25. Clique (Verse 2)
24. Illest Motherfucker Alive (Verse 2)
23. Nickels and Dimes (Verse 1)
22. New Day (Verse 2)
21. Picasso Baby (Verse 3)
20. Heaven (Verse 1)
"He's 6'2", how the fuck he fit in a new Bugatti / Awww, fuck it, you got me"
19. H*A*M* (Verse 2)
"I'm like Really, half a billi nigga, really? You got Baby money / keep it real with niggas, niggas ain't got my lady's money"
18. No Hook (Verse 2)
17. Light Up by Drake (Verse 2)
"The summer's ours, the winter too / top down in the winter, that's what winners do
And to these niggas I'm like Windows 7 / You let them tell it, they swear that they invented you"
16. Already Home (Verse 3)
"I’m in the Hall already, on the wall already / I’m a work of art, I'm a Warhol already
On another level, on another plane already / H-O-V, I got my own lane already"
15. Jockin' Jay-Z (Verse 2)
"That bloke from Oasis said I couldn't play guitar / somebody shoulda told him I'm a fucking rock star"
14. Oh My God (Verse 2)
"I'm in that Volvo, puffing on that la-la / ducking from the po-po, everytime I drive by"
13. Brooklyn (We Go Hard) (Verse 2)
"I father, I Brooklyn Dodger them / I jack, I rob, I sin / Aww man, I'm Jackie Robinson / Except when I run base, I dodge the pen"
12. We Made It Freestyle (Verse 2)
"Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much art talk / silly me rapping about shit that I really bought"
11. Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe Remix (Verse 2)
"It's a million dollars in it baby, Hilary Swank / Sitting next to Hillary, smelling like dank"
10. Show Me What You Got (Verse 1)
A verse that still gets a bad rap because it was the first single from Jay's most highly criticized album, Kingdom Come, SMWYG is actually a really good song, and this verse is the main reason. Hov has always referenced Michael Jordan heavily, but these are some of the best examples, tying in the 2-3 zone defensive scheme to a girl who's had just the perfect amount of tequila. He continues the Jordan reference, using MJ's comeback to warn the competition that they should quiet down now that Hovi's home.
"I am the Mike Jordan of recording / you might want to fall back from recording"
9. Somewhereinamerica (Verse 1)
A verse that spurred public interest because of the pop star it mentions, while containing far more important bars about the state of our society in regard to racism. Even the Miley line is meant to show us that while some people still discriminate against black culture, their kids are probably diving deep into it, making a twerk video of their own behind closed doors. He also goes on to predict the future, telling us how his album would go platinum before it even dropped, and how the subsequent release would crash the internet (or just Samsung's site, but he was pretty close).
"Yellow Lambo in the driveway / a buck thirty-five, I'm on the highway
Frank Sinatra on my Sonos / Loud as fuck, I did it my way"
8. Free Mason by Rick Ross (Verse 2)
Jay has always laughed at the rumors of his affiliation to the Illuminati, but this verse houses his most memorable bark at those claims. After clearing up that confusion, he goes on to attempt convincing those same detractors of his affinity for Jesus, meaning he's the work of God, not Lucifer. He simply asks that you don't use the Illuminati as a cover for your fear of what Jay will do to our culture. He asks that if you fear him, to just say that, instead of questioning where his loyalties lie.
"Bitch, I said I was amazing, not that I’m a Mason"
7. What We Talkin' About (Verse 1)
The intro to Blueprint 3 was a powerful one, as it was the first time we had heard from Jay in a while, and he had a lot to get off his chest. He hushed all the naysayers by lyrically shrugging his shoulders and casually dismissing all their beefs with him. He says he won't even address the topics of Game, Jim Jones, and Dame Dash, while letting you know he's turning his back if there's anything less than facts being told. He uses the rest of the verse to clarify the motives of his music, saying that his crack gun references aren't meant to glorify, rather to warn of their dangers. Message received.
"What we talking 'bout fiction, or we talking 'bout fact / You talking 'bout fiction? Hold up, pardon my back"
6. Who Gon Stop Me (Verse 2)
One of the the most aggressive flows for Hov on the list, he keeps his bars short so he can spit them rapid fire to keep up with Flux Pavilion's insane drums and synths. While most of the song is quick back-and-forth bars between him and Kanye, Jay gets a little breathing room at the end, and delivers this gem. There's lines detailing how he avoided the grasps of the law, only to legally steal at the casino a few years later, and even one about a medical condition where he can't use tv antennas.
