Jay-Z - "Can't Knock The Hustle" X "What More Can I Say"

It’s unfair how good Jay-Z is.  The man is so good, that he can make classic albums without penning another verse (as evidenced by DJ Dangermouse’s 2004 mash-up of Hov and the Beatles on The Grey Album and Mick Boogie’s recent mash-up of Jay-Z and Coldplay on Viva La Hova).  Shawn Carter’s power and presence is undeniable.  He exemplifies the three traits you need to make as a rapper.  His lyrics are potent, he has limitless swagger, and to top it off, the man’s possesses a nearly unmatched wit.  

Jay-Z’s brand of storytelling is so natural.  He never writes down his lyrics and as a listener you can tell; there’s this one line in “Friend or Foe” off of Reasonable Doubt that always gets me where he rhymes,
Don’t do that, you’remakingmenervous!/My crew, well, they do pack/themdudesismurderous!
He crams so many or so few words into a line depending on the tone of the song and makes it feel as if he’s just speaking to you.  It’s one of the most distinctive styles I’ve heard; when Jay comes on a song, you recognize him immediately.  He is an undisputed superstar and arguably the greatest rapper of all time.

With Jay, a lot of people make the mistake of labeling him as “just another rapper” simply based on the one or two singles they’ve heard.  Why they do this is understandable, but to truly comprehend Jay-Z, you must understand that he is also a businessman (and a very good one at that).  Shawn Carter has sold over 36 million units in the US alone and is one of the wealthiest entertainers of all time.  Hova’s words speak for themselves.  In terms of those who judge him on the strength of his singles, he rhymes
they only know what the single is, and singled that out to be the meaning of what [I’m] about
But no dummy, that's the shit I'm sprinklin’ the album width to keep the registers ringin’
Jay-Z, like many artists, compromises on the lyrical content of some songs in order to sell his albums to the masses.  By doing this he is able to spread the messages in his deeper, more meaningful songs to others.

Unlike artists like Mobb Deep, where the song that comes to mind immediately is “Shook Ones,” when I think of J-Hova countless quotables, songs, and entire albums come to mind.  There isn’t one particular song that you can nail to him as his one defining song.

“Can’t Knock the Hustle,” is Jay’s first song off his debut Reasonable Doubt.  The introduction, a play off a quote from Scarface, is appropriate considering that the concept of the album is based loosely around the film.  The song samples from Marcus Miller’s “Much Too Much” and Meli’sa Morgan’s “Fool’s Paradise” and features the soulful singing of Mary J. Blige.  The song serves as a classic intro to a classic album and a historic career.

“What More Can I Say,” represents Hov’s growth as an artist.  It is the third track off of his 2003 Black Album and, in my opinion, should have been Jigga’s last.  The Black Album was originally supposed to be Jay’s farwell album and I feel this song would have fit better at the end of the album—but who am I to argue with a legend.

The song starts out with the famous quote from the 2002 film Gladiator and is Jay-Z’s final answer to his critics.  On a closing note, I ask you, as you are listening, to pay particular attention to the lyrics.  Seeing as this is a rap song, the lyrics are the most important part, but there is one line in his first verse,
These Fucks/To lazy to make up shit/They crazy/They don’t…paint pictures/They just…trace me
that is one of my favorites in the entire genre.

Peace, Love, and Hova,
Notorious Noah

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