There’s myriad factors that go into creating a hip-hop masterpiece — subject matter, cadence and rhyme structure, production values, and, of course, swagger. Jay Z‘s The Blueprint boasts boatloads of greatness in all of these areas. Half a decade into the rap game by this time, Hova was reaching the peak of his powers in 2001, and The Blueprint was the magnum opus fans were craving. Choosing only one lyrical dance partner — the red-hot rapper Eminem — Jay went in on The Blueprint, spinning tales of wealth, street savvy, love, infatuation, drugs, and even familial bonds.
Not one song is bad on this album, and the quality is a monument to Jigga’s obsession with high standards; it’s hard to rank these tracks in order. But this year The Blueprint turns 15, so let’s look back at the seminal classic and rank each song according to the content and impact.