Jay-Z, aka H.O.V.A., aka Jigga, aka Sean Carter, aka Mr. Beyonce, is coming off a universally lambasted and a commercial flop in Magna Carta…Holy Grail, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t love Jay. Jay-Z may have lost his King of Hip Hop throne to his Watch the Throne co-star and his former disciple/producer Kanye West (who we also gave top ten treatment recently), but Jay still owns the stage as well as any rapper and has wrangled up a whole slew of hits over his 17 year career. We spoke on Magna Carta…Holy Grail , Monday, now here is our Ten Favorite Songs from Jigga.
10. “Big Pimpin”
This song reminds me of MTV’s Total Request Live so much it almost drives me crazy. Carson Daly aside, this song spells out Jay-Z’s Swag with a capital SWAG, better than any song before it did.
No, this isn’t the version with Linkin’ Park, but rather the horn-heavy fiesta that makes for such a wonderful encore on Jay’s sets.
8. “Change Clothes”
“Change Clothes” is black-tie affair hip hop that really raised the classiness level of the whole genre. And it features production and vocals from the surprising hook man of 2013, Pharrell, who is ruling the summer with Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.
7. “Public Service Announcement”
A great majority of our top ten songs lie on Jay’s two best albums, The Blueprint and The Black Album, and “Public Service Announcement” shines nobly on the latter. The wailing organ, heavy percussion, and simple piano line make for a nice stripped backing to one of Jay’s strongest verse-for-verse songs.
6. “Ni**as in Paris”
The jack-in-the-box beat of “Ni**as in Paris” is nearly impossible to shake, especially when the two play it SEVEN TIMES IN A ROW LIVE! Not to mention the song includes some of the Jay and Ye’s most humorous lines.
Sampling the Doors “Five to One”, Hova uses one of the best rock samples in rap utilized outside the Beastie Boys and our number #1 song on this list.
4. “Can I Get A”
While the video looks unbelievably dated with clips from Rush Hour and images of Ja Rule, this song is still irresistibly fun and contains the same sort of freaky spirit that Missy Elliott perfected in the 90’s.
3. “On To the Next One”
“On To the Next One” is a completely relentless banger, with Jay-Z completely tenacious on every rhyme and Swiss Beatz putting together one of the coolest sounding songs in recent memory.
2. “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”
Long before Yeezy was calling himself Yeezus and singing “I Am a God”, Jay-Z proclaimed himself the Jehovah (or H.O.V.A.) of hip hop, but in a much more playful and much less crazy arrogant way. This also maybe takes the cake for hardest Jay-Z song to shake.
1. “99 Problems”
Collaborating with legendary rock producer Rick Rubin, our unanimous number #1 is a full-out blockbuster: it contains more memorable lines than Wedding Crashers and packs more punch than Rush Hour (yes that’s the second Rush Hour reference).
Wes – “Allure”
A very underrated early Jay-Z single in my opnion, laying the groundwork for “Change Clothes”, and even sounds strangely similar to Kanye’s “Flashing Lights”.
Todd – “Renegade”
Todd truly hates Eminem, so that tells you how great he thinks this song is that he pushed heavy for it despite Eminem’s guest verse.
Austin – “Nickles & Dimes”
Austin throws a little love Holy Grail…Magna Carta’s way with his miss, “Nickles and Dimes”, which probably has Jay’s strongest lyrical work on the album.