The 10 best Jay-Z lyrics span a long career in the hip-hop industry. Since his emergence as a superstar in the 1990s, Jay-Z has remained a trendsetter in rap music. His lyrics are as poetic as they are relevant, proving that Jay-Z is one of the best in hip-hop.
- “And no, I ain't perfect, nobody walkin' this earth's surface is” from “’03 Bonnie And Clyde” In a song sampled from rap legend Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z adds his own spin with these lyrics. Released on the 2002 album “The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse,” these lyrics show a level of humility that’s uncommon in rap music.
- “Am I under arrest or should I guess some mo'? / ‘Well you was doin fifty-five in a fifty-fo’” from “99 Problems” With hip-hop icon Rick Rubin on production duties, this song was destined to be among the best in rap. 2004’s “The Black Album” contained these lyrics. They’re a narrative of an unjustified traffic stop, where Jay-Z is harassed by local law enforcement.
- “Me give my heart to a woman? / Not for nothin, never happen, I'll be forever mackin’” from “Big Pimpin’” In the most ironic of the best Jay-Z lyrics, he eloquently declares his independence from commitment. Of course, the song was released on 1999's “Vol. 3…The Life and Times of S. Carter,” which was long before Jay-Z’s 2008 marriage to singer Beyonce’.
- “Do you need a balla? So you can shop and tear the mall up? / Brag, tell your friends what I bought ya” from “Can I Get A…” Some of the best lyrics in Jay-Z’s career came on 1998’s hit album “Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life.” These lyrics are a gritty kiss-off to gold-digging females. Jay-Z openly ponders what his romantic life would be like if not for his financial independence.
- “This ain't a number one record / This is practically assault with a deadly weapon” from “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune)” Frustrated with the rap industry’s reliance on computer technology, Jay-Z released this track in 2009. Featured on the album “The Blueprint 3,” these lyrics are a nonchalant declaration of Jay-Z’s bare-bones songwriting style.
- “I flow for chicks wishin’ / They ain't have to strip to pay tuition” from “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” Even with all his success, Jay-Z often references his less-than-ideal upbringings in his best lyrics. The 1998 album “Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life” contained this line, with Jay-Z eloquently describing his music’s intended audience.
- “Can't leave rap alone the game needs me / Haters want me clapped and chromed it ain't easy” from “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” Some of the best Jay-Z lyrics exhibit his personal and professional struggles. In these lyrics, from 2001’s “The Blueprint,” Jay-Z describes the stress present in his existence, while at the same time relating his persistent thoughts on retirement.
- “I snatch your girl cause your arm ain't strong enough / Plus ya don't stay in the studio long enough” from “The City Is Mine” Jay-Z’s second album, 1998’s “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1,” contains many lines that attempt to assert Jay-Z’s dominance. These lyrics are a duality within that same premise, placing a personal and professional theme on Jay-Z‘s self-confidence.
- “I been spending hundreds since they had small faces” from “Money Ain’t A Thang” The simplest of the best Jay-Z lyrics are also the most effective. Contained in a bonus track on 1998’s “Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life,” these lyrics offer a creative reference point on Jay-Z’s statement.
- “Sittin' courtside, Knicks & Nets give me high five” from “Empire State Of Mind” As a longtime fixture within New York City, Jay-Z often references the Big Apple in his best lyrics. This line, from 2009’s “The Blueprint 3,” is a musical ode to the city. Jay-Z alludes to professional basketball teams in these lyrics, showing his dedication to the region.
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