Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course).
In honor of his recent nuptials, this week we look at Jay-Z. Just so you know, I decided to focus on tracks that feature Jay-Z as the clear center of attention. I could make a completely different list of his guest appearances. Stay tuned on that... I also avoided his big hits, for the most part. I don't think they're truly representative of his abilities or sensibilities. Finally, instead of offering my usual pithy commentary, I'm going to let the man speak for himself.
1. "Can't Knock The Hustle" (from Reasonable Doubt, 1996)
"I got extensive hos with expensive clothes and I sip fine wines and spit vintage flows."
2. "Streets Is Watching" (from In My Lifetime, Vol.1, 1997)
"If I shoot you I'm brainless / but if you shoot me, you're famous."
3. "Hard Knock Life" (from Hard Knock Life, Vol.2, 1998)
"I gave you prophecy on my first joint, and y'all lamed out / Didn't really appreciate it 'til the second one came out / So I stretched the game out, X'ed your name out / Put Jigga on top, and drop albums non-stop."
4. "Izzo (H.O.V.A)" (from Blueprint, 2001)
"Cops want to knock me / D.A. wanna box me in / Still I beat them charges like Rocky / Not guilty / He who does not feel me does not exist / So, poof, vamoose son of a bitch."
5. "Ain't No Love (Heart Of The City)" (from Blueprint, 2001)
"Can I live? I told you in '96 / that I came to take this shit and I did, handle my biz / I scramble like Randall with his / cut in hand but the only thing runnin' is numbers fam' / Jigga held you down six summers; damn, where's the love?"
6. "Song Cry" (from Unplugged, 2001)
"We used to use umbrellas to face the bad weather / So now we travel first class to change the forecast."
7. "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" (from Blueprint 2, 2002)
"Cause mami's a rider, and I'm a roller /Put us together, how they gonna stop both us? / Whatever she lacks, I'm right over her shoulder / When I'm off track mami is keepin' me focused / So let's lock this down like it's supposed to be /The '03 Bonnie and Clyde, Hov' and B, holla!"
8. Punjabi MC - "Beware Of The Boys" (Jay-Z Remix) (from Beware, 2003)
"Checkin' in daily under aliases / We rebellious, we back home, screamin' leave Iraq alone / But all my soldiers in the field, I will wish you safe return / But only love kills war when will they learn?"
9. "99 Problems" (from The Black Album, 2003)
"So I, pull over to the side of the road / I heard, 'Son do you know why I'm stoppin' you for?' / Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hats real low? / Do I look like a mind reader sir, I don't know."
10. "Change Clothes" (from The Grey Album, 2004)
"Best believe I sweat out weaves, give afropuffs like R-A-G-E"
11. "Dear Summer" (from Memphis Bleek's 534, 2005)
"I got a brand new bitch, corporate America / She showing me a lot of action right now."
12. "Lost One" (from Kingdom Come, 2006)
"And me? My timing is on me it serves / So I have to allow she, HER, time to serve / The time’s now for her, in time she’ll mature / And maybe we can be we again, like we were."