Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #8 Jay-Z


The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until we unveil our #1 artist of the decade!

Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.

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#8 Jay-Z

Nobody knows Jay Z better than Jay Z. So, why should I try explaining his legacy, skills, impact, and story—when he can? This piece is a montage of Jay Z’s lyrics throughout all his albums. With a little narration, I’ll let him explain why we should consider him one of Top 100 Artists of the last 10 years.

Jay Z, you’ve sold millions of hip hop records. From hustlin’ streets to MTV Unplugged, how would you describe your impact on hip hop?

(Jay Z)
I'm, young H.O., rap's Grateful Dead
I keep it realer than most, I know you’re feelin it
I can't see 'em comin down my eyes
So I gotta make the song cry

Your music is pretty well known—no?

Then run and tell them ducks you heard Hovi new shit
He and the boy Phar-real make beautiful music
He is to the East coast what Snoop is
To the West, what 'Face is to Houston

What about your lyrical content? Every rapper raps about the hood. Every rapper seems to talk about sex, drugs and booty - what makes you a top artist?

Radio's gotta play me though I cuss too much
Magazine said I'm shallow, I never learned to swim
Just read a magazine that fucked up my day
How you rate music that thugs with nothin relate to it?
I help them see they way through it - not you
Can't step in my pants, can't walk in my shoes
Bet everything you worth; you lose your tie and your shirt
Can't deny me, why would you want to
You need me, why don't you try me

I can’t critique because I haven’t walked a day in your shoes. What can critics point out to say, “this is one of the greatest hip hop artists of the decade?”

I stretched the game out, X'ed your name out
I’m a business man, not a business man
Demandin y'all respect, hand over a check
And while y'all at it, hand over the jet
We the reason they ain't hand over Def Jam so quick
They knew every year I was droppin new product
I was raisin the stock up, while buildin the Roc up
I'm a hustler homey, you a customer crony

So where does that leave you, Jay? In the greats of hip hop, where do you stand with your comeback?

Can't call this a comeback, I run rap, the fuck is y'all sayin?
Five million I done that, and I come back, to do it again (uh-huh)
Ex-sinner, Grammy award winner
I came, I saw and I conquered, from record sales to sold out concerts
Maybe you'll love me when I fade to black
If you can't respect that, your whole perspective is whack

You heard the man, if you can't respect that, you whole perspective is whack!

- David Johnson-Igra

Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.

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