Gotta learn to live with regrets: Best of Jay Z

A playlist of Sean Carter tracks would have to encompass his appearances on other people’s money tacks, from Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” to Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” remix; it’s Thursday, though, so I’ll ride and die to the bar, thanks. Garbage he’s recorded, but assembling this list I realized I loved corny shit like his Eminem collaboration (on which he doesn’t even try to keep up — the sign of a pro) and “Heart of the City,” which made “Empire State of Mind” irrelevant. I included little tonothing from The Blueprint 3, Kingdom Come, and Magna Carta Holy Grail, albums on which he’s as detached from the beats and experiences as Bryan Ferry was on his in 1987 except for Ferry that was the point (“detached” is a euphemism for “distracted” perhaps). American Gangster made my top ten in 2007, a development for which I expect an interrogation on the Last Days. But if Jay can drop the hyphen…

It reminds me of the phenomenon whereby my students between eighteen and twenty-five know Jay Z as the guy behind The Black Album, who collaborated with Kanye on Watch the Thrones, and as Beyonce’s husband. Inescapable singles like “Big Pimpin'” aside, recordings before The Blueprint don’t exist to them. This playlist is my attempt at redress.

1. Can I Get A… (ft Amil & Ja Rule)
2. 99 Problems
3. Regrets
4. Big Pimpin’
5. Ride Or Die
6. Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)
7. Dirt Off Your Shoulder
8. Brooklyn’s Finest (ft. The Notorious B.I.G.)
9. Money Ain’t a Thang (ft. Jermaine Dupri)
10. Takeover
11. Dead Presidents II
12. Paper Chase
13. It’s Hot (Some Like It Hot)
14. Dope Man (ft Serena Altschul)
15. Change the Game (ft Memphis Bleek & Beanie Sigel
16. Parking Lot Pimpin’ (ft. Lil Mo, Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek)
17. Coming Of Age (ft Memphis Bleek)
18. Snoopy Track
19. Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
20. Renegade ft Eminem
21. Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)…
22. So Ghetto
23. Niggas in Paris
24. Smile (ft. Gloria Carter)
25. Poppin’ Tags (ft Twista, Killer Mike and Big Boi)
26. Girls, Girls, Girls
27. Smile ft. Gloria Carter
28. Show Me What You Got
29. Pray
30. Caught Their Eyes (ft. Frank Ocean)
31. The City Is Mine (featuring Blackstreet)
32. Things That U Do (featuring Mariah Carey)
33. Family Feud (ft. Beyonce)
34. No Church in the Wild (featuring Frank Ocean and The-Dream)
35. Moment of Clarity

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