What Jay-Z song had the deepest impact on you?
G-Christ: It has to be "You Must Love Me" from "In My Lifetime, Vol. 1." It was the first time I had heard a hip-hop artist go that deep into their personal life. It changed my whole outlook on music. I always wanted to hear music like that because I could always relate to the struggle.
Lowkey: "Big Pimpin'" had the biggest impact on me personally because I was so proud to see my favorite group UGK from Texas on MTV with him, but as far as Jay-Z goes, "Dead Presidents" is still my favorite song he ever did. The lyrics were so on point. He came out swinging. But what really caught me was that beat. When I got older we would freestyle to that beat over and over at the lunch table at school.
DJ 2DQ: If I had to choose among the many it would have to be a commercial track that many including myself can definitely relate to — "Dirt Off Your Shoulder." The track reminds me: "When I wake up to a new day — brush your shoulders off. If you're getting hated on during the day — brush your shoulders off. When you go to bed after a long day — brush your shoulders off!" At the end of the track Jay-Z, like President Obama, tells us, do your thing, regardless of whatever anybody says. Believe in yourself!
Da'Shade Moonbeam:The two songs that made me start paying attention to Jay-Z were on "The Blueprint 2." The tracks were "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" and "Takeover." After hearing those tracks, I was sold on his ability and overall range.
Zeale:The Jay-Z song that sustains the highest impact on me is "Moment of Clarity" (on) "The Black Album." The song addresses hurdles Jigga encountered on his climb to success and the controversy between Tupac and him, as well as painting a path for new and existing artists to navigate the treacherous waters of the hip-hop game.
Bavu Blakes: "So Ghetto" produced by DJ Premier. I liked the swing of it, and played it enough times in a row to write a song called "(bah-VOO)" to it back in early 2000.
Matt Sonzala: "Hard Knock Life" was the one that really did it for me. I mean talk about a crossover. Dude took a Broadway song and flipped it into one of the most jammin' songs in hip-hop history. And he took the whole vibe of the story of "Annie" and flipped it into a hip-hop perspective and honestly gave a great picture of America.
DJ Mel: Wow. There are so many songs. It's hard to find just one that has impacted me, because of his vast body of work. If I had to pick one, it would be "Hard Knock Life."
At the time this song dropped, most of his tracks were uptempo. This particular song was slower and the juxtaposition of Jay-Z's rags to riches story to 45 King's lighthearted production really appealed to me. It was on repeat in my car for the longest...
When it comes to the greatest rapper of all time conversation, where does Jay-Z rank?
G-Christ: Jay has to be Top 5 in my book. Not quite sure of the number yet, but he has proved that he should be mentioned in "number one" discussions because he's done it getting respect from the underground and mainstream all the while staying himself. Not many artists do that.
Lowkey: Jay-Z played the game better than anybody else. He's the biggest name in hip-hop right now, you can't deny that. As far as lists go though, I can probably think of 10 rappers who I'd rather listen to on any given day than Jay, so I can't say he's the No. 1 greatest of all time on my list, but he's been consistently good (not always great) since the '90s and always had that next hit to keep his buzz going. ... As a rapper I respect that consistency. ...
DJ 2DQ:Definitely Top 10. Being in radio for almost 10 years, this is always a touchy subject. People have told me theirs, here's my Top 10 (in descending order): Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Rakim, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Jay-Z, T.I., Outkast, and Ice Cube.
Da'Shade Moonbeam:I joust back and forth with this, for he is the most versatile mainstream hip-hop artist out right now. Every MC boasts about being the greatest, well I don't, but most do. I think that with all of his collective accomplishments you cannot deny that he is one of the most (if not the most) successful solo hip-hop artists to ever do it. So ranking, he's in his own lane, so in that vein he is the greatest!
Zeale: When it comes to the discussion of greatest rappers of all time, Jay-Z earns his keep in the Top 5. He is hands down the most consistent, visible, and business savvy artist/entrepreneur in the game. If you address value in terms of rich and wealthy, Lil Wayne is rich, but Jay is wealthy. He is an unmovable object that has earned the notch he cut out to establish himself as an unshakable pillar. His ability to touch all genres of music enthusiast is rare. It easy to be hated by few, but to be loved by all is almost supernatural.
Blakes: He ranks in the hall of fame, probably Top 10 greatest rappers of all time.
Sonzala: Jay-Z is definitely way up there, but for me it's hard to say anyone in art is the best this or that. I will say this for sure though: He has been able to consistently pull off more jammin' albums than anyone in the history of hip-hop. Nothing he has done has been weak, when he drops he comes with something current and jammin' and for the most part meaningful.
He's a serious touch of class in a culture filled with (expletives) as well. Dude is a real man, cares about his lyrics, an incredible performer and a strong businessman. He is one of the most complete artists in hip-hop history but honestly I think there are some better writers.
DJ Mel: Personally, he's in the top 5 for sure. He's right under Rakim and Notorious BIG.
Is Jay-Z's return from retirement more of a Michael Jordan or a Brett Favre kind of a situation?
G-Christ: Definitely a Michael Jordan because he won three championships after retirement. Farve hasn't won jack, lol! Jay-Z has had No. 1 albums since retiring.
Lowkey: Brett Favre because we all knew he was never retiring. I really believed Jordan was going to be gone. Actually I think he should've stayed gone, but that's a conversation for another article.
DJ 2DQ: I would say Brett Favre but without getting booed. All these characters have been in the game for a minute and have paid their dues. They've all worked hard and proven to themselves and all of us they got what it takes. Plus I don't want to see Jay-Z holding underwear, like Mike.
Da'Shade Moonbeam: I really don't follow sports, so I can't make an accurate comparison. I think that in his absence there was a void that needed to be filled, and many artists in the game stepped up to fill it. I'm glad he's back. His latest album brings with it a certain maturity that I think hip-hop needs right now. He is pushing his art form and continues to stay relevant in a divided market.
Zeale:Jay-Z's return to the game isn't like Jordan or Favre. While athletes gain knowledge and experience as they season themselves, they lose physical abilities that make them the remarkable players they are. Jay-Z has kept his mind sharp, and though he had to shake a few cobwebs off on recent albums, "Blueprint 3" has resurrected Jay as one of the most aggressive hip-hop visionaries to ever cradle an SM58 (microphone).
Blakes: Definitely Brett Favre.
Sonzala: I don't know, whatever one went out and came back in with more hype. Jay-Z is a businessman; he knows how to get attention.
DJ Mel: More like Favre, but Brett is really killing now.]]