Jay-Z Top 8 Verses -- by Angus Crawford, October 2006
In honor of Jay-Z's first career of eight years (1996-2003), I decided to make a list of his eight best verses. This is just one person's opinion and there were a lot of verses that were tough to leave off. Post your favorites in the forum section and I'll respond.
8. "The Takeover" 3rd Verse - The Blueprint
Went from Nasty Nas to Esco Trash/ Had a spark when you started now you just garabge/ Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all/ To your bodyguards Oochie Wally verse better than yours
I sampled your voice you was using it wrong/ You made it a hot line I made it a hot song/ And you ain't get a coin nigga you was get fucked then/ I know who I paid god Search Light Publishing
The greatest diss song ever in my opinion. A lot of people think Nas won the battle, but The Takeover had clever disses compared to the cheap and elementary disses of Ether, which Jay proved he could do on the freestyle "Super Ugly".
7. "22 Twos" 1st Verse - Reasonable Doubt
I don't follow any guidelines/ Cause too many niggas ride mines/ So I change styles every two rhymes
I've been around this block too many times/ Rocked too many rhymes/ Cocked too many nines too
The memorable lines do not do this verse justice. Count along because he says 22 to, too, or twos. Originally a freestyle and sounds just as organic as one to this day.
6. "PSA" 1st Verse - The Black Album
Allow me to reintroduce myself
Fresh out the frying pan and into the fire/ I be the music biz number one supplier/ Flyer than a piece of paper bearing my name/ Got the hottest chick in the game wearing my chain
Maybe the most memorable verse from the entire Black Album. Put this record on anytime and anywhere and everyone will be rapping along to the entire verse.
5. "Dopeman" 3rd Verse - In My Lifetime Vol. 3 Life and Times of S. Carter
Blind folded expected to walk a straight line/ Mine molded taught to love you and hate mine/ Climbed over it at an early age Jay shined/ Fuck the system at Lady Justice I blaze nine
I'm a prisoner of circumstance/ Frail nigga, I couldn't much work with my hands/ But my mind was strong/ I grew up where you hole you blacks up/ Trap us expect us not to picks gats up/ Where you drops your crack off by the Mack trucks/ Destroy our dreams of lawyers and actors
Vivid storytelling as Jay delivers his verse like he is on the stand telling it to the judge in a Rashomon-esque way. Not the type of topics he is known for, but still a great verse.
4. "U Don't Know" 2nd / 3rd Verse - The Blueprint
I sell ice in the winter / I sell fire in hell / I am a hustler baby I'll sell water to a well
And if somebody would have told them that Hov would sell clothing/ Not in this lifetime wasn't in my right mind/ That's another difference between me and them/ I smartened up opened the market up/ One million Two Million Three Million Four/ In 18 months 80 million more/ Now add that number up with the one I said before/ You are now looking at one smart black boy
I have seen Jay-Z in concert three times since The Blueprint came out and the instant this song starts the crowd goes nuts. Jay takes the swagger to another level.
3. "Can I Live" 1st Verse - Reasonable Doubt
I'm watching every nigga watching me closely / My shit is butter for the bread they wanna toast me
The youth I used to be soon to see a million / No more Big Willie my game has grown I prefer you call me William
It was tough picking the first verse over the second verse in this song but I did not want to include them both, so the second did not make the cut. Over a laid back Isaac Haye's sample, Jay gives insight into the hustler's lifestyle as only he can. Almost too hard to pick out a few lines.
2. "A Million and One Questions (remix)" - 12"; In My Lifetime Vol. 1 Streets is Watching contains non extended version.
What's the position you hold? / Can you really match a triple platinum artist buck for buck with only your single going gold?
Live ironic and what not / Put all this ice on the face of a watch just to make it hot
A brilliant response to all the critics and the pressure he felt after his first album and Big died. XXL put Jay on the first cover of their magazine with the headline "Greatest Rapper Alive". Pretty lofty standards to live up to for a man that had one album at the time.
1. "Intro" - Dynasty
The theme song to the Sopranos/ Plays in the key life on my mental piano/ Got a strange way of seeing life / Like I'm Stevie Wonder with Beads under the doo rag/ Intuition is there, even when my visions impaired
Never read the Koran or Islamic scriptures/ Only psalms I read was on the arms of my niggas / Tattooed so I carry on like I'm non religious
This may not be the most popular choice, but listen to this verse carefully. There are very few, if any, wasted words. The metaphors are crisp, and the imagery is his best.