Shawn Carter. Hov. The Jiggaman.He goes by many names. But to the world at large, he’s simply Jay Z. For over 20 years, the Brooklyn native has held sway over the rap universe to a degree that’s staggering. He’s notched ten consecutive No. 1 albums, eleven if you count his collaboration with Kanye West, Watch The Throne. His shelves at home groan under the weight of twenty-one Grammy awards. He’s on the verge of becoming the first billionaire in hip-hop. Oh, and today he will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
More than his status as a mogul and a tastemaker, it’s the music that continues to define Jay Z. His catalog is as impressive as any artist from the last sixty years of popular music, and the task to pick out even one hundred favorites leaves some impressive selections on the cutting room floor. Seriously, this was an agonizing exercise. Nevertheless, I powered through and I present the twenty best songs that Jay Z ever recorded ranked in order.