Let’s begin by stating the obvious: even a “bad” Jay-Z song still holds more value than the average man’s music. But some nights Jigga goes to the booth and throws together an ill-conceived song because his mind is on something more important like buying basketball teams, banging the biggest superstar in the world or trying to get Neef to lose his phone number. When these lapses in focus occur, the results are better than your average rapper’s attempts yet they sound lackluster in comparison to Jigga’s undeniable catalog. Just like MJ wasn’t allowed to put up “just 20” on a Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Jay shall never be granted an off lyrical performance on one of his own tracks.
In no particular order, here are 20 Jay songs that stand out as sub-par against the backdrop of Jigga’s much more polished products.
Do note that we didn’t include any songs where Jay was just a featured artists for a remix or collaboration. An undertaking of that magnitude would require much more space and time.
1. “(Always Be My) Sunshine” Feat. Foxy Brown & Babyface from In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997)
Jay went back to his original Bonnie in an attempt to recreate “Ain’t No Nigga” and failed. And who the hell invited Babyface to the studio session?
2. “F*ck All Night” Feat. Pharrell From The Blueprint2: The Gift & The Curse (2002)
Hov pushed his luck one too many times with Pharrell. “F*ck All Night” feels like a lazy song better suited for Snoop or an exclusive N.E.R.D. track. This is apples and oranges when compared to the likes of “Allure,” “Frontin’,” and “Excuse Me Miss.” But when you’re married to Beyonce and have a studio that floats on water, bumps in the road happen. Right?
3. “All Around The World” Feat. LaToiya Williams From The Blueprint2: The Gift & The Curse (2002)
Forgot this one even existed, right? Don’t feel bad. We forgot LaToiya existed. Quite the snoozer off BP Deuce.
4. “2 Many Hoes” From The Blueprint2 (2002)
Blueprint2 seems to be outweighing the rest of Jay’s discography here but it’s with good reason. Two-disc album may have inflated the Soundscan but also definitely created a bloated project. Furthermore, we think the fat, slacker version of Timbaland threw Hov this dud beat for free. Sometimes Timbaland songs are like Comcast deals where it’s cheaper to buy Internet if you throw in basic cable. With Tim, it seems like it’s cheaper for Jay to buy a sh*tty Timbaland beat to go with his dope ones. That has to be the only reason these songs get made.
5. “Pop 4 Roc” Feat. Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek & Amil From Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter (1999)
Ever been to a ghetto sock hop? Didn’t think so. All the more reason this track was unnecessarily created. Here’s to the short-lived Roc-A-Fella shiny suit era. *Pours out liquor for Amil*
6. “Anything” From Beanie Sigel’s The Truth (1999)
Much like number one, Jay went to the well one too many times in attempts to recapture a hit. “Hard Knock Life” was good. Leaving good enough alone would have been the best bet.