Top 3 Songs From Each JAY-Z Album

Welp!  I'm back on Tidal.  I know everyone keeps saying you don't HAVE to get Tidal to listen to their exclusives, but c'mon.  If I'm someone who is going to make my dog wait to go for a walk so I can listen to the new JAY-Z album during the walk as soon as its available.  I probably should just cave in to Tidal.

The good news, other than there is a new JAY-Z album out, is that I get to listen to all the JAY-Z albums on my phone again.  Needless to say this makes me want to list the top 3 songs on each album just like I did for Kanye.  So let's do just that!

Reasonable Doubt (1996)/AKA THE BEST JAY-Z ALBUM

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Can't Knock The Hustle" (ft. Mary J. Blige)
2) "Brooklyn's Finest" (ft. The Notorious B.I.G.)
3) "Dead Presidents II"
This was probably the hardest album to pick a top three on.  I love every song on this album except for "Bring it On"  I only recently gained an appreciation for it.  The production on worldplay on this album still finds way to surprise me after all this time.  "Can't Knock The Hustle" is the album in one song.  Amazing insight into "the life" with introspective double entendres and a soundbed that feels instantly classic.  "Brooklyn's Finest" is exactly what it says it is and everyone comes out a winner.  The artists and the fans!  "Dead Presidents is Jay on his own killing another instantly classic sounding beat.

In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997)/AKA The 6th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Where I'm From"
2) "A Million and One Questions/Rap No More"
3) "The City is Mine" (ft. Blackstreet)
This was actually the first album I wanted to buy from JAY-Z thanks to "The City is Mine."  For some reason didn't think his 11 year old should have this album.  I can't say I blame him, but he certainly made me late to the party.  At least he OK'd the purchase of The Simpsons album.  "Where I'm From" has such a hard beat.  I just love that song.  The Intro made the cut mostly for the Million Questios portion.  That song has some of the first lyrics by JAY-Z I ever memorized.

Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life (1998)/AKA The 5th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Money, Cash, Hoes" (ft. DMX)
2) "Can I Get A..." (ft. Amil & Ja Rule)
3) "Ride or Die"
This was the first JAY-Z I actually owned on cassette thanks to a friend's parents not knowing the lyrical content of Mr. Carter's albums.  I was a Ruff Ryders fan before I was a Jigga Warrior so I obviously love "Money, Cash, Hoes" for the Swizz beat and X on the Hook and with a killer verse.  I get that it sounds like someone sitting on a keyboard repeatedly, but I can't help but become 12 year old YG every time I hear the song again.  You didn't grow up with Rush Hour and not love "Can I Get A..."  As I mentioned to Pauline when I forced her to listen to this song during one of our road trips, "Ride or Die" is great because it's a Ma$e diss and has a Bad Boy producer on the intro saying he's rolling with Roc-A-Fella!  ILL!

Vol. 3... Life and Times of S.Carter (1999)/AKA The 8th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)"
2) "Big Pimpin" (ft. UGK)
3) "Snoopy Track" (ft. Juvenille)
If you care, this is the first JAY-Z album I bought with my own money since I was out with my grandmother and she didn't know my parent's stance on that Parental Advisory sticker in the corner.  I didn't get that Jay was dissing 50 on "it's Hot" even though it's obvious I just liked the Timbaland beat and how Hov spit over it.  It clearly aged well with time once I knew what was up.  Obviously "Big Pimpin" is in the top 3.  I kinda like Bun B's verse the best actually.  Even though I actually tried to memorize Jay's verse.  "Snoopy Track" may not be the obvious choice to round out the top 3 but I can't help how much I liked Juvenille at the time and the way I loved singing along to this hook.

The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000)/AKA The 12th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "This Can't Be Life" (ft. Beanie Sigel & Scarface)
2) "You, Me, Him & Her" (ft. Memphis Bleek/Beanie Sigel/Amil)
3) "1-900-HUSTLER" (ft. Beanie Sigel/Memphis Bleek/Freeway)
I bought this album just cause.  I think I appreciated being in High School and having new freedom in terms of what music I could openly listen to.  Nothing would please me more than a joint album between JAY-Z x Beanie Sigel x Scarface.  If every track even hist 50-75% of the dopeness of "This Can't Be Life" I'll be happy.  I used the beat of "You, Me, Him, and Her" once for a a song called "Utterly Ridiculous".  That was fun!  I really like the energy of the beat and overall song.  "1-900-Hustler" taught me what getting indicted is so thank you very much Beans!  It was also my introduction to Freeway who has got to be one of the most underrated rappers out there.

