FEATURE: Follow the Leader

Jay-Z’s influence on hip-hop culture is powerful, and the God MC isn’t ashamed to let folks know. On “Lyrical Exercise,” a bonus track off of his 2001 classic The Blueprint, Hov went on to brag, “best flow, most consistent, realest stories, most charisma, I set the most trends and my interviews are hotter, Holla!” Well, if you picked up the October 2009 issue of XXL, then you know the last part is true. And while there are some folks who may argue some of Jay’s boasts, there is one thing that is undeniable, no one in rap sets more trends.

Have you ever rocked a platinum chain? That’s Jay-Z. Dicthed your jersey for a button-up? Credit Jay. Drank Cristal? Thank Hov. He put Iceberg on the map, popularized Bentleys and Maybachs and regulated BMW’s X5 to baby mama status. Even on his latest The Blueprint 3, Jay is still bragging and boasting with no signs of slowing down. On “Empire State of Mind,” he rhymes, “Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can.” Absurd right? Not really. XXLMAG.com explores 10 of Jay-Z’s greatest trends.—Compiled by Matt Barone, Carl Chery, Jesse Gissen, Clover Hope and Rob Markman


Platinum Jewelry: “I mean like I gotta be the pioneer to this shit…wearing that platinum shit when all you chicks thought it was silver and shit.” Jay ain’t never lie. Before hopping on the scene the average rapper’s jewels looked more like Mr. T than Mr. Weezy F. Baby. You can thank the original Mr. Carter for making your trip to Zales that much more expensive.

No Pad, No Pen: Jay-Z has always bragged about not owning a rhyme book, he always was able to hash out his song on the spot, using a combination of his wit and immense memory. The technique spawned a lot of imitators, namely Lil Wayne, Kanye West and T.I., among others, who have all also bragged about using the same song writing method.

The popularization of Cristal: Prior to the summer of 2006, Jay-Z hadn’t come across an opportunity to drop a Cristal reference in a verse that he could pass up. His high-end champagne of choice, the gold-labeled drink—which has been available commercially since 1945, though its creation dates back to 1876—made nearly as many cameos in Jigga’s songs as Memphis Bleek. From “Dead Presidents II” (“The icon, baby, you like Dom/Maybe this Cristal’s, to change your whole life”) to “Imaginary Player” (“I was popping that Cristal when y’all niggas thought it was beer and shit”), his incessant brand-name-dropping gave the company tons of mojo.


Bentleys: Mr. Carter has long been outspoken regarding his appreciation for Bentley automobiles. He lovingly called out the Bentley Azure on “Jigga That Nigga” (off of The Blueprint), and, most recently, he dropped the top-of-the-line whip brand’s name on The Blueprint 3’s closer, “Young Forever” (“Slamming Bentley doors, hopping out of Porsches/Poppin’ up on Forbes lists, gorgeous”).


Icerberg: Name-checking the brand in several lyrics, Hov helped popularize Iceberg in the late ’90s. At one point, the BK MC became so synonymous with the line that his shows were filled with concert-goers donning Loney Tunes characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on their sweaters.

Sped Up Soul Sampling: With relatively new producers Kanye West, Just Blaze and Bink producing most of The Blueprint, the God MC helped end the syntheziser era and resurrect soul sampling in the same breath. Taking a cue from Wu-Tang Clan’s the RZA, who had made a trademark out of sprinkling vocals onto his tracks, Yeezy and Just sped up the samples to give it a new twist. Sure, Hov didn’t actually bang on the MPC or the ASR-10, but he had the foresight to usher in hip-hop’s new sound. Soon, everybody from T.I. to Cam’ron benefited from Roc-A-Fella’s chipmunk sound.


Killed Throwback Jerseys: “And I don’t wear jerseys, I’m thirty plus/Give me a crisp pair of jeans, nigga button up.” Founded in 1904, it took decades for Mitchell & Ness to become hip-hop’s brand du jour. Yet, with only two lines off “What More Can I Say” from The Black Album, Jigga made throwback jerseys irrelevant in a matter of weeks.

Button (Up) Down Shirts: It’s not like MCs never wore button down shirts before, they just hardly ever did it in a casual fashion. Following Jay’s fashion advice, the throwback jersey set took to colorfully loud button down shirts as their go-to attire. Change clothes, and go!


Maybach: Way before Rick Ross was making Maybach Music, Jiggaman had already traded in his benz for the ultra luxurious ride. Ever since you couldn’t watch an episode of Cribs without rappers and celebrities alike bragging about their new miracle whip. Too bad the six-figure price tag doesn’t also include a verse from Jay.

D.O.C. (Death of Cristal): Mojo that Hov quickly eradicated come June 2006, however, when he staged an all-out boycott against Cristal. In an interview with The Economist, Frederic Rouzad—managing director for Louis Roederer, the company that produces Cristal—responded to a question about the brand’s feelings toward an association with hip-hop’s “bling lifestyle” with, “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it.” Viewing the quote as racist, Jay-Z subsequently put his once-beloved drink on ice, omitting “Cristal” from all of his lyrics and discontinuing sales of the champagne at all of his 40/40 venues. Three years later, Cristal’s visibility rivals that of Zima.


  • K.ing

    This site dick rides too much….

    • arw3000

      I’m a big fan of hov. Next to Andre there is no better mc. But u right cuz. this site stays on Jay’s tip.

      • supersupreme

        co sign
        XXL dickridin

    • makaveli1671

      Pac was talking about cristal way back on all eyez on me so jay did not star that trend…he is responsible for platinum jewels becoming popular but fuck jay z….I still wear a Gayle Sayers throwback & I was rocking button up shirts when niggaz was just getting up on throwbacks

      • Makaveli 1671

        And as far as not writing lyrics down didnt he steal that from biggie….yall be on jay z dick too hard….I bet he even be like damn they on my dick when he read some of this shit!….Did jay really make soul samples popular?…because from my understanding jay z dont make beats….I thought he was just a hustler disguised as a rapper

        • http://www.xxl.com MADNEWYORKER914

          @Makaveli 1671, nigga, you are sucking PAC’s dick to hard!!! Jay didn’t start the platinum trend!!! A lot of that stuff they talked about on the “ROC”, Biggs was the one that put them on to all of that expensive crap!!! But platinum was being rocked way before Jay-Z. I remember a rapper back in the early 90′s a certain rapper wearing it on the Arsenio Hall show, but I forgot who it was.

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    ^^gotta give credit where credit is due.

    No Pad, No Pen: that shit dont work for everybody (im talking about YOU Gucci Mane). Wayne is str8 @ it, i guess. T.I. got to where he is today (success wise, not prison) w/out writing shit down, kudos. but, Paper Trail is one of the best albums to come out of the south. imagine if he wrote on every song.?
    Bentleys: hells yea. MTV Cribs anyone? everybody was saying “you aint a big dawg til’ you got one of these (a Bentley)”. (shit Cristal too)
    Iceberg: real talk. i still got a pair of them deep, deep in my closet (dem shits is siver, lol)
    Sped Up Soul Sampling: Thank You Kanye West. Down & Out – Cam’ron, nuff said

    • http://xxl ryan

      1st off kanye west didnt make the down & out beat someone else did. And that soul sampling shit started to blow up when the diplomats and heatmakers hooked up (just peep that diplomatic immunity album, its all over it). then jayz does what he does best swagger jack that shit and make it seem as if his circle(kanye west n just blaze) started it. 2nd biggie made that no pen no pad shit famous, jayz just carried on the tradition. This is pathetic how badly yall are riding jayz right now. I’m not saying he didnt start some trends but dam yall making it seem as if this dude started hip hop itself.

      • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

        Wasn’t Blueprint released 2 years before Diplomatic Immunity?

        • http://xxl ryan

          yea it was but it really didnt take off until diplomatic immunity dropped

        • http://xxl ryan

          yea it was but it really didnt take off until diplomatic immunity dropped.

        • yoprince

          lmao

      • T Lee

        So you still wear throwbacks any day of the week?

        So you don’t have a Yankee fitted?

        So you didn’t do the button-ups ’round ’03?

        Jay-Z is a trendsetter is all the article’s saying. It’s never about who did it first but who did it best.

        ——————————

        Biggie had playas on the Coogi sweaters, Pac still got dudes yelling M.O.B, had em rocking bandanas like headbands, nose-rings (fellas & chicks), 50 (not LL) got everybody working out, had everybody in the tank tops, Remember when Jay had ya wearing the funny style sunglasses from “Give It To Me” video….But who had everybody getting braids????

        • http://WWW.MAJORMUVS.COM *BLOCK*

          BLOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

          AS FAR AS THE BRAIDS…KRISS KROSS MAYBE…THATS AROUND THE TIME I REMEMBER IT GETTING BIG

      • Hanch

        Umm Didnt The Blueprint come out before the Diplomatic Immunity Album? I think so it sounds like you just want to Hate. Look how far you have sunk just to be a Hater!!!

    • http://xxl ryan

      1st off kanye west didnt make the down & out beat someone else did. And that soul sampling shit started to blow up when the diplomats and heatmakers hooked up (just peep that diplomatic immunity album, its all over it). then jayz does what he does best swagger jack that shit and make it seem as if his circle(kanye west n just blaze) started it. 2nd biggie made that no pen no pad shit famous, jayz just carried on the tradition. This is pathetic how badly yall are riding jayz right now. I’m not saying he didnt start some trends but dam yall making it seem as if this dude started hip hop itself.

      xxl give credit where its due not to ur fav rapper

    • arw3000

      Paper trail was cold! But damn I wish Lil Wayne would write his lyrics. I gotta search for songs where he aint talkin about some bullshit. He could take a lesson from Tip.

  • bull

    XXL STOP DICKRIDING JAY-Z. WE ARE BORED WITH IT!!!

  • tronthadon

    “Paper Trail is one of the best albums to come out of the south”
    Im from tha A to homie but thats a dumb ass statement that shit aint fuckin with I’m Serious or Trap Musik..but Jay do set trends like none other

  • General

    Really? How many idiots on here actually follow? I don’t remember the last time I checked with Jay before I decided what to wear, drink, drive, or listen to…

  • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    This is kinda bullshit. Rae and Ghost were popping crisital in 95. And if RZA invented it, and Ye and Blaze popularized it, how does Jay get credit for it. And isn’t obsessing about cars and not writing lyrics a bad thing? As Joe Budden once said, “The more rappers said they didn’t write they lyrics, the more it sounded like they didn’t”

    • supersupreme

      i co sign that shit
      rae and ghost were doin crisital on OB4CL
      and you say rza invented it, he should get credit. and then you go on to say ye and blaze copied it and still jay gets credit? jay should write his lyrics cause he wack

  • jburg

    Outkast was on throwbacks before Jay was.

    • http://xxlmag j

      yea but jay made it popular. just like nwa didnt start gangsta rap but commercialized it.

  • abdulnasir

    Co-sign K.ing and what’s with Jay giving the masonic eye in the first picture? Any1 notice?

    • DetroitDraper

      He even put the eye of osiris on his clothing(Roc hats)…I encourage a like mind like you to visit vigilantcitizen.com…very interesting read.

      MAYN HOL’UP

  • abdulnasirl

    True, it was Outkast that really started the throwback trend.

  • avon

    i agree with most but i kinda think diddy was shouting out the bentley before jay and jay may have been one of the first to rock platinum he aint make it pop like cash money did

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

    I’ll give Jay credit as recognizing how influetial he may be, but it’s wasn’t so much that he was starting trends. He just a platform much broader to speak from, so more folks listened.

    I stopped wearing throwbacks because them shits got itchy in the summer, not because Jigga said so.

  • Mutada/Mullah Atari

    Thats pic of him and B in the Maybach is sick. That bitch was in her prime at the time.

  • http://-- gaddic

    xxL MAG IS A jay-z dick-rider magazine

    proof
    On their covers the most
    2 XXL Ratings (when Biggie and Eminem only got one for their 2nd Lps and everyone knows their debuts were undeniable classics)
    Calling him arguably the greatest rapper of all time in their recent interview
    Hiphop dx is a better online magazine
    Y’all should check it out
    Better mostly unbiased reviews, respect for underground acts and no big- name artist dick-riding

    • http://xxl ryan

      yea hiphopdx is better when it comes to recognizing hip hop as a whole unlike xxl only caring about mainstream shit

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest was the original jersey king.

