23rd March 2020
Jay-Z… many would debate that he is the Greatest of All-Time.
From Brooklyn, New York; Jay-Z has been active since the late 80s and his debut album Reasonable Doubt released in 1996 on Roc-A-Fella Records who were operating as an independent label at the time, is regarded a classic album by many.
This label has evolved into what we know as RocNation today; an entertainment agency in collaboration with Live Nation. Managing entertainers of all fields ranging from music to sports and also many venues under the Live Nation umbrella.
Jay-Z’s had a lot to speak about over the last 40 years and has pretty much seen it all in Hip-Hop along with Snoop, he’s seen many artists come and go and come and stay, collaborated with the likes of Biggie Smalls to Tyler, The Creator and everyone within that range.
I’ll be analysing my favourite songs featuring Jay-Z and another rap artist to see how they fared with the GOAT.
(Spotify version features “Real As It Gets”)
Biggie – I Love The Dough (feat. Jay-Z & Angela Winbush)
Jigga and Biggie take turns trading verses over this classic cut. The chorus provided by Angela Winbush allows Jigga and Biggie to focus purely on flow and lyricism.
Detailing their love for the possessions and services money brings, a classic concept performed so well.
Jay-Z – Coming of Age (feat. Memphis Bleek)
Jigga takes his subordinate under his wing on this record. A young Memphis Bleek coming from the same estates Jay-Z’s from.
Jay-Z acts as the teacher, educating Bleek about life on the streets, helping Bleek become street smart as his street credibility is on the rise.
(Check out part 2 on Jay-Z – Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life)
Jay-Z – Money, Cash, Hoes (feat. DMX)
Jigga brings along DMX for this track.
1998, Jay-Z and DMX were arguably the biggest Hip-Hop artists at the time both from New York. The following year, they had gone on a national tour around The United States with Method Man & Redman.
It only made sense for them to make this record, again… referencing the recurring theme of Hip-Hop; Money and Women…
Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel – This Can’t Be Life (feat. Scarface)
This song is coming from the Roc-A-Fella compilation; The Dynasty. Hov, Beanie and Scarface reminisce on their struggles early in life that helped and inspired them to get to where they are now.
Jay-Z – Renegade (feat. Eminem)
Renegade, a song favoured by the culture.
Jay-Z and Eminem reference the position they’re currently sitting in, released in 2001, both artist had grown into worldwide superstars and their influence had made them automatic role models, something they didn’t opt for as they’re renegades.
However, the reason this is considered such a classic is because it’s regarded as the one song Jay-Z unanimously got topped on whilst both in their prime, Eminem had brought his best bars along with him for this one.
Cam’ron – Welcome to New York City (feat. Jay-Z & Juelz Santana)
Killa-Cam and Bandana Santana, a part of the infamous Dipset crew hailing from Harlem, New-York. had called over Hov as they describe the essence of the city of New York.
Lupe Fiasco – Pressure (feat. Jay-Z)
Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, considered a classic by many purists and this song is a huge contribution to this. Released in 2006, Pressure features Lupe excising his flows and lyricism as a rapper feeling the pressure of going back to back with Jay-Z, and yet again; Jigga proves why Lupe has to bring his A-game to this match.
Lil Wayne – Mr. Carter (feat. Jay-Z)
The Souths biggest star Dwayne Carter (Lil Wayne) called over Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) to help open up this album. Another undebatable classic album. Lil Wayne is another artist that is debated as the greatest of all time, the title holds a heavy weight. Therefore he calls over his namesake as someone that can sympathise instead of empathise on the weight the title brings.
Jay-Z – Real As It Gets (feat. Young Jeezy)
Real As It Gets, a great record where Jay linked up with Young Jeezy. being an old time legend from the South in Atlanta; both endured dark pasts of hustling narcotics, they’re able to rise above to greatness and reference how legit that is.
Jay-Z & Kanye West – Otis (feat. Otis Redding)
Jay-Z and Kanye West had finally teamed up as a duo. This move was highly anticipated as Kanye has been signed to Roc-A-Fella since 2000, 11 years later they collaborated on an album; Watch The Throne.
Kanye and Jigga go back to back trading mini verses discussing their glamorous luxurious lifestyles. But Kanye really held his own with Jigga on this track, many would call it a draw if they were asked who performed better.
Rick Ross – 3 Kings (feat. Dr. Dre & Jay-Z)
3 Kings, a reference to the bible; The story of the three Kings of Jerusalem. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z make up two thirds of Hip-Hop’s billionaire’s, Rick Ross had recruited them to show his ambition on this track.
They each explain their personal journey on their way to the top, however; Hov drops a bunch of jewels and tips subliminally through his verse.
Drake – Pound Cake (feat. Jay-Z)
Drake felt the impact of having Jay-Z help him close out what i would consider his greatest album.
Pound Cake; a classic from the classic album; Nothing Was The Same, Drake goes in on how his climate is changing, how he’s approaching a level of greatness only a select few artists can relate to (Similar to Lil Wayne – Mr. Carter).
However, Jay-Z sounds rusty on this track, you could say Drake gets the better off him but Hov was far from his best, although this doesn’t take away from the greatness of this record, a classic no doubt.
Pusha T – Drug Dealers Anonymous (feat. Jay-Z)
Many debate on Pusha-T being the best at “drug dealer” raps, in most cases, they’re probably debating Jay-Z against him. Both artists flex their hustling lyricism over a sick beat.
Again, Jigga doesn’t bring his A-game however, still a great song.
Meek Mill – What’s Free (feat. Rick Ross & Jay-Z)
Meek Mill gets his hands on this classic Biggie sample; “What’s Beef?” and teams up with his label leader; Rick Ross and the great Jay-Z, being an old friend of the late great Christopher Wallace (Biggie).
Hov has re-discovered his inspiration, coming off another debatable classic album “4:44”; Hov completely takes over this track. Knowing the responsibility of complementing this classic Hip-Hop sample from his old friend, Jay-Z does not disappoint.
Jay Electronica – Ghost of Soulja Slim (feat. Jay-Z)
2020, a brand new climate, Jay Electronica releases possibly the most anticipated Hip-Hop album of all-time.
Signing to RocNation amidst a bidding war for his signature, Jay Electronica was considered a lyrical genius with so little to his name, literally, a total of around 30 minutes of music as the primary artist to his name over 13 years.
2020 arrived and he had finally dropped his debut album. To our surprise, 80% of the project features Hov.
In fact, the album opens with Jay and he proves his powers are still as sharp as ever with 32 years of experience.
The craziest thing about this list is how many classic projects he’s contributed to.
Something I just realised as I was writing this post. Whether he’s the Greatest of All Time will remain a debate but Jigga, Hov, Jay-Z, whatever you want to call him,
Truly is a Legend.