The Blueprint (2001)/AKA The 2nd Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Takeover"
2) "Renegade" (ft. Eminem)
3) "Hola' Hovito"
So my high school had 4 periods for a possible lunch time.  I got the first possible one which meant I had lunch at 10am and would always wait for the Future Shop to open and I'd browse the New Release section.  The Blueprint was the first time I went specifically for an album and something about the date September 11, 2001 stopped me from actually getting the album the day it came out.  That meant it had a lot to live up to when I finally got my hands on it a week later.  This was the album that made me go back and buy the albums I didn't already have on CD because "Takeover" made me realize Shawn Corey Carter is my favourite rapper.  To Nas' credit I always wished Eminem's verse came earlier on "Renegade" but that doesn't matter.  The song has two of the greatest on one track... we all win again!  "Hola' Hovito" is classic JAY-Z and Timbaland.  I don't care what you say, the song is all sorts of dope.

The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse (2002)/AKA The 11th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "U Don't Know (Remix)" (ft. M.O.P.)
2) "Poppin Tags" (ft. Twista/Killer Mike/Big Boi/Sleepy Brown)
3) "The Watcher 2" (ft. Dr. Dre/Rakim/Truth Hurts)
I liked "U Don't Know" on The Blueprint, I loved the remix on this album.  I was so happy M.O.P. and JAY-Z were not only on the same song again, but on the same label!  You can hate if you want, but "Poppin Tags" goes hard in my circle.  Some Kanye & Dungeon Family mixed with the ROC!  I really like when Jay, Big, and Mike get together plus Twista is always a welcome addition.  I'm mostly on board with "The Watcher 2" for the fact that I loved the beat on 2001 and Rakim finally got on a track with JAY-Z.

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The Best of Both Worlds (2002)/Technically a JAY-Z & R.Kelly Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "It Ain't Personal"
2) "Honey"
3) "Shake Ya Body" (ft. Lil' Kim)
I gotta collect them all... what can I say.  I don't think I got this album right away when it came out but I eventually got it because I can't knowingly leave a JAY-Z album unpurchased. I genuinely like the top 2 songs I mentioned because of R. Kelly's hooks and just put "Shake Ya Body" on the list because I had the unofficial version of this song without Lil' Kim and liked that she was added when the album came out.

The Black Album (2003)/AKA The 4th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Public Service Announcement"
2) "Threat"
3) "Lucifer"
Remember when this was going to be the last album we ever heard from JAY-Z?  That doesn't mean that he didn't come correct with his fake swan song.  I love "Public Service Announcement" I love when he opens shows with it.  I love reciting the first verse especially on stage with Sick,Wicked&Nasty.  It's just so close to being a perfect song.  "Threat" is great for the menace in Hov's voice as he delivers his lyrics.  Much like season 2 of Master of None, I was happy to be surprised by Cedric the Entertainer's appearance.  There is something that speaks to me about this song and feels greater than the sum of its parts.  Something special.  "Lucifer" has a great energy.  So much so that you forget what Jay's actually rapping about.  It sounds like a party starter till you hear what's being addressed on the track.  Gotta love this kind of Kanye beat.

Unfinished Business (2004)/Technically all the abandoned tracks from the first Jay-Z & R.Kelly album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Stop" (ft. Foxy Brown)
2) "Pretty Girls"
3) "Feelin You In Stereo"
Bruh... the fact that I can't easily find where these songs are being streamed, especially on Hov's own streaming platform, should let you know how little effort was put in or how little confidence there is in this project.  It's worth looking for "Stop" on a more stable platform than YouTube.  I genuinely love it. Like "Shake Ya Body" the version I had first didn't have Foxy so she was a great addition.  I don't care about the other two songs.

