Maybe the fact that he is the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame made Jay Z feel reflective and expansive. Maybe, with the impending release of his new album 4:44, Hov felt the need to provide some context for whatever his new project is going to be. Or maybe he was just bored in the waiting room while Beyonce gave birth to their twins, and turned to Twitter, like the rest of us do.
Whatever the reason, on Thursday, June 15th, Jay Z rediscovered Twitter, and it was absolutely epic. Not epic in the meme way, or in the sense of an “epic” fail, but legitimately, genuinely epic, because Jay Z is an icon and a legend in the world of rap, because he is arguably one of the Greatest Of All Time in hip-hop, and because he decided to list the rappers who influenced him as a writer and a rapper. Plus, he never tweets.
It’s hard to think of what the closest equivalent to this honor is the rap world; maybe the closest thing is being knighted by the King of England? It is the ultimate seal of approval, the stamp of quality from the highest name in the land: A Nike sponsorship and a five-star Zagat review, all rolled into one. The names on this list should now be considered Important in the realm of rap, with the capital “I” not just implied, but required.
The truly wild thing about Jay’s personal list is that there are all the old school names anyone would expect from a legend more than 25 years deep in the game: Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and his mentor Jaz-O, but there are also plenty of contemporaries like Drake, Lupe Fiasco, Future, Young Thug, Ab Soul, and Playboi Carti.