Jay-Z is one of the people I most respect in the world. You can bet this is part 1 of what will eventually be a saga’s worth of blog posts dedicated to the man.
Not only is he one of the greatest musicians alive, but he’s also one of the greatest businessmen alive. He went from being a ghetto rapper to now owning a high-profile sports agency, a high-profile music agency, and probably a hundred other businesses. He’s iconic, and the greatest thing about Jay-Z is that the monument of his success is built primarily on the foundation of his musical talent. Not on any fake persona, not on any music-irrelevant publicity, not primarily on anything he does except rap. Just the words out of his mouth and the way he sounds.
Two years ago I saw Jay-Z with Kanye West on their Watch the Throne Tour, in San Jose. It was probably a top five concert I’ve ever been to. My friends and I got floor seats, and even for a hefty sum we were sitting at the back of the arena. But man, were we stoked.
So imagine, with me, our most pleasant surprise when at the start of the concert two pillars raised up on either side of the floor, one just fifteen feet to our right. Who’s on top of pillar #1, at the front of the arena? Kanye West. Who’s on top of pillar #2, fifteen feet away from us? Mr. Shawn Carter. Jay-Z straight killed Kanye West that night. Kanye is one of the best rappers alive, but Jay-Z is the best rapper alive. He was very, very clearly on another level. Jay-Z would simply emit words, and his words absolutely enraptured an audience of tens of thousands. It’s indescribable. See him if you can.
The man can rap in so many different ways, over so many different beats. That makes him prime fodder for remixes, and Urban Noize is one of the best at providing Jay-Z remixes. Urban Noize has mashed up Jay-Z with Sade, Adele, and Lana Del Rey. You know why each of those singers makes sense with Jay? Because you match class with class.
Let me put it one more way. Earlier this month, Erykah Badu asked Kendrick Lamar: “Okay, top five rappers of all time. Who are they?” And Kendrick replied, “Oh, man. Okay… give me Jay-Z.” We’ll end right there.
So check out Jay-Z with Chris Martin, remixed by Urban Noize. “Song Cry” was my first favorite song of Jay-Z’s. Yeah, I know I was late to the game, but I’m young. I’m just glad I’ve been here ever since.
Here’s an awesome Jay remix with Adele.
And one more, with Lana Del Rey.