Jay Z's come a long way from the Marcy projects, to being a puppet on a string of Jaz-O's tennis shoe, to one of the most powerful moguls in and beyond the music business. But what got him to his current position, even more than his genius business acumen, are his incomparable bars.
In honor of his 44th birthday, let's take a look at the 44 best bars of Jay Z's career:
1) "Thinking back when we first learned to use rubbers / He never learned so in turn I'm kidnapping his baby's mother" - Jay Z "D'evils"
Wear condoms, or else your seed might be used against you by the all-powerful, formerly evil Reasonable Doubt-era Jay Z.
2) "As a youngin, dumb and, gun in the waist / Sold crack to those who couldn't take the pain and had to numb it with base" - Jay Z "It's Like That"
Not only did Hov once prey on babies mothers, he also took advantage of addicts.
3) "Used to hustle with your pops, go ask your parents / It's apparent ya'll staring at a legend" - Jay Z "Child Abuse"
A diss to Lil Wayne for thinking he's in Jay's class.
4) “Hov’s a livin’ legend and I’ll tell you why/ Everybody wanna be Hov and Hov’s still alive" - Jay Z "Never Let Me Down"
The mystical power of Hov transcends life and death.
5) "Motherf*ckers say that I'm foolish I only talk about jewels / Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?" - Jay Z "Renegade"
If you think Hov just talks about material things, you're only partially right.
6) "Hold up, lemme move my bowels / I'll sh*t on y'all n*ggas, OG tell these boys (Y'all ain't got sh*t on my n*gga)" - Jay Z "Success"
Poop on the enemy every chance you get.
7) "N*ggas said Hova was over, such dummies / Even If I fell I'll land on a bunch of money" - Jay Z "Success"
There is no fate or destiny for Jay Z, and whatever is thrown his way can't contain his beastly profit margins.
8) "I got dreams, of holding a nine milla, to Bob's killer / Asking him why as my eyes fill up" - Jay Z "Lucifer"
Who is the mysterious Bob that Jay Z mourns so tenderly? Kareem Biggs Burke's brother, nicknamed Bobalob because of his ability to receive alley oops.
9) "Mike Jordan of rap, outside Jay working / Now watch how quickly I drop 50" - Jay Z "Hova Song"
Not only does Hov have the ability to score on the court, he can also knock 50 Cent out with ease.
10) "Remember Newton? / Mutual friend, well me and him feuding" - Jay Z "Regrets"
Jay will literally fight against the laws of physics and win.
11) "She call me professor, say daddy come and test her / So she can fail on purpose and repeat the semester" - Jay Z "Girls, Girls, Girls"
Perhaps a premonition of his eventual signing of Rihanna, and the wisdom he would impart to her, despite her unwillingness to listen.
12) "Flash Gordon when recording, spark the light in the dark / Peter Park, Spider-Man, all I do is climb the charts " - Jay Z "Kingdom Come"
Jay makes numerous comic book references on the track, as his return to rap is reminiscent of many costumed vigilantes donning their capes once more.
13) "I run the streets, the streets don't run we" - Jay Z "Kingdom Come"
Miley Cyrus why you biting?
14) "Primetime, beat by Dion / Our third eon, that's what the f*ck we on" - Jay Z "Primetime"
This entendre references the beat's producer, Dion Wilson a.k.a. No I.D. as well as the song's title, which is Deion Sanders' nickname.
15) "I don't follow any guidelines cause too many n*ggas ride mine / So I change styles every two rhymes" - Jay Z "22 Two's"
Hop off Hov immediately.
16) "I'll get my own forty acres give me four nights / Four o's a Glock forty for the jackers and I'm Spike" - Jay Z "Can I Kick It"
A reference to both Spike Lee and the age-old broken promise of 40 acres and a mule at the end of slavery.
17) "Standing back from situations gives you the perfect view / You see the snakes in the grass and you wait on their ass" - Jay Z "Anything"
Jay Z is for the children, and you too. Heed this advice and plot your moves like Sun Tzu.
18) "When I be going / I be running the track like Jesse Owens" - Jay Z "7 Minute Freestyle"
One of the all-time greats, Jesse Owens gets the honor he deserves, while joggers just work your nerves.
19) "See I was born in sewage, born to make bomb music / Flow tight like I was born Jewish" - Jay Z "This Can't Be Life"
Even casual antisemitism sounds cool coming from Hov.
20) "I'm still stretching on the block / Like 'Damn, I'mma be a failure' / Surrounded by thugs, drugs, and drug paraphernalia" - Jay Z "This Can't Be Life"
Jay Z was a nihilist in his youth.
21) "Brooklyn get paper / Tote big thangs / We chase n*ggas around they own ball games" - Jay Z "Brooklyn High"
This track is a diss to Jim Jones who, along with the rest of The Diplomats, were famously jumped at a basketball game in Harlem by The Notorious B.I.G.'s Junior Mafia clique.
22) "The Joneses can’t keep up / Maybe my n*gga Nas / But I got Stronger after Ether (wow!)" - Jay Z "Brooklyn High"
Showing respect to Nas while bashing Jim Jones? That's dexterity.
