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DJ YRS Jerzy’s Wednesday Throwback: Jay-Z Edition

By DJ YRS Jerzy
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

Once again, things have switched up from the Wednesday Throwback. Yesterday, Jay-Z dropped his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. He stopped everything in the middle of game six of 2013 NBA Finals and made plans for his album and the whole game stopped to follow his every move.

Those who have not heard Magna Carta Holy Grail definitely should and it brings back the memories of all Jay-Z has done. Most of the current generation of hip hop had no choice but to listen to Jay-Z, dude’s been running the game since 1996. No other rapper in history has managed to release platinum, classic, albums every year seven years straight.

Jay-Z is like no other, he took three years off for retirement and he came back and was still winning. When Jay-Z wasn’t dropping albums, he was out boosting other people’s music, appearing on their records. Not only did Jay-Z do this with guys like Memphis Bleek and Kanye West, he also assisted many artists outside of his crew.

Today, instead of one song on the Wednesday Throwback, it’s going to be a full dedication to Jay-Z and his progression over the years, which has been fun to watch. Boasting such a storied discography with songs with all of the biggest stars and countless hit singles, including “Hard Knock Life,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Change Clothes,” and “Show Me What You Got” that range from Reasonable Doubt up until The Blueprint 3, there is a lot of ground to cover. Congratulations to Jay-Z for his success.

Watch Jay-Z’s videos over the years below:

Watch “Show & Prove” by Big Daddy Kane ft. Big Scoob, Sauce Money, Shyheim, Jay-Z, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard below:

This is a legendary cypher from Big Daddy Kane and this helped launch Jay-Z’s career. One of the ultimate boom bap records, “Show & Prove” is the only time hip hop fans will ever get Big Scoob, Sauce Money, Shyheim, Jay-Z, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Props to Big Daddy Kane for making this happen.

Watch “I Can’t Get With That” by Jay-Z below:

The hip hop world will probably never see Jay-Z boast this flow again. People like to argue that Jay-Z’s solo career began with Reasonable Doubt, but it started before that with “I Can’t Get With That” and “In My Lifetime.” This is circa 1994.

Watch “In My Lifetime” by Jay-Z below:

Before he landed the deal with Priority Records for Roc-A-Fella Records and Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z had a single deal with Payday Records. In addition to “I Can’t Get With That,” Jay-Z dropped his notable street single, “In My Lifetime,” which is what he was known for after its 1995 release. This single title would later serve as the title for Jay-Z’s sophomore album, which spawned two sequels.

Watch “Ain’t No Nigga” by Jay-Z below:

This song was used for both the Hip Hop Classic of the Month and the Foxy Brown tribute. But, this song defined early Jay-Z. “Ain’t No Nigga” made The Nutty Professor soundtrack and set the stage for Jay-Z’s legendary career. Peep the cameos from Irv Gotti, Jaz-O, Damon Dash, and The Notorious B.I.G. Released in 1996, this was the first single off Reasonable Doubt.

Watch “Can’t Knock The Hustle” by Jay-Z ft. Mary J. Blige below: 

More cameos from Irv Gotti, ironically none from Mary J. Blige. But, this song is the ultimate hustler’s anthem. When a person is trying to do something bold and innovative, people hate, but they can’t knock the hustle. An all-time classic record right here, released in the late summer of 1996.

Watch “Feelin’ It” by Jay-Z ft. Mecca below:

Jay-Z wrapped Reasonable Doubt in the spring of 1997 with “Feelin’ It” featuring Mecca. More cameos from Damon Dash and this video continued the Mafioso persona from Jay-Z.

Watch “I’ll Be” by Foxy Brown ft. Jay-Z below:  A lot of memorable collabs between Jay-Z and Foxy Brown came in 1996-1997. This was the first single off her notable 1996 debut, Ill Na Na.

Watch “Who U Wit II” by Jay-Z below: In a matter of months, Jay-Z left Priority Records and established a partnership with Def Jam for Roc-A-Fella Records. The first offering from this deal was In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. This album was launched with “Who U Wit,” which doubled as a song off the Sprung soundtrack. Check the Foxy Brown cameo.

