From The Black Album, Jay Z had no qualms in telling us he considered himself the “best rapper alive” here. Even cosigned by President Obama, Hov taught us when in doubt, “go and brush your shoulders off”.
Brooklyn’s Finest (1996) Reasonable Doubt
A contender for possibly one of the best collaborations of all time, Jay Z and Biggie rap back-to-back on this track.
When this dropped, Hov was still on the come up whilst B.I.G was pretty huge in the game. Although they had love for each other, the two legends were competitive when making this. Wallace tried to brush off Jay as if he was no test for him, and Jigga aimed to prove his was on the same level as Biggie.
Big Pimpin’ (2000) Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter
ALWAYS the ultimate club banger, Jay Z got together with UGK on this track produced by Timbaland to talk about his pimpin’ lifestyle .
We guess that this song is far from an accurate description of Hova's current ways with wifey Beyonce and baby Blue.
Produced by Knobody, Sean C, Dahoud Darien and featuring the glossy vocals of Mary J. Blige, Hov taught us that you can’t judge the way people make their money. This track was released as the third single from Jay’sReasonable Doubt album.
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (1998) Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
Throughout his career, Jay Z has certainly proved that he is from the "school of hard knocks".
On one of Hov’s most commercially successful tracks, he discusses hustlin’ to make it to top, whether you are selling drugs on the street corner, or stripping to pay your college tuition. The now-multi-millionaire rapper is fully aware it’s a hard knock life.
99 Problems (2004) The Black Album
What a legendary cut from Jay Z. Hov gave it to us in the realest way he knew, telling us a tale of being stopped by suspicious cops and escaping a search in his drug laced car.
This joint never gets old.
Can I Live (1996) Reasonable Doubt
Jigga got plenty off his chest as he gave us two verses filled with bars in this cut off Reasonable Doubt. Jay wonders if he can make it with his lifestyle (at the time) of dealing drugs and committing crimes.
Run This Town (2009)
The Blueprint 3
It’s safe to say that Jigga runs a lot of things in the rap game as well as numerous business ventures. Bringing his Roc signee Riri and Yeezy onto the track, this was a solid Platinum hit from The Blueprint 3.
Ain’t No Nigga (1996) Reasonable Doubt
Jay bragged about keeping it down for his lady, lacing her in the finest Versace, buying her diamonds and keeping her more than satisfied in the bedroom. A 16 year-old Foxy Brown also needs a special mention here for providing an equally epic verse on the track.
Jigga began to gain wider recognition when “Aint No Nigga” was used on the soundtrack of Nutty Professor.
Encore (2003) The Black Album
Jay set up precedent for his future encores here showing his true level of stardom.
“Encore” was packed with names including the vocals of John Legend, Don Crawley, GLC and Kanye West who also produced this cut. The song of course gained even more popularity when he collaborated with Linkin Park to mash it up with their track “Numb”. We give you both versions below.
I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me) (2000) The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
Alongside Juice, Pharrell and some great Neptunes production, this is another banger that has always fitted in well in the club.
In his pre-Beyonce days, we’re sure Jay had the hottest chicks around him and we also see that Lil Kim can barely keep her hands off him in this video.
On To The Next One (2009) The Blueprint 3
From The Blueprint 3, Jay Z is on the money in describing his visionary self here. Featuring Swizz Beatz, this track is very much reflective of Jay’s life as he continues to look for the next bigger and better project.
Jigga sums up his power and success so accurately with the line, “I don’t get dropped, I drop the label”. Of course, not long before the release of The Blueprint 3, he left Def Jam to create his own label Roc Nation.
Otis (2011) Watch The Throne
"Otis" showed the beautiful relationship between Kanye and his “big brother” Jay Z at its best. Ye worked the production as Hov and him drop verses on their swag and lavish lifestyles. This unstoppable collaboration really shook up the rap game in 2011.
Songcry (2002) The Blueprint
A rare emotional ballad from the rapper off The Blueprint, Hov rapped about a breakup which happened because of his own neglect and infidelity. Hip hop is not quite used to seeing grown men cry, so Jay shed his tears through the song itself.
Niggas in Paris (2011) Watch The Throne
Jay and Ye balled so hard they ended up in Paris. We couldn't very well leave this one off the list.
Arguably one of the best tracks (at least one of the most played tracks) from the Watch The Throne album, Jay Z and Kanye went cray on this record which would be encored on the "Watch The Throne Tour" in Paris 11 times.
