable and regretful JAY Z profess his bitterness towards a tough break up. It explains his commitment to the game, and some feel it was an apology to both female fans for his negative portrayal of them, as well as an apology to all about his past dip into pop music. The layered composition and overall thought-provoking structure of Song Cry leave it as JAY Z’ best song from his best album.
1. 99 Problems – The Black Album
I think most of the world is in agreement that 99 Problems is JAY Z’ greatest song, and I’m no different. The Rick Rubin-heavy guitar-pioneered chart behemoth remains one of Jigga’s most quotable, rappable, and above-all recognisable tracks. The fact that someone can complain about all of the problems of a rapper/celebrity/black person, yet still retain an egotistical brag about having somebody like Beyonce by their side is nothing short of genius. Also, how jaw-dropping is the back-and-forth with the police officer?
So there you have it, in my opinion JAY Z’ 30 Greatest Songs. Again, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out parts one and two of this list, and if you liked it, be sure to check out my 30 Greatest Songs lists from other artists- Kanye West, Eminem and Odd Future.