Watch “Sunshine” by Jay-Z ft. Babyface and Foxy Brown below: Even though Jay-Z says this song stopped his Vol. 1 from being classic, what screams 90s hip hop more? This is why hip hop never saw Jay-Z fully go into the Shiny Suit era of hip hop. Of course, this is “Sunshine” with Babyface and Foxy Brown.

Watch “The City is Mine” by Jay-Z ft. Blackstreet below: A lot of people point to this song as what started the beef with Nas. Jay-Z might not regard Vol. 1 as a classic, but shit I do, just because of this song. After the death of B.I.G., Jay-Z let the world know that the city is mine.

Watch the “Streets is Watching” movie by Jay-Z below: By 1998, Jay-Z had everything he could ever want, two albums, and millions of dollars. For his third album, he wanted to do something different and drop a movie with it. Def Jam didn’t want to back this project, so Jay-Z and Damon Dash went out of pocket with Roc-A-Fella films with Streets is Watching being taken from a song off Vol. 1 to being a full-length film displaying the whole roster of the Roc. Videos are included for “Where I’m From,” “Streets is Watching,” “Friend or Foe ’98,” “Imaginary Player,” “It’s Alright” with Memphis Bleek, and videos from the other Roc-A-Fella members with Jay-Z making cameos in all of them.

Watch “Can I Get A…” by Jay-Z ft. Amil and Ja Rule below: In spite of already having two albums under his belt and one platinum, Jay-Z still did not have commercial appeal. All of this changed with his quintuple platinum album, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life album. Jay-Z’s first major single was “Can I Get A…” featuring Amil and a fresh-faced Ja Rule. This song began the legendary mainstream Jay-Z run. This joint is also on the Rush Hour soundtrack with Chris Tucker.

Watch “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” by Jay-Z below: Doors were opened with “Can I Get A…,” Jay-Z ran through them with the title track of his third album, officially taking the game over. In the fall of 1998, Jay-Z began to own the game, this is still an all-time hip hop classic.

Watch “Money Ain’t a Thang” by Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri below: This song was included as a hidden track on Vol. 2 and was the first single off Jermaine Dupri’s album of 1998. Cameos from Kenya Moore and others, this single helped break Jay-Z in the South and continued his run, as he was a budding star.

Watch “4 Alarm Blaze” by M.O.P. ft. Jay-Z below: The legendary M.O.P. also turned to Jay-Z for a collaboration in 1998 with “4 Alarm Blaze.”

Watch “Lobster & Scrimp” by Timbaland ft. Jay-Z below: Jay-Z became a highly-requested guest and Timbaland turned to him for his 1998 single, “Lobster & Scrimp.” This song became another hit in Jay-Z’s string and established him as an undeniable hitmaker.

Watch “Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey ft. Jay-Z below:
By 1999, Jay-Z established himself as a go-to guy for guest verses. People will always wonder what could have been when it comes to Mariah Carey and Jay-Z collaborations. He and DJ Clue lent their vocals to her “Heartbreaker” single off her Rainbow single.

Watch “What You Think of That” by Memphis Bleek ft. Jay-Z below: Before Jay-Z was brought into the mix, the feud was Memphis Bleek and Nas. One of his earliest singles took shots at Nas, “What You Think of That,” off his 1999 debut, Coming of Age. Jay-Z made an appearance on the track.

Watch “Money, Cash, Hoes” by Jay-Z ft. DMX, Memphis Bleek, and Beanie Sigel below: After making his guest appearances, Jay-Z decided to revisit Hard Knock Life, remixing “Money, Cash, Hoes,” with DMX. Adding his own artists to the song, Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel, Jay-Z scored even more sales on his album.

Watch “Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originators 99)” by Jay-Z ft. Jaz-O below: This is one of the last times Jay-Z and Jaz-O collaborated before their falling out. This song is a remix of his “Originators” song, but Jay-Z kept for his album and added Amil to the hook. This single was released almost a year after the album came out.

Watch “Girl’s Best Friend” by Jay-Z below: In the midst of his Hard Knock Life promotion, Jay-Z began promoting Vol. 3… Life and Times of Shawn Carter. The first single came late in 1999, “Girl’s Best Friend.”

Watch “Do it Again (Put Ya Hands Up)” by Jay-Z ft. Beanie Sigel below: With “Do It Again,” Jay-Z really got things in gear for Life and Times of Shawn Carter. This song was the proper introduction for his new album and Beanie Sigel and this continued the strong run Jay-Z was on. It was this song that propelled this album to triple platinum status.

