Before Jay-Z slung apps and signed NBA All-Stars, he was simply Brooklyn’s finest. Now, he’s back with his twelfth studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, which has us getting all nostalgic for his non-entrepreneur, hip-hop activities, specifically his other 11 albums. And similar to the second half of The Throne a few weeks back, it wasn’t an easy task putting together a list of Top 20 songs — far more difficult, in fact.
There’s just so much style, substance, and context at hand. Whether it’s his diamond-encrusted Rolodex of collaborations or his blank check towards royalties, there’s almost a whole library’s worth of material to pine over. That we did, though to keep us level-headed, we paired each of our favorite tracks with comparable smart phone apps. You know, in honor of Jigga’s whole Samsung deal?
Don’t ask, just listen and (possibly) download.
20. “Can I Get A…”
Whether the pairing of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker was annoying or like Martin and Lewis with karate, this song helped launch Jay-Z’s career (along with “Hard Knock Life”). And it’s no wonder that this is one of Hov’s most commercially successful singles (peaking at a respectable #19): it’s got some of his most memorable wordplay (“If I couldn’t flow futuristic would ya/ Put your two lips on my wood and kiss it – could ya”), and screaming its chorus whilst driving or at a party remains a musical highlight for this writer to this day. But its most impressive feat of all? Somehow giving us a Ja Rule verse that wasn’t totally awful. Can I get a what what?! -Chris Coplan
App to Download: Andy (Siri alternative) — or, Andy, Jay-Z Edition: It’ll help you put events in calendars and find restaurants, but will scream “Fuck you!” if you ask, “Can I get a?”