Jay-Z hasn’t lost a step. Though his body of work has received mixed reviews since coming out of retirement, the God MC’s rhyme skills are still without reproach. In conjunction with the fifth year anniversary of Kingdom Come, XXLMag.com looks back at Jay’s Greatest Post-Retirement Verses.—XXL Staff


50. “30 Something” [First Verse], Kingdom Come (2006)
Jay gets his grown man on and a new slogan is born. 30’s the new 20.
Best Lines: “I don't got the bright watch, I got the right watch/I don't buy out the bar, I bought the nightspot.”


49. “Run This Town” [First Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Despite being outshined by Kanye, Hov delivers a solid opening verse and gives birth to another trend. All black everything!
Best Lines: Yeah, I'm talking five comma, six zeroes, dot zero, here Doug/Back to running circles round niggas/Now we squared up, hold up.”


48. “Thank You” [Third Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Hov touches on 9-11—turning the date into slang for ethering MCs and speaks on the horrific day eight years later.
Best Lines: “Who woulda thought by making birds migrate/For the winter I be fly all summer might I say.”


47. “Pray” [First Verse], American Gangster (2007)
Jay explains how he went from selling crack rock to being a legit businessman. Best Lines: “Look… mind state of a gangster from the 40's/Meets the business mind of Motown's Berry Gordy/Turned crack rock into a chain of 40/40's.”


46. “As Real As It Gets” [Second Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Yet another reminder from Hov that he’s ahead of the curve.
Best Lines: At a snails pace I won this race that y’all trail/Uh, uh, Blueprint's for sale/Followin' my footprints you can’t fail/Set sail, I used to duck shots but now I eat quail/I'll probably never see jail.”


45. “American Dreamin’” [Second Verse], American Gangster (2011)
Hovi references Depeche Mode and Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa in back to back lines and makes it all make sense.
Best Lines: “Who in the F knows how to be successful/ Need a ‘personal Jesus,’ I'm in Depeche Mode/They say its celestial, its all in the stars/Like Tony LaRussa on how you play your Cards.”


44. “That’s My Bitch,” Watch the Throne (2011)
Jigga campaigns for famous Black women to get as much recognition as their white counterparts.
Best Lines: “I mean Marilyn Monroe, she's quite nice/ But why all the pretty icons always all white?/Put some colored girls in the MoMA/ Half these broads ain’t got nothing on Willona.”


43. “Blue Magic” [First Verse], American Gangster (2007)
Jay revisits his hustler days for the first time in years on this lead off single from AG.
Best Lines: “Open your mind you see the circus in the sky/ I'm Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey with the pies/No matter how you slice it I'm your motherfuckin guy.”


42. On Fabolous’s “Brooklyn,” From Nothin’ to Somethin’ (2007)
Jay spits that Brooklyn Bullshit on this guest verse from Fab’s LP.
Best Lines: “Shit ever gets thick, back to robbing niggas quick/ Trick, click, ante up, all you niggas Britney -- pull your panties up.”

Roc A Fella CEO Jay Z

41. “Empire State of Mind” [Third Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Hov brings his Big Apple anthem home on this closing verse.
Best Lines: “MDMA got you feeling like a champion/The city never sleeps, better slip you a Ambien.”


40. “The Joy, ” Watch the Throne (2011)
Jigga goes down memory lane over this soulful, Curtis Mayfield sampling production courtesy of Pete Rock.
Best Lines: “Pete Rock, let the needle drop/I seen so much as a kid they surprised I don’t needle pop.”


39. “What We Talkin’ About” [First Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Jay ironically runs down a laundry list of things and people that aren’t worth being discussed.
Best Lines: “People keep talking 'bout ‘Hov take it back’/I'm doin' better than before/Why would I do that?”


38. “No Hook” American Gangster (2007)
The Marcy Projects delegate rocks a lengthy verse sans chorus.
Best Lines: “Please don't compare me to other rappers/ Compare me to trappers, I'm more Frank Lucas than Ludacris/And Luda's my dude, I ain't trying to diss/Like Frank Lucas is cool, but I ain't trying to snitch.”


