Shawn Carter is celebrating his 46th birthday today and as a gift he gets his own unauthorized biography. If you want to celebrate with the music mogul you can head over to Netflix and watch the newly added A Genius Leaves The Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay Z. Produced by Moguldom Studios the 60-minute documentary delves into the street-smart and ever cunning mind of hip-hop’s most successful MC by interviewing those who were around him as he hustled his way to the top and proved to us it’s bigger than hip-hop.
Watch the trailer here:
To kick off the bday festivities here are our editor’s picks of all-time fave Jay-Z songs:
“Can’t Knock the Hustle” Reasonable Doubt, 1996
Back to where it all started, this single off his debut album captures the whole essence of his career – his determination to make it big. Add Mary J. Blige on the hook and the remnants of the golden era of hip-hop and you have a timeless street anthem.
“I Just Wanna Love You” The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, 2000
“It’s about to go DOWN!” this is the quintessional club anthem that was the soundtrack to most of my early twenties. Nothing tops actually being in club Amnesia as Jay-Z walks in with his entourage while this song is playing. This song will always hold a nostalgic place in my heart for that moment. And plus, it takes us back to when him and Dame actually got along.
“Izzo” The Blueprint, 2001
Another feel good song which is the first of many produced by Kanye West which ushers in the new era of Roc-A-Fella.
“Guns and Roses” The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Ok, this choice might out me as a lesser Jay-Z fan, but to me it epitomizes the best of Sean Carter’s charms with brash, introspective lyrics laid over the weirdest of genre-grafts featuring a sample of an indie jazz instrumental by Cake and a searing, unforgiving guitar riff from Lenny Kravitz.
“Empire State of Mind” The Blueprint 3
Of all the overplayed songs in the world, had to get this one stuck in my head for a decade. Yes, it’s about as obvious a pick as there is, but it’s real words spoke with real passion about the city that made Hova Hova, and damned if I don’t feel a flush of pride in my hometown when I hear the pounding break.