The 10 most memorable Jay-Z collaborations



So…the Blueprint 3 came out last week to much fan fare, selling over 500,000 copies in its first week.  With that debut, Jay-Z surpassed Elvis Presley as the artist with the most number 1 debut albums (11) of all time.  That’s all well and good, but I wanted to take a look back at some of those songs in which another artist collaborated with Jay-Z, because, although Jay is great in his own right, some of his collaborations have helped to create the mystique that surrounds Jay-Z today.  So, without further adieu, the 10 most memorable Jay-Z collabo’s of all time…

Note: My love of hip-hop automatically prevents me from putting Memphis Bleek on this list.  Sorry.

Note #2: The songs are Jay’s songs only. So joint collaborations (Jay & R.Kelly) or songs on which Jay is featured do not count.

Blueprint 2: Gift & The Curse Album Cover

10. Beyonce — ’03 Bonnie & Clyde (off of 2002’s Blueprint II: The Gift & The Curse)

First and only mention of the otherwise forgettable Blueprint II, I promise.  This song, in which “Jay and B” basically just talked about needing each other and no one else in the world (how adorable!) dominated the airwaves (and later a certain Chris Rock movie) the summer it was released.  The collabo was memorable because 1. it was the first song in which “Jay & B” were on the track together and the combination of arguably the largest pop act and the largest rap act will get attention, regardless. 2. the subject matter fueled speculation that the two might be dating  3. it was catchy as all

Memorable line(s): “She gets “Carrie-fever” but as soon as the shows over, she’s right back to being my soldier…”

Reasonble Doubt Album Cover

9. Foxy Brown — Ain’t No Nigga (off of 1996’s Reasonable Doubt)

Jay’s second-ever single with a then 17 year old Foxy Brown took the Four Tops classic Aint No Woman, and spun it on its head.  Instead of talking about how great his woman is, Jay raps alongside a materialistic Foxy Brown about satisfying his lady, but also recognizing that there are a lot of other ladies that need to be satisfied as well.

Memorable line(s): “I’ve been sinnin since you been playin wit Barbie and Ken in, you can’t change a playa’s game in the 9th inning…”

Jay-z-vol-2-hard-knock-life8. Jaz-O — Nicca What, Nicca Who? (off of 1998’s Volume 2: Hard Knock Life)

This song off of Volume 2, which also featured Amil-lion, was memorable because it was the first time we had seen Jay-Z rap with the quickened cadence.  Although the two rappers would develop apparently never-ending rap beef (Jay still mentioned Jaz-O on Blueprint 3) this was another song that was stuck in everyone’s head in ’98, even if they couldn’t say all the words.  Timbaland’s beat, which could still play in clubs today, combined with the quickened flow of Jay and Jaz-O combine to make this memorable song #8.

Memorable line: “Take this ride make you feel it inside your belly, if its tight get the K-Y Jelly”


7. Gloria Carter — December 4th (off of 2003’s Black Album)

Jay even got his mom on a song…how many people can say that?  That in and of itself is what makes this song memorable.  It also sort of helped to bring things full circle on Jay-Z’s career (which we thought was ending at the time).  Hearing his mom talk about his birth and him growing up and then listening to Jay rapping on his then “last album”? Hard to forget.

Memorable line: “Sean Carter was born September 4th, weighing in at 10lbs 4oz.”


6. UGK — Big Pimpin (off of 1999’s Volume 3: The Life and Times of S.Carter”)

Another Timbaland beat that I think could still play in a club today and people wouldn’t notice that its 10 years old.  This song was memorable because of UGK.  Although they were already well-known down in Houston before this song came out, Big Pimpin introduced the rest of the world to the awesomeness that was Bun-B and Pimp C.

Memorable line: “I’m a pimp in every sense of the word, bitch, better trust and believe him”


5. Alicia Keys — Empire State of Mind (off of 2009’s Blueprint 3)

Yeah, I hear you.  Of course your yelling at me saying “how are you including this song as being memorable when it just came out a week ago?” My response? give it time.  This track simultaneously makes non-New Yorkers wish they were from New York, while somehow being reminiscent of the classic Jay track, Dead Presidents.

Memorable line: “Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game, shit I made the Yankee hat more famous than the Yankee camp”


4. Pharrell Williams — I Just Wanna Love U (off of 2000’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia)

Monster song.  This album wasnt even that good when you look at the tracks, but this song almost single-handedly redeems it.  The Neptunes kill this beat and Pharrell’s high pitched falsetto fits the song perfect combined with Jay’s flow makes this one a classic.  I heard this in the club less than a month ago, and not only did people start dancing, everyone started mouthing the words.

Memorable line:  “6 model chicks, 6 bottles of cris, 4 belevedere’s got weed everywhere”

So, we’re down to the final 3.  There isn’t even a lot to say about them. If you don’t like them, there’s something wrong with you.  No, seriously.

Reasonble Doubt Album Cover

3. Mary J. Blige — Can’t Knock the Hustle (off of 1996’s Reasonable Doubt)

Depending on who you talk to, this is the best Jay-Z song of all time, coming off of arguably the best Jay-z album of all time.  I don’t really even have anything to say about this, except stop reading this article, go listen to this song, then come back.  If you are a music fan, you like this song. If you don’t like this song, you aren’t a music fan.  Jay’s lyrics? kill it. Mary’s vocals? kill it. the beat? nice. (arguably better when The Roots did it live on Jay-Z’s unplugged album).

Memorable line: “Can’t knock the way a nicca eatin, f*ck you even”

Reasonble Doubt Album Cover

2. Notorious B.I.G. — Brooklyn’s Finest (off of 1996’s Reasonable Doubt)

Again, there’s not a lot I can even say. Take arguably the two best rappers of all time, and pit them against each other for three verses and this is what you get. CLASSIC.

Memorable line:  “Who shot ya? Mob ties like Sinatra”

This text is a place holder because everything is screwy.

And the number 1 Jay-Z collaboration is…(drum roll please)…

Jay-z-the-blueprint1. Eminem — Renegade (off of 2001’s The Blueprint)

This is probably the only collabo where almost everyone you ask will tell you that Jay got ate on it. Even Jay himself shouts out the quality of Em’s verse on Star is Born on the Blueprint 3.  That in and of itself makes the song memorable.  And its not like Jay-Z is a slouch on his verses either.  Add to that the fact that they basically both sing the chorus (hilarious) and that makes this the most memorable Jay-Z collabo of all time.

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1 Tweet


  1. forbesave

    10 most memorable Jay-Z collaborations #music #jayz

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. cx2020

    Any list without the hot Jay-Z J.D. collabo, money aint a thing is ... probably fairly accurate. Although as underrated as Reasonable Doubt was it might be some revisionist history to pick two songs in the top 3.

  3. griffn

    This is a solid list. I just have a few gripes.

    1) Hall of Fame lineup aside, "Brooklyn's Finest" is a mediocre song to me. And it isn't even the best Biggie/Jay-Z collab. That would be "A Dream" from the Blueprint 2 album. Even with the recycled Biggie verse, it's probably my number one.

    2) I would put "Do It Again" featuring Beanie Siegel and Amil somewhere in my top 5. Beanie absolutely murders the opening verse and Jay-Z comes awfully close to matching it: "I seen the same shit happen to Kane, three cuts in your eyebrows trying to wile out...."

    3) Maybe this is the emo teenager in me talking, but I'd also find a place on my list for one of those Jay-Z/Linkin Park collabs. "Numb/Encore" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder/Lying From You" would probably both make my top 10.

  4. griffn

    Also, I agree with you, "Empire State of Mind" is major and already deserves a spot on this list. That hook is amazing. But "Run This Town" has grown on me tremendously in the last month. I love Rihanna's voice, Jay spits two solid verses, and Kanye kills it in the cleanup spot. I think it makes my list as well.

  5. aaron lucier

    negro, i think the lyric is, "Sh-t I made the yankee hat more famous than a yankee can..." but hey, its your world.


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