    “And if RZA invented it(sped up sample), and Ye and Blaze popularized it, how does Jay get credit for it.”

    Thank you Incilin.

    “Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can.”

    NEGRO PLEASE.

    I give him credit for blowing up Iceberg(w/o endorsement), & killing the throwback fad. That’s it.

  • k.ing

    Nigga Fab made throw backs cool….

    all jay does is copy what the next nigga is doing…..

    Real talk i heard Pac and Big rappin about Cristal, Mase was the first cat i heard say bently….

    Man i swear u niggas dick ride too much and that why yo Mag ain’t shit right now….

    Break some new artist and get off jay z’s dick….

    SMH @ Boi erasing my Comments….

    Nigga mad cause i said Nelly flopped and 50 only took six weeks to go plat… when it took jay 6 months….

  • Joe

    How old (shall is say young) are yall? Its not d* riding if its true.

    ‘Yo Obama is the shyt, first black president’

    “Damn son, you d* ridin” SMH

    d*ridin, diss, swag, stan… if u use these words still in 2009 u Lost.

    If you dont understand Jay as a trendsetter you lyin to yaself, period. Shyt i rmember my 10th grade year everybody rockin hawaiin shirts cuz of ‘Its Alright’ video. Fuk outta here

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      So you think Jay started the Yankee cap fad?

      Yankee merchandise has ALWAYS been in style. Cats were rocking Yankee caps to match their SATIN STARTER JACKETS back in ’84.

      We were wearing Hawaiian SUITS in ’86 with Kareem adidas & leather Puma Baskets.

      Isn’t Negro League merchandise considered “throwback”??? We were wearing that before Jay even came out.

      Heads have always wore button ups(Kane/Rickey D/Dana Dane/Heavy D/Grandaddy I.U./Biggie).

      If Jay made anyone “change clothes”, you need a mirror check.

      I give them HARLEM FLY GUYS more credit for being trend setters. If you lived hip hop in NY, you went to 125th to get your flavor dosage.

      People can use any term they want, so long as others understand where they are coming from.

  • brand-new

    let’s not forget the yankee hat!? “check out my hat yo, and peep the way i wear it” a lot of cats were rockin their hat like jay for a minute.

  • RL

    I don’t care how much money Jay spends for his own self-aggrandizement, it’s all about what he’s contributed to hip hop. At one time, Jay was a masterful lyricist but even that’s owed to those that he’s admired and been mentored by. ie. Kool G, BDK, JAZ AND SAUCE MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Info by John Doe

    NIGGA PLZ 2PAC STARTED DAT CRISTAL SHIT WITH DAT THUG PASSION!!!!!!!!!!
    NIGGA PLZ 2PAC STARTED DAT CRISTAL SHIT WITH DAT THUG PASSION!!!!!!!!!!

  • TEZZY

    Damm is it me or is it alot of hate on EVERY post posted up xxl.com is full of haters it must be a bunch of teenagers on this shit

  • King Joffy Joe

    Jay-Z is cool and all, but WHY IN THE FUCK would I stop doing something just because a rapper said so? Fuck outta here. Hov never killed throwback jerseys. Allthough he may have tried, for some undisclosed reason, but for the most part, niggas ARE STILL wearing throwbacks like it’s 2003. That’s just like saying that those faggot-ass Franchise Boyz killed throwbacks. What? Hell no! The only reason why XXL dickrides on Jay so much is because they look to him as an icon. That’s why whenever he says or does something, you niggas treat it like it’s a new law in hip-hop. This is so because Dem Franchise Boyz was on that same jersey hatin’ shit back in ’04 with that lame-ass “White Tee” song. But did that kill it? No, of course not. Their not big like Jay-Z. So stop looking at these niggas that, when they say a hot 16, you get all hot-and bothered, as a guideline on how to live your fuckin’ life. Grow up, Stans of XXL.