23) "You learn the worth of water without work, you thirst til you die, yup! / And n*ggas get tied up for product / And little brothers' ring fingers get cut up" - Jay Z "December 4th"
The brutality of the world is never lost on Jay for an instant. Except when he's lounging in Ibiza or a space shuttle.
24) "I pray I'm forgiven / For every bad decision I made / Every sister I played / Cause I'm still paranoid to this day / And it's nobody's fault I made the decisions I made" - Jay Z "December 4th"
One of the keys to Hov's empire is self awareness and humility. Just because you got away from being a bad guy doesn't mean it doesn't still haunt you.
25) "I damn near beat Jordan in around-the-world" - Jay Z "N*gga Please"
There's no better brags than the ones about things you almost did.
26) "Fourth album still Jay still spittin that real sh*t / Volume 3 still sold more records than Will Smith" - Jay Z "Change The Game"
Shots fired at the defunct music career of the young prince.
27) "Last time the miscarriage was so tragic / We was afraid you'd disappear, but nah, baby, you magic (voilà)" - Jay Z "Glory"
Jay isn't afraid to let his most intimate, private details out, including Beyoncé's struggles to remain pregnant.
28) "You're a child of destiny / You're the child of my destiny / You're my child with the child from Destiny's Child / That's a hell of a recipe" - Jay Z "Glory"
More entendres than you can count.
29) "Hold up, this sh*t need a verse from Jeezy / I might send this to the mixtape Weezy" - Jay Z "D.O.A."
Everyone wants the mixtape Lil Wayne, no one wants the hashtag Trukfit rapper that assaults our ears daily.
30) "And here I find you in this Motel 6 with all these guns / And all your goons, lined up in adjoining rooms / Like some wild cowboys coming to get me at high noon" - Jay Z "Friend Or Foe '98"
Vivid imagery, and limitless threat, long before:
31) "Or you Bill O'Reilly, you only riling me up / For three years, they had me peein' out of a cup" - Jay Z "Threat"
Pundits and P.O.'s can all get it.
32) "I'm young, black and rich so they wanna strip me naked, but / You never had me like Christina Aguiler-y / But catch me down the Westside, drivin like Halle Berry / Or the FDR, in the seat of my car" - Jay Z "Threat"
Jay Z exhibits recklessness that Halle Berry shows in one hit-and-run every single day.
33) "Penelope Ann Cruz couldn't snooze / With her 'Eyes Wide Shut,' before I asked to hit her gut" - Jay Z "Flip Flop Rock"
How do you degrade the most beautiful women with misogyny? Listen to Hov.
34) "You can blame my old earth, for the shit she instilled in me / Still with me, pain plus work / Sh*t she made me milk this game for all it's worth" - Jay Z "Guess Who's Back"
Environmental philosopher Jay.
35) "I never seen a cop when I was out there / They never came out there / And out there, I was slingin' crack to live / I'm only slingin' raps to your kids" - Jay Z "Hell Yeah"
The political subversiveness of the white man isn't lost on Jay. Not one bit.
36) "Now the police, got me in the middle of the street / Trying to beat me blue, black and orange / I'm like hold up, who you smacking on / I'm only trying to eat what you snacking on" - Jay Z "Hell Yeah"
Is Hov a criminal just for doing what businessmen do everyday, only in his own lane?
37) "Go against Jigga your ass is dense / I'm about a dollar, what the f*ck is 50 Cents?" - Jay Z "It's Hot"
It only took Jay two bars on one album to irrevocably ether 50 Cent.
38) "'He did it again!' Haters no like / But they gotta f*ck with it cause the flow's so tight / Gnarly dude! I puff Bob Marley dude / All day, like Rastafari's do" - Jay Z "Jigga That N*gga"
Hov likes to get high and get tubular, so please give him his space to do so.
39) "And I ain't never been to jail; I ain't never pay a n*gga / To do no dirt for me I was scared to do myself / I will never tell, even if it means sittin in a cell / I ain't never ran, never will" - Jay Z "Justify My Thug"
These street codes will rule Jay's life no matter what plateau he reaches in life.
40) "Death before dishonor and I tell you what else / I tighten my belt 'fore I beg for help" - Jay Z "Justify My Thug"
Easy to say when you're sitting on them M's, but Hov what if they repo'd your last Benz? What then?
41) "I bake the cake and two it up from one / Then I moved the weight like I'm Oprah's son" - Jay Z "La La La"
Multiply pies to Oprah size....legendary.
42) "This is to the memory of Danroy Henry / Too much enemy fire to catch a friendly / Strays from the same shade n*gga, we on the same team / Giving you respect, I expect the same thing" - Jay Z "Murder To Excellence"
For those who think Hov only raps about jewels, he tackles police murder and black-on-black crime in two lines.
43) "Blame Reagan for making me into a monster / Blame Oliver North and Iran-Contra / I ran contraband that they sponsored / Before this rhymin stuff we was in concert" - Jay Z "Blue Magic"
Jay knows his history, and that his drug-dealing past was just part of a larger machine that stretches to the White House.
44) "And ma don't give him nothin', unless he's treatin' you special / Soon he'll get desperate, and go down and bless you / And when he come up for air, with a mouth full of hair / Just grab your Coach bag and get the f*ck outta there, yeah"
Perfect dating advice caps off the lyrics of a happily married man.
Also, check out this hilarious Jay Z parody from Elite: