5. Ski Beatz
Before Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z was best known for the rapid-fire rhyme style he and Jaz-O used. Over time, though, S.Carter began to find his voice. And it wasn’t as a Bone Thugs knockoff. Instead, he refined his delivery to be as smooth as a Playboy playmate’s airbrushed pictorial. Gone was the anxious, high-pitched flow and in its place a more cavalier, act-like-you-had-champagne-before attitude. Partnered with Ski’s production on “Dead Presidents II” and “Feelin’ It,” Jay dismissed rivals as easy as he doubled-down on a hand of Blackjack. At times, it sounded so effortless as if he was waving the threats off while he was actually calling in bets to his bookie. “Without rap, I was crazy straight/Potna, I’m still spending money from ‘88,” he rapped on “Dead Presidents II.” The tragedy, at least to die-hards, is that the two didn’t collaborate as much as their talents should have allowed. The ratio of their success compared to the small body of work is a testament to their limited time together. But, like the hustler he is, Jay saw other acts circling Ski for beats and broke free from his main connect. Then he reloaded.

Released Tracks: 6
Album Appearances (1pt): 2 = 2pts
Officially Released Singles (2pts): 3 = 6pts
Grammy Nominations (3pts): 0 = 0pts
Top 40 Singles on Billboard Hot 100 (4pts): 0 = 0pts
Signature Track (s) (5pts): “Politics as Usual," "Dead Presidents II," "22 Twos," "Streets Is Watching," "Who You Wit" 5 = 25pts
Total: 33pts

Tune in tomorrow as XXL cracks Jay-Z's Top 4 favorite go-to producers.