With my impending move to New York, I’m getting closer and closer to finally meeting the big Homie, Jay Z. But until then, I’ll have to settle for catching him at the SAP Center in San Jose tomorrow night with some fellow dsk alums. To hold me over until tomorrow night, I’ve gone ahead and listed some Jay-Z tracks that you have missed throughout the years…
Check them out.
1. “Can I Live” 1996
I’ll begin with arguably my favorite Jay Z song from my favorite Jay Z album. “Can I Live” was released on Hova’s 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt. The Irv-Gotti produced cut highlights both the ups (“at the time it never bothered me. At the bar, getting my thug on properly”) and downs (“my crew and me commit atrocities like we got immunity”) of the drug life. The song is largely underrated because the album itself tends to be overlooked. Not for lack of quality, ask any Jay Z fan and chances are it’s their favorite rap album, but because it came out during the celebrated mid 90’s of hip-hop. And Jay’s debut gets overlooked behind Biggie’s charisma, Nas’ prodigal talent and Tupac’s bravado.
2. “Heart of The City (Ain’t No Love)” 2001
Another classic song off a classic album. Recently Jay Z named “The Blueprint as his “second, or third” favorite album from his category. Heart of The City is like Kate Beckinsale. You forget about her, she leaves your mind, but when you see her on screen you remember “oh fuck, this chick is bad.” That’s kind of how “Heart of The City” fits into the Blueprint. You know it’s good and it’s there, but it’s not until it shows up on your “Biggie” Pandora station that you remember how beautiful of a song it is. “Heart of The City” also makes this list because it was the first time I had heard of producer Kanye West.
3. “Dear Summer” 2005
Ok, while technically not a Jay Z song, as it appeared on Memphis Bleek’s “534” album, “Dear Summer” makes the list for it being a brief, poignant sign off to Hova’s favorite season. “Well I do this in my slumber, summer. I ain’t one of these half ass new comers”. It’s also a testament to Jay-Z loyalty that he would take a mid-retirement hiatus to hop on his often-maligned pupil’s work. The fact that Memphis Bleek never took off despite having Jay Z’s full support still baffles me.
4. “Put On Remix” 2008
Jay Z hopped on a hard track and made it that much more electric. Batting in between Jeezy and Kanye, Jay reminds listeners just what he did for New York. “I put Marcy on the map, I put Brooklyn on my back.” And goes on to challenge those (ahem, Dame Dash) that say Hova didn’t REALLY do it. “All these…taking credit for the work that I put in. If you really put me on, put yourself on in.” This remix also holds the record for being on my “Get F****** Paid” iPod playlist the longest. Since yup, 2008.
5. “My President is Black” 2008
Leave it to a 2008 presidential election to overshadow Hova’s lyrical excersice. In this 2008 song, Hova boasts about the president elect, while taking jabs at the one going out the door. “Never thought I’d say this shit. Baby I’m good. You can keep you pus, I don’t want no more Bush.” Although Jay has a brief verse on the Jeezy track, he makes the most of his time by lacing it with a bevy of double entetres and clever word play. “My President is black, in fact he’s half-white
So even in a racist mind, he’s half right. If you have racist mind you’ll be a’ight. My President is black but his house is all white.”
All in all, there is very little of Jay-Z work (save for ahem, the latter part of MCHG) that is below par. But for whatever reason, these are some jams that you may have missed.
I’d love to hear from you. Any songs you think that don’t get enough love or for some reason never became the breakout hit you envisioned? Holla at yo boy!
Hova, I’ll see you tomorrow.