Public Service Announcement (2003) The Black Album
“Public Service Announcement” is essential to any Jay Z gig. Mastered by Hov’s producer of preference Just Blaze, this is very much a crowdpleaser.
U Don’t Know (2001) The Blueprint
Jay Z along with Roc-a-Fella’s newest signing at the time M.O.P gave us some fierce fighting talk, blowing rival rappers out of the water. Jigga even metaphorically speaks about killing his competition:
“Know them guns on full service, ready to fire/One body, two body, three body, four”
Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator ’99) (1999) Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
Over this dope beat produced by Timbaland, Jay Z raps his ass off as he proved to the world that he was deserving of a place amongst the top hip hop artists labelling himself the “Originator.”
Izzo (H.O.V.A.) (2001) The Blueprint
Another track produced by Yeezy, Hova gave us bars about hustling drugs, and the shady nature of record execs. As Jay says, “Like I told you sell drugs; no, Hov' did that/So hopefully you won't have to go through that.”
Jigga That Nigga (2002) The Blueprint
The Roc Nation star shows how hard he stunts, commanding respect from his high-end lifestyle. Jay even brags about the size of his house, “You have to film MTV Cribs for a week”.
Jay Z is way too cool for Molly, instead he rocks his designer of choice Tom Ford. In fact, in his verses he shits on today’s “wannabees” who front on Twitter and Tumblr as he pisses “Bordeaux and Burgundies”.
Regrets (1996) Reasonable Doubt
Jigga does some much-needed venting on this track. He offers the advice he’s learned through his drug dealing.
“In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets”.
Jay discusses pushing his loved ones to the limit and also laments over the loss of a close friend.
Can I Get A. (1998) Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
This joint was quite the classic with production from Irv Gotti and Lil Rob. Hova spat verses about women who love men for their money a.k.a. gold-diggers. Joined by Ja Rule, he also gave the female perspective which was rapped by Amil, defending the ladies for wanting a man to be able to transport her in style (meaning, without a bus pass).
Along with Eminem, Jigga declared themselves outlaws for their approach to overcoming their own struggles. Here they spit about their respective fatherless lives and drug-dealing, amongst other things, making for an extremely memorable collaboration off The Blueprint.
Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)... (2007) American Gangster
Jay Z shows his gratitude to a lot of people on this record as he celebrates his accomplishments (drug-related), from the “lame niggas with bad aim”, to his “Nike shoebox” which held the money he made and even the “brown paper bag” which is so essential in the deal.
The track includes a number of star-studded guests as does the video minus his good buddy Kanye.
Young Forever (2010) The Blueprint 3
With Mr. Hudson off Kanye’s GOOD Music, Hova addresses aging in the rap game declaring that he will be forever young, his name will always be relevant in rap history. Jay gives us some dope verses as he cements his legacy in hip hop.
D’Evils (1996) Reasonable Doubt
This Reasonable Doubt joint gives us an anthem for the struggle to get money which Jay describes as the devil. The rapper goes in depth, touching on violence, religion and poverty.
Gotta Have It (2011) Watch The Throne
This caught our attention with those off the chain samples. Jay and Ye rap about being undermined by mainstream America while stuntin’ about the big time money they make.
Dead Presidents (1996) Reasonable Doubt
This version didn’t appear on the Reasonable Doubt album but it was the promotional single for the record. “Dead Presidents” arrived amidst the brewing beef between Jay and Nas, both of whom would take shots at each other in different records.
It’s often a topic of much discussion whether this or "Dead Presidents II" was better, let us know your choice in the comments.
"Come and Get Me" (1999) Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter
Jay has always been straight gangster and stepped up to his haters, summoning them, “Come and get me," on this 1999 cut.
HNHH gives you 30 memorable album tracks from one of the biggest hip hop legends of our time, as he celebrates his birthday today.
Now aged 44, Jay Z's career statistics are mind-blowing. He has released 21 albums, has 123 singles to his name, plus several business ventures, and according to Forbes last year, he is estimated to have a net worth of $500 million. He owns Roc Nation which houses some of the biggest names in music. Shawn Carter really needs no introduction.
What’s more shocking is that he’s still going. Jigga is undoubtedly one of the best rappers alive. From the 1990s to the present, he has given the rap game some amazing music. This list of Jay Z’s album tracks could have easily been a lot longer and this does not even include his featured tracks.
We’re pretty sure that Jay is going to be celebrating his birthday in style. So what better way for you to pay homage to this hip hop heavyweight than by bumping some of his biggest tracks?