37. “Dead Presidents III,” Unreleased (2008)
Jigga parallels hoops and the streets on this cutting room floor joint off of BP3.
Best Lines: “Handlin' since a teen like LeBron or Sebastian/High school graduates/Straight to the league/I ain't waitin' for my knee to blow/Yesterday I was needin' this dough.”


36. “Murder to Excellence” [Third Verse], Watch the Throne (2011)
Jay ponders lyrically about the state of the African-America elite.
Best Lines: “In sheepskin coats, I silence the lambs/ Do you know who I am, Clarice?/No cheap cologne whenever I “shh-shh”/ Success never smelled so sweet/I stink of success, the new black elite.”


35. “Success” [Second Verse], American Gangster (2007)
Jay teams up with Nas for the second time on this self-explanatory track off of AG.
Best Lines: “I'm way too important to be talking about extorting/ Asking me for a portion is like asking for a coffin/Broad daylight I'll off your on switch/You're not too bright, goodnight long kiss.”


34. Hov takes stunting to new highs by name-checking Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.
Best Lines: “Uhh, I don't know why they worry 'bout my pockets/Meanwhile I had Oprah chillin’ in the projects/Had her out in Bed-Stuy, chillin’ on the steps/Drinkin’ quarter waters, I gotta be the best/M.J. at Summer Jam, Obama on the text/Y'all should be afraid of what I'm gon' do next.”


33. “Illest Motherfucker Alive,” Watch the Throne (2011)
Another solid Hov verse filled with Michael Jordan, Beatles and championship references.
Best Lines:Michael Jordan swag/Y’all think Michael Jordan back/Nigga, I got five more rings than Michael Jordan had/Elvis just left the building, now I’m on the Beatles ass.”


32. “Party Life” [Second Verse], American Gangster (2007)
Jay’s no one trick pony. He references football, too. Peep the QB line.
Best Lines: “He's my little quarterback - ya dig?/ Cause I'm all that in the sack; yeah, ya dig?”


31. Venus Vs. Mars” [Third Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Jay touches on the perpetually bumpy dynamic between men and women.
Best Lines:Said I party too much, shorty got fed up/ Shorty got Britney, shaved her whole head up/We used to make out, kissing each other's face off/Fell for the Ponzi scheme, damn shorty just made off.”


30. Nas’s “Black Republican,” Hip Hop Is Dead (2006)
Jay tells a tale of frenemies on this highly anticipated collaboration with foe-turned-friend, Nas.
Best Lines: “All to a head like a coin, cha-ching/The root of evil strikes again, this could sting/Now the team got beef between the post and the point/This puts the ring in jeopardy, indefinitely.”


29. “H.A.M,” Watch the Throne (2011)
Jay finally responds to Birdman’s claims that Lil Wayne has more skills and bank than him.
Best Lines: “Niggas fantasize about the shit that I do daily/Like these rappers rap about all the shit that I do really/I’m like really half a billi/Nigga, really, you got baby money/Keep it real with niggas, niggas ain’t got my lady money.”


28. “Empire State of Mind,” [Second Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009) Hov big ups everything from NY cabs to the Labor Day Parade on this second verse.
Best Lines: “Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game/ Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can.”


27. On Lil Wayne’s “Mr. Carter,” Tha Carter III (2008)
Shawn Carter passes the torch to the self-proclaimed, “Best rapper alive.”
Best Lines: “Show no mercy to Murcielago/Far from being the bastard that Marcy had fathered/Now my name's been mentioned with the martyrs/The Biggies and the Pacs and the Marleys and the Marcuses”


26. “Put On (Remix),” Unreleased (2008)
Jay runs down his impressive resume on the first of back to back guest appearances on Jeezy remixes.
Best Lines: “All these niggas taking credit for the work that I put in/If you really put me on, put yourself on then.”


25. “Welcome to the Jungle,” [Second Verse] Watch the Throne (2011)
Jay pieces personal thoughts and political notes into a cohesive collage.
Best Lines: “Champagne for the pain/Weed for the low/God Damn, I’m so high/Where the fuck did I go?/I’m losing myself/I’m stuck in the moment/I look in the mirror/My only opponent/Where the fuck is the press?/Where the fuck is the prez/Either they know, or don’t care, I’m fuckin’ depressed.”


