Jay Z Explains Why He’s On Top (SFCritic Exclusive)


I wrote this article a few years ago for Betterpropaganda, but thought I’d republish it because I enjoyed the piece. Jay Z was included amongst a list of top artists in the last decade.

Jay Z (Ft. Notorious B.I.G.): “Allure” (Ratatat Remix)

Nobody knows Jay Z better than Jay Z. So why should I try explaining his legacy, skills, impact, and story—when he can? This piece is a montage of Jay Z’s lyrics throughout all his albums. With a little narration, I’ll let him explain why we should consider him one of top 100 artists of the last 10 years.

SFCritic (SFC): Jay Z, you’ve sold millions of hip hop records. From hustlin’ streets to MTV Unplugged, how would you describe your impact in hip hop?

Jay Z:
I’m, young H.O., rap’s Grateful Dead
I keep it realer than most, I know you’re feelin it
I can’t see ’em comin down my eyes
So I gotta make the song cry

SFC: Your music is pretty well known—no?

Jay Z:
Then run and tell them ducks you heard Hovi new shit
He and the boy Phar-real make beautiful music
He is to the East coast what Snoop is
To the West, what ‘Face is to Houston

SFC: What about your lyrical content? Every rapper raps about the hood. Every rapper seems to talk about sex, drugs and booty, what makes you a top artist?

Jay Z:
Radio’s gotta play me though I cuss too much
Magazine said I’m shallow, I never learned to swim
Just read a magazine that fucked up my day
How you rate music that thugs with nothin relate to it?
I help them see they way through it – not you
Can’t step in my pants, can’t walk in my shoes
Bet everything you worth; you lose your tie and your shirt
Can’t deny me, why would you want to
You need me, why don’t you try me

SFC: So I can’t critique you because I haven’t walked a day in your shoes. So if you’re content is not much different than other, what can critics point to say, “this is one of the greatest hip hop artists?”

Jay Z:
I stretched the game out, X’ed your name out
I’m a business man, not a business man
Demandin y’all respect, hand over a check
And while y’all at it, hand over the jet
We the reason they ain’t hand over Def Jam so quick
They knew every year I was droppin new product
I was raisin the stock up, while buildin the Roc up
I’m a hustler homey, you a customer crony

SFC: So where does that leave you Jay? In the greats of hip hop, where do you stand with your comeback?

Jay Z:
Can’t call this a comeback, I run rap, the fuck is y’all sayin?
Five million I done that, and I come back, to do it again (uh-huh)
Ex-sinner, Grammy award winner
I came, I saw and I conquered, from record sales to sold out concerts
Maybe you’ll love me when I fade to black
If you can’t respect that, your whole perspective is whack

SFC: You heard the man, if you can’t respect that, your whole perspective is whack!