The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
Front all you want; you love this song. Your Grandmother loves this song, which is disturbing but still kind of cool. Everyone loves this song.
The Blueprint 3
With this cut, and help from Swizz Beats’ wife, Iceberg Slim became the new Sinatra.
Two Brooklynites (Biggie and Jay attended the same high school) go head-to-head over a hardcore track with both dropping classic lines including “N**** please / like short sleeves I bear arms,” (Jay) and Big’s scene-stealing wife/nemesis diss: “If Faye have twins she’ll probably have two Pacs... Get it? Tu... Pacs?” Brooklyn, stand up!
The Black Album
Jay-Z meets Rick Rubin. Beasties-level Rick Rubin, who people didn’t know still existed under all that beard. You busted some serious moves to this song, and you still do.
The lyrically remixed album version of DP, Jay’s very first promotional single, was featured on his debut, Reasonable Doubt, and is great on its own with a soul-on-steel melody sampled from jazz musician Lonnie Liston Smith; its braggadocious drug dealer quotables (“Patna, I’m still spending money from ‘88”), recall NYC’s infamous crack explosion, and Jay’s delivery is as slick as a surfboard riding a Champagne wave. Still, the true gem is the original version, which features lyrics that’ve since become part of the modern (bum) rapper’s study guide, including “Everything was all good just a week ago.” Word to Bobby Shmurda’s entire rap career.