Watch “Anything” by Jay-Z below: Looking back on songs like this is probably the saddest part of the beef Beanie Sigel had with Jay-Z. He included a hidden track on Beans’ debut, The Truth, called “Anything,” which continued his samples. This song was dedicated to his nieces and nephews and now would be dedicated to Blue Ivy.

Watch “Big Pimpin'” by Jay-Z ft. UGK below: Before this single, Jay-Z had trouble finding the right single to push for Vol. 3. The only question ended up being why Jay-Z waited so long to drop this song. Released in time for spring break 2000, Jay-Z and UGK crafted the classic that made them all legends. R.I.P. to Pimp C, this song still goes in!

Watch “Hey Papi” by Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, and Amil below: From 1998-2000, Jay-Z rocked Timbaland beats. He included Memphis Bleek and Amil for another, “Hey Papi,” included on The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps soundtrack.

Watch “Best of Me (remix)” by DJ Clue ft. Mya and Jay-Z below: This is why everybody thought Jay-Z and Mya were together back in the day, they definitely played the part. Mya let DJ Clue remix “Best of Me” for the Hard Knock Life tour soundtrack and this was the final result.

Watch “Is That Your Chick” by Memphis Bleek ft. Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, and Twista below:

It was this song that officially launched the Jay-Z/Nas beef. Originally included as a hidden track on Vol. 3, Jay-Z gave the Missy Elliott-assisted song to Memphis Bleek for his sophomore album. Twista also was included as Jay-Z rapped about having Nas’ baby moms.

Watch “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” by Jay-Z ft. Pharrell below:

Originally, The Dynasty was a compilation album, but Jay-Z packaged it as his fifth studio album. This was the first of many collaborations with Pharrell and a classic that helped this album reach double platinum status.

Watch “Change The Game” by Jay-Z ft. Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel below:

This one still goes in, Jay-Z dropped “Change The Game” with Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel early in 2001.

Watch “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” by Jay-Z ft. R. Kelly below:

Jay-Z parodied his own legal issues with “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” For this song, Jay-Z teamed up with his R&B counterpart, R. Kelly. The video featured cameos from Angie Martinez on Hot 97, AJ and Free formerly of “106 & Park,” and many more. This song really went hard and his chemistry with R. Kelly is off the charts.

Watch “Fiesta (remix)” by R. Kelly ft. Jay-Z and Boo & Gotti below:Damn, it’s really too bad it didn’t work out with Jay-Z and R. Kelly. This joint was one of the hardest to come out in 2001, fuck that the whole first decade of 2000s. R. Kelly also featured Boo & Gotti on the official “Fiesta” remix.

Watch “Do My” by Memphis Bleek ft. Jay-Z below:

Memphis Bleek scored a hit in the summer of 2001 alongside Jay-Z with “Do My.”

Watch “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” by Jay-Z below:After he featured Michael Jackson at Hot 97 Summer Jam 2001 and dissed Nas officially, Jay-Z sampled MJ. With Kanye West producing the track, Jay-Z scored one of the biggest hits of his career with “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).” Crazy cameos in this music video. Great way to launch the triple platinum classic, The Blueprint.

Watch “Girls Girls Girls” by Jay-Z below:Of course, this song is still a classic. This is the perfect ode to Jay-Z’s past as a playboy, but he retired that and it’s much-respected.

Watch “Song Cry” by Jay-Z below:Jay-Z saved this one for the spring of 2002 and it recounts a lost love, this is another classic off The Blueprint, one of hip hop’s best-ever albums.

Watch “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” by Jay-Z and Beyonce below:With this single, Jay-Z began turning his back on the playboy image. On The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse, Jay-Z showed off more of his grown man style. He confirmed the rumors of him dating Beyonce with “’03 Bonnie & Clyde.”

Watch “Excuse Me Miss” by Jay-Z ft. Pharrell below:

This quadruple album also featured the long-awaited reunion between Jay-Z and Pharrell. Jay-Z waited until early 2003 to liberate “Excuse Me Miss,” which went on to become another massive hit for him and the perfect launch for the next sngle with Pharrell.