"Graduated to the MoMA / and I did all of this without a diploma"
5. Seen It All by Jeezy (Verse 2)
Although Jay frequently rhymes about his former life as a drug dealer, we rarely hear about it in such detail as on Jeezy's new single. There's been a lot of artists coming around in recent years talking about their...skiing adventures, we'll call them. Jay most likely got tired of hearing all the fiction and wanted to let you know just what went down before he was selling strictly legal dope in the form of insane verses like this. Jeezy and Jay have a long history of amazing collaborations, this one taking the cake...cake cake cake cake (sorry, had to give the "Pound Cake" chirpers in the comment section something to reference).
"Flew him back to the States / park 92 bricks in front of 560 State"
4. Lost One (Verse 1)
The entire theme of the song overall is once-important people in Jay's life becoming not-so-distant memories, and his explanations of why the cord had to be cut. The first verse in particular speaks on the recently crumbled partnership of Hov and Dame Dash, Kingdom Come having come out after the two had split and dissolved Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay addresses Dame, and others like Kareem Biggs, taking too much credit for his career with bars like the opening one on the track. Throw in some dope fame as a drug analogies, and you have one of Jigga's most introspective cuts ever.
"I heard motherfuckers saying they made Hov / Made Hov say, Ok so, make another Hov"
3. Niggas In Paris (Verse 1)
If you attended the "Watch the Throne" tour, you may or may not be sick of this one, as they performed it double-digit times in many cities. That sentiment notwithstanding, this was the hottest song on the planet for a long time, and deservedly so. Stylistically, it was far ahead of its time, and Hov came correct with one of the most memorable verses in his storied career. The iconic first few bars reference Hov getting fined by the NBA for visiting the Kentucky Wildcat locker room after their national championship win, which is a strict no-no for sports agents. Tisk, tisk Mr. Carter. Thankfully he made the transgression though, or who knows what this verse would've sounded like. Probably still fire though, if we're being honest with ourselves.
"Psycho. I'm liable to go Michael, take your pick / Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6"
2. 3 Kings by Rick Ross (Verse 3)
Ricky No Shirts and Jay have a long history of collaborating on bangers, and while this may not be the best overall song they both appear on, this was by far Hov's best effort. He starts off by telling his competition they can't even walk in his daughter's socks (yet alone her shoes!) before starting to literally negotiate his next deal with Live Nation directly on wax. We go on to find out this was actually a freestyle Hov laid down for DJ Khaled, leading right into a slick Max B reference (FREE MAX B!). The instrumental called uncle and gave up before The God MC was finished, so he just went acapella towards the end and bodied the dead air.
1. Success (Verse 1/2)
This wasn't even fair to the rest of the list, as it feels like 2 whole verses, rather than one really long one with a quick break to catch a breath. Regardless, this is one of Jay's hardest verses ever, period. Not to mention the significance anytime him and Nasir hop on a track together, especially at this time when the relationship was still being mended. The message in Hov's verse was basically "Mo Money, Mo Problems", letting the listener know that your troubles don't stop once you become successful, albeit somewhat sarcastically. I'm sure we'd all love to have apartments at the Trump we've only slept in once. Throw in the realest advice ever from American Gangster's Dominic at the beginning, and you have yourself a certified classic.
Come get your Monday Top 10 list fix as we run through the best Jay Z verses since he came back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5 (it ain't to play games with you).
When dissecting a massive catalog such as Hov's to rank his best verses, you really have to break it up. It would be like ranking the Top 10 sports cars ever made, you'd have to go by decade to make it more feasible. So we've decided to tackle everything Tha God MC has done post-retirement, Kingdom Come and forward to the present. Obviously, we're ignoring about a decade's worth of classics, but we'll save that list for another day if (more likely, when) Duke submits something stupid like "Top 10 Schoolboy Q Bucket Hats". But we digress, let's get to the list.
As usual, we'll hit you with the Top 10, plus some honorable mentions that just missed the cut. Anytime we do a list that has as many possible outcomes as this one, we expect some heated debate, as some of it comes down to personal preference. Should you disagree with out list, state your case in the comments and let us know what verses we may have missed. Make sure you to holla at us on Twitter with your ideas for future Top 10 lists, too!
[Editor's note: Fuck it, this was way too hard to narrow down, let's super-size it this week with a Top 20. Deal? Deal.]