24. “Brooklyn Go Hard,” [Second Verse] Notorious Soundtrack (2009)
Brooklyn’s own gives his borough an anthem with assistance from Santigold.
Best Lines: “I father, I Brooklyn Dodger them/I jack, I rob, I sin Aww man, I'm Jackie Robinson/'Cept when I run base, I dodge the pen.”


23. On Rick Ross’s “Maybach Music,” Trilla (2008)
Jay Hova sets the bar on the inaugural installment of the Bawse’s Maybach series.
Best Lines:“Certain things that money can't buy Like being this fly/'Til then, I'm just gonna' ride!/I'm like G-Rap with better transportation.”


22. “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is…)” [Second Verse], American Gangster (2007)
Jay may have put his fans on to a new way to toast on the third verse of this celebratory single, but the God MC flexes his gift for words on the second. L’ Chaim!
Best Lines:“Take what the Forbes figured, then figure more/ Cause they forgot to account what I did with the raw/Pick a time, let's pick apart some stores/Pick a weekend for freaking for figure fours/I figure frauds never hit a lick before/So they don't know the feeling when them things get across.”


21. “Niggas In Paris,” Watch the Throne (2011)
Jigga Man balls on a higher level on this unorthodox but bouncy banger.
Best Lines: “I’m shocked too/I’m supposed to be locked up too/If you escaped what I escaped, you’d be in Paris gettin’ fucked up too.”


20. T.I.’s “Swagga Like Us,” The Paper Trail (2009)
Hov’s as boastful as ever on this star-studded, Grammy Award-winning posse cut.
Best Lines:“Gotta bop like this/Can’t wear skinny jeans ‘cause my knots don’t fit”


19. “Death of Auto-Tune” [Third Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Jay puts the final nail in another trend’s coffin.
Best Lines: “You rappers singing too much/Get back to rap, you T-Pain-ing too much/I’m a multimillionaire/So how is it I’m the hardest nigga here.”


18. “Lost One” [First Verse], Kingdom Come (2006)
Hov throws subliminal shots Dame’s way.
Best Lines: “I heard motherfuckers saying they made Hov/ Made Hov say, 'Ok so, make another Hov.'"


17. “Say Hello” [Third Verse], American Gangster (2007)
The perpetual scapegoat fires back at his critics.
Best Lines: Tell him I remove the curses/If you tell me our schools gon' be perfect/When Jena Six don't exist/Tell him that's when I'll stop sayin bitch, Beeitch!”


16. Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab (Remix),” Unreleased (2006)
Jigga spins Amy’s concept to speak on his materialistic ways.
Best Lines: “More money, more checks, I'm addicted to fresh 6 pair of kicks is my definition of 12 steps/Kick back in the back, get the phantom to drop/Bass blaring outta my system, that's how I detox.”


15. “Why I Love You [First Verse],” Watch the Throne (2011)
Hov addresses his former disgruntled Roc-A-Fella signees.
Best Lines: “Fuck you squares, the circle got smaller/ The castle got bigger, the walls got taller/And truth be told after all that said, Niggas still got love for you.”


14. J. Cole’s “Mr. Nice Watch,” Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)
The God MC flosses like only he can on his protégé’s track. It’s all in the wrist. Best Lines: “I got a Hublot, I call it Tebow, I strap that bitch with a gator band/Y'all niggas ball half-time, y'all niggas like the Gator band/Y'all niggas need a time out, who got these niggas all wound up?/Cocksucker, I'm 730, y'all know where y'all niggas gonna wind up?”


13. Kanye West’s “Monster,” My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Sure, Nicki Minaj stole the show with her schizophrenic flow, but Jay’s verse is arguably the best on the track word-for-word.
Best Lines: “All I see is these fake fucks with no fangs/Trying to draw blood from my ice cold veins/I smell a massacre/Seems to be the only way to back you bastards up.”