Watch “Frontin'” by Pharrell ft. Jay-Z below:From 2000-2006, Pharrell put together his own legendary run. Him and Jay-Z are musical geniuses and they should’ve done a joint album. “Frontin'” came after “Excuse Me Miss” and solidified Jay-Z’s run during the summer of 2003.

Watch “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce and Jay-Z below:

Ever since this video, it’s been impossible not to look at Jay-Z. He should’ve also dropped a joint album with her. “Crazy in Love” spawned the dance that Mo’Nique imitated and this song also dominated the summer of 2003, keeping Jay-Z going throughout the year.

Watch “Change Clothes” by Jay-Z ft. Pharrell below:

Jay-Z announced his retirement with The Black Album, his triple platinum “final” offering. To help him close things out was Pharrell, who provided the hook on “Change Clothes.”

Watch “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” by Jay-Z below:

People just now stopped using this phrase, shows how much clout Jay-Z has. “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” came early in 2004 and was another big hit for him.

Watch “99 Problems” by Jay-Z below:

An “f-you” to the game, what better way to end a career? Jay-Z capped eight strong years with “99 Problems,” sounding off on everything wrong with the industry and haters in general, “99 Problems” but a bitch ain’t one.

Watch “Deja Vu” by Beyonce ft. Jay-Z below:

Leave it to wifey to bring Jay-Z back, two years after his “retirement.” His first music video since “99 Problems in 2004,” Jay-Z appeared on Beyonce’s “Deja Vu,” a quasi sequel to “Crazy in Love.”

Watch “Show Me What You Got” by Jay-Z below:

What better way to say “I’m back?” Jay-Z raced with Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick in the “Show Me What You Got” video. This was the first single off Kingdom Come.

Watch “Lost One” by Jay-Z ft. Chrisette Michele below:

This is one of the deepest songs Jay-Z ever did. “Lost One” also introduced Chrisette Michele.

Watch “Umbrella” by Rihanna ft. Jay-Z below:

One of the most-memorable singles of 2007 was Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” She abandoned her good girl image with her Good Girl Gone Bad album and Jay-Z appears on “Umbrella.”

Watch “Blue Magic” by Jay-Z ft. Pharrell below:

Admitting Kingdom Come could’ve been better, Jay-Z corrected it with American Gangster, inspired by the film. He reunited with Pharrell and continued their legendary run on “Blue Magic.”

Watch “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)” by Jay-Z below:

Modern-day Mafioso, Jay-Z celebrated his victories in the criminal circuit. “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)…” was the product of this celebration. Video cameos came from Irv Gotti, Nas, Diddy, Mariah Carey, and many more, it was definitely a celebration bitches.

Watch “I Know” by Jay-Z ft. Pharrell below:

This is the only video Jay-Z never appeared in. Instead, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet’s daughter starred in the Pharrell-assisted “I Know” song, which is about addiction.

Watch “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” by Jay-Z below:Taking a year and a half off, Jay-Z returned with The Blueprint 3. During his absence, the auto-tune era took the game over and Jay-Z put an effective end to it with “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune).”

Watch “Run This Town” by Jay-Z ft. Kanye West and Rihanna below:Jay-Z united with his Roc Nation family for “Run This Town,” which became his most-successful single ever. The second single off The Blueprint 3.

Watch “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys below:Eventually, Jay-Z topped all of his other singles with “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys. This song remains New York City’s anthem.

Watch “On to the Next One” by Jay-Z ft. Swizz Beatz below:Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz reunited for this album and “On to the Next One” was the final single off Blueprint 3.

Watch “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West below:

Just like they did this year, two years ago Jay-Z and Kanye West shut the game down with Watch the Throne. “Otis” was the first offering off that album, sampling Otis Redding and it remains a classic.

Watch “No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z and Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean below:

This is another Watch the Throne banger.

See the Jay-Z album covers below:

Reasonable DoubtIn My Lifetime, Vol. 1Vol. 2... Hard Knock LifeVol. 3... Life and TimesThe DynastyThe BlueprintThe Blueprint 2The Black AlbumKingdom ComeAmerican GangsterThe Blueprint 3Watch the Throne

Follow DJ YRS Jerzy on Twitter @IAmDJYRSJerzy.

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