    -K. Joffy Joseph

  • teddy

    how did u guys forget retiring after jay did the retirement thing everyone was claiming there gonna retire after their next album, game, cudi, lupe, saigon, etc

  • Fireforreal

    as well as 50,diddy and bunch of rappers nobody really gives a fuck about because there wack anyway.

  • Nat Turner II

    I wonder how many people read the comments here and decided not to leave one…

  • money mitch

    everyone knows damn well that biggie was the one that originated not writing your lyrics down!! and that cristal bullshit

  • DADE COUNTY 305

    NIGGAZ CAN SAY WHO STARTED WHAT B4 JAY AND HATE ALL THEY WANT… JAY-Z MADE ALL THAT SHIT POPULAR AND THE NIGGA IS A LIVING LEGEND!!! OH YEAH… BP3 IS FIRE!!!! STRAIGHT CLASSIC!!!

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    lol @ young bul tawkin bout dip set set that trend. please, blueprint came out way before that and they jacked it. what the small minded fails to realize is that cam’ron did that swagger jacking diss, but he jacked so much from jay, pac, biggie and others. that wasn’t swagger jackin that was nother trend. jay big ups biggie in his rhymes as ti does him and etc. this is not xxl riding jayz they are forced to cover his success. jay is the hot story now and the story writes itself. all of these are facts. they missed one. SWAG. jay started that from austin powers on that bp2 o behave. it takes a while for pop culture to catch on, but he did it. Yap. sweet, o ya can’t forget the catch phrases.

  • http://www.myspace.com/opalellyse Opal Ellyse

    I HEART JAY:) he is a trend setter. . don’t forget he killed Steve Madden for us ladies too. . .we can’t all afford Manolos n shh lol:)

  • T Lee

    Yeah he did kill the Maddens and the Burberry pattern shit…

    Probably woulda killed auto-tune better in a verse rather than a song

  • Knowledgeable

    A lot of these cats leaving comments are confused. A trendsetter isn’t necessarily the first one to do something; it is the person that makes it popular.

    Obviously Jay wasn’t the first to wear a Yankee hat, use soul samples and drink Cristal. He made it POPULAR. As a person who is greatly admired and has so many fans, when he starts using a style, many others naturally follow.

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    Ya gotta give big hommie he’s due when it cums 2 settin’ trends.

    Most of the trends,howeva’ were’nt started by him but dude made them popular like if they c him wear 1 they on that 2.

    He still got the baddest b***tch by his side…

  • Chris S

    hop off his sack

  • http://xxl DIZZOEH

    Alize and Cristal – Thug Passion = 2pac.

  • KLETEWOOD

    Didn’t the Hot Boys bring Platinum to the plate? Everything was platinum….

    2Pac started that Cristal shit?

    Dre rapped about BC (Bentley Coupe) on Always into Something with MC Ren…

    Jay Z. takes credit for everything. Watch…fools are gonna stop wearing “SKINNY JEANS” and Jay Z gonna say…”I don’t wear skinny jeans cause my not’s don’t fit”. Just because a trend dies doesn’t meant Jay Z was the pioneer.

    • 88_CUTLASS

      they were talking about benz in that song. and not BC’s. and i think that was dre verse when he said hop in the benz and said dre i was speaking to that bitch oshay

      but like the article said, HE DIDNT START SOME OF THESE TRENDS, HE JUST MADE IT POPLULAR, SO EVERYBODY CALM DOWN

      • KLETEWOOD

        Fo Sho’ it was a BENZ. Its been a minute since I heard that track.

        Hop in de Benz and it was Ren on the mothafuckin’ trigger
        He got in the Benz and said
        “Dre I was speakin’ to de bitch O’shey” [Ice Cube]
        And as we roll on I seen the patrol on crip
        So we got ghost because they beat
        Me and Ren in de black CE, yo,
        Poppin’ some funky shit by de D.O.C

        ON A SIDE NOTE….DRE DID BRING THE 64 TREND TO THE GAME.

  • UNITURNZ2000

    It’s not the fact that u stopped doing it cuz Jay told u to, its the fact that the majority of people stopped doing whatever it was and u dont want to b the only one thats left doing it