12. “Empire State of Mind,” [First Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Hovi gives his hometown its best anthem since Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” on the first No. 1 single of his career. He sets it all off with this iconic lead up verse.
Best Lines: “Say what up to Ty Ty, still sipping mai tais/ Sitting courtside Knicks and Nets give me high fives/Nigga I be Spiked out, I can trip a referee/Tell by my attitude that I most definitely from…”


11. “On to the Next One” [Second Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Jay touches on his departure as Def Jam’s president with a mean one-liner.
Best Lines:”Baby I'm a boss, I don't know what they do/I don't get dropped, I drop the label.”


10. “Death of the Auto-Tune” [First Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
Jay sets the tone for arguably his best post-retirement LP on this head nodding, No ID produced lead single.
Best Line: “My raps don’t have melodies/This should make jackers wanna go and commit felonies/Get your chain tooken/I may do it myself - I’m so Brooklyn!I know we facing a recession/But the music y’all making going make it the Great Depression.”


9. “Already Home” [Second Verse], The Blueprint 3 (2009)
A condescending Hov ridicules his haters on this Kid Cudi-assisted track.
Best Lines: “We not in the same bracket/ Not in the same league/Don't shoot at the same baskets/Don't pay the same taxes/ Hang with the same bitches/So how am I in the way, what is I’m missing?”


8. “No Church in the Wild,” Watch the Throne (2011)
Hov spits one of his most complex verses to date on the WTT opener.
Best Lines: “Drug dealer chic, I’m wondering if a thug’s prayers reach/Is Pious pious cause God loves pious?/Socrates asked whose bias do y'all seek?/All for Plato, screech, I’m out here balling, I know y’all hear my sneaks.”


7. Young Jeezy’s “My President (Remix),” (2008)
Jigga celebrates Barack Obama’s historic presidential win and angers Bill O’ Reilly in the process.
Best Lines: “My President is black, in fact he's half-white/ So even in a racist mind he's half right/If you have racist mind you'll be a'ight/ My President is black but his house is all white.”


6. Jay Electronica’s “Shiny Suit Theory,” Unreleased (2011)
Jay spits a verse rich in double-entendre on this highly anticipated Jay Elect collabo.
Best Lines: “Can it be the same one on covers with Warren Buffet/Was ducking the undercovers, was warring with motherfuckers?/Went from warring to Warren, undercovers to covers/If you believe in that sort of luck your screws need adjusting/In the world of no justice and black ladies on the back of buses/I'm the immaculate conception of rappers-slash-hustlers.”


5. Kanye West’s “So Appalled,” My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Hov takes a gratuitous swipe at Hammer on the second of two Watch the Throne tracks Yeezy kept for MBDTF.
Best Lines: “I'm fresher than you all, so I don't have to pause/All of y'all can suck my balls through my drawers/Dark Knight feeling, die and be a hero/Or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.”


4. Coldplay’s “Lost (Remix),” Lost Digital Single (2008)
S. Dot dissects the pros and cons of superstardom.
Best Lines: “Suicide, it's a suicide/If you succeed, prepare to be crucified/Media meddles, niggas sue you, you settle/Every step you take, they remind you you're ghetto/So it's tough being Bobby Brown/To be Bobby then, you have to be Bobby now.”


3. “New Day,” Watch the Throne (2011)
Mr. Carter pens a poignant letter to his unborn. Coincidentally, about a month later Beyoncé reveals that the power couple is expecting their first child.
Best Lines: “Took me 26 years to find my path/My only job is cut the time in half/So at 13 we’ll have our first drink together/Black bar mitzvahs, mazel tov, mogul talk.”


2. Rick Ross’s “Free Mason,” Teflon Don (2010)
Jay’s superior wordplay is front and center as he addresses persistent Illuminati rumors.
Best Lines: “Hear me clearly: if y’all niggas fear me just say y'all fear me/Fuck all these fairy tales; go to Hell This is God engineering/This is a Hail Mary pass, y’all interfering.”


1. Drake’s “Light Up,” Thank Me Later (2010)
Hov silences chatter that he’s scared to get on a track with Drake (Drizzy only appears on the hook on The Blueprint 3’s “Off That”) with this dense 32-bar verse. Add another body to the God MC’s rap sheet.
Best Lines: “I don’t do too much blogging/I just run the town, I don’t do too much jogging/Ain’t got a scar yet/Cause you fuckin’ around with me and my dogs is far-fetched.”