Kingdom Come (2006)/AKA The 10th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Oh My God"
2) "Do U Wanna Ride" (ft. John Legend)
3) "Lost One" (ft. Chrisette Michele)
I obviously was very excited to have another proper JAY-Z album when the rumblings of Kingdom Come started.  I remember I didn't even get the "free" version before it was available to legally purchase.  I took the 40 minute bus ride to Limeridge Mall and copped this album then had to wait till I got home to listen because I forgot my discman... or didn't have one anymore... who remembers.  I guess I'm trying to let you know I went to great lengths to enjoy this album.  The three songs I picked are the three songs I instantly loved and didn't need to let grow on me.  I'd say the album was a nice first step into getting back on the scene.  "Oh My God" was God M.C. stylings so no discussion there.  "Do U Wanna Ride" had an amazing John Legend hook and some introspection on Jay's part.  But "Lost One" that's the kicker!  If you were invested, for no good reason, like I was in JAY-Z and Beyoncé this song was it!  I regret caring more about the Beyoncé verse than his remorse over his dead nephew verse or the Dame Dash verse.  But as you can see there's a lot going on there! 

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American Gangster (2007)/AKA The 3rd Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Roc Boys (And The Winner Is...)"
2) "No Hook"
3) "Party Life"
There we go!  JAY-Z was officially back with this album.  I remember scratching my head when people complained he was just redoing Reasonable Doubt.  It was particularly perplexing since I felt the same people thought that's what they wanted when the decidedly different Kingdom Come came out.   "Roc Boys" is just the sound of joy.  The video is dope and I still use it as my wife's ringtone.  I liked when Jay pleaded with his mom to not try and stop him from accumulating wealth on "No Hook"  "But I gotta get you outta here momma or I'ma die... inside/and either way you lose me momma, so let loose of me"  That will always stick with me.  "Party Life" just has the perfect groove.  You either catch the vibe or you don't.

The Blueprint 3 (2009)/AKA The 7th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "Already Home" (ft. KiD CuDi)
2) "Thank You"
3) "Run This Town" (ft. Rihanna & Kanye West)
This is basically the album where JAY-Z addressed Beanie Sigel and ultimately stopped T-Pain from appearing on everyone's song.  "Already Home" has one of the illest Kanye beats I've heard with a great Cudi hook.  But it's clearly taking shots at Beans.  Can't we all get along?  "Thank You" is definitely taking shots at the Broad Street Bully.  I can't help but enjoy it though.  "Run This Town" is just a dope track.  I love the flow and Rihanna carries the hook well.  I think where this album falls apart is the fact that the songs I don't like on this album I REALLY DON'T like.  They're not just skippable they make me feel some kind of way.

Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013)/AKA The 9th Best JAY-Z Album

Top 3 Songs:
1) "F.U.T.W."
2) "Somewhereinamerica"
3) "F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit" (ft. Rick Ross)
The album people love to hate.  Not me!  I left work to get this album and be able to listen at my desk.  It's a different sound for JAY-Z to be sure.  It's certainly not his strongest work either.  But when you're discussing an artist with a discography like Hov, "not his strongest" isn't anywhere close to trash.  "F.U.T.W." has the right mix of old JAY-Z and new sounds for me.  I wish "Somewhereinamerica" had a longer run time and shorter name.  The horns on this track are A1!  It took me awhile but I got on board with Ross and thus I could sit back and relax with the groovy "U Know I Got It" record!

4:44 (2017)/Hasn't even been a full day

Top 3 Songs:
1) "The Story of O.J."
2) "Family Feud"
3) "Caught Their Eyes" (ft. Frank Ocean)
Yes the album has only been available for 14 hours at this point but I'm going to attempt to talk about my favourite songs so far.  "The Story of O.J." is just too real for me to not appreciate it. "I'm not black, I'm O.J. ... OK..."  Great delivery, Hov.  That Nina Simone sample and piano loop.  Eerie good.  You should also check out the video for it if you can.  "Family Feud" finally gives me a JAY-Z x Beyoncé collaboration on a JAY-Z album that I actually like.  They took me to church with this one and I love it.  "Caught Their Eyes" has a more invigorated energy than most of the album plus it has a super cool Frank Ocean hook so I'm all for it.  That's all I can say about the album so far.  I look forward to listening all weekend and hearing your reactions!