The 100 Best Jay-Z Songs

Courtesy of Complex.

This is sure to stir just a little debate, especially the Top 25. I know from experience that these lists are difficult to make, so I would focus more on what’s on there and what isn’t than the order. After all, this is just the opinion of one person. Imagine how hard it must’ve been to comb through somebody like Jay-Z’s catalogue and put 100 songs in order. 100. Everyone could take this list and put it in their own order, as there are songs in the 50’s that are in my Top 10. With that said….

You’ve heard the story countless times: No one wanted to give Jay-Z a record deal, so he was forced to create his own label. The single for “In My Lifetime” was one of Jay, Dame, and Biggs’ first experiments in pedaling music, and was mostly sold the old fashioned way: hand-to-hand out of the trunk of Damon Dash’s car.

“In My Lifetime’s” questioning of life’s meaning would generate enough buzz for super-indie label Payday Records to step up and offer the hungry upstarts a single-only deal. As fate would have it, Jay and Payday never saw eye to eye, so the original Roc Boys took their earnings and created their own imprint, Roc-A-Fella Records.

So you can look at the “In My Lifetime” single as the seed that planted the Roc. Although the record didn’t appear on either of Jay’s first two albums, it did find a home on the Streets Is Watching soundtrack some years later. But it was worth the wait: Big Jaz’s remix was far superior to Ski’s original.

Looking back, it’s almost unfathomable that no label was interested in signing Jay-Z. Thankfully he didn’t spend an entire lifetime waiting on one to do so. More than anything else, this record proves that if you want something done, sometimes you’ve gotta do it yourself.

What is the meaning of life? Not Jay-Z’s best song, but my favorite regardless. I thank Streets Is Watching for introducing me to this as a kid. I’m also glad the the sixth season of Entourage ended with this song; I almost lost my shit when I heard it. As far as I’m concerned, the show could’ve ended right there, but I’m glad I got to see Turtle become a millionaire. Play it on the first of every month, shout out to Frass King.

Link: The 100 Best Jay-Z Songs

1 Comment

  1. “To enlarge or illustrate this power and effect of love is to set a candle in the sun.” ~ Robert Burton

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