XXL Presents... Jay-Z's Eight Best Scene-Stealing Verses
Jay-Z’s done it again. Last night, Rick Ross unveiled, “3 Kings,” his highly anticipated collaboration with Dr. Dre and Hov. The track was met with mixed reviews, but one thing is unanimous: Jay-Z has the best verse on the song. It doesn’t mark the first time Jigga’s bested Rozay on his own track. “Maybach Music” and “Free Mason” stand as some of Jay’s best rhymes in recent years. Ross isn’t alone. The God MC’s expected to catch bodies on any given guest spot. Here, XXL looks back at Hov’s Eight Best Scene-Stealing Verses. And… Jay-Z murdered you on your own shit! — XXL Staff (@XXL)
8. "3 Kings," Rick Ross's God Forgives, I Don't (2012)
It not only gets lonely at the top, but, apparently, it’s boring up there, too. Sure, Jay’s shared the throne with ‘Ye, though that’s not nearly as fun, it seems, as taunting those who aren’t there. Bragging about his lady’s money to put Wayne in his place (again) was fun, yet on this Rozay and Doc Dre collaboration, Hov takes it up another notch by toting out baby Blue Ivey to embarrass the competition. “Niggas couldn’t fuck with my daughter’s room,” Jay spits. Ouch. “Niggas couldn’t walk in my daughter’s socks,” he adds. Cringe. Keeping up with the Carters.
7. "Maybach Music," Rick Ross's Trilla (2008)
The Maybach is a symbol of affluence and success. Over J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League’s soulful rendition of “And I Love Him,” this record sparked the beginning of Ricky Rozay's newfound role as a modern-day Mafioso rap character. But standing next to Jigga, who’s been at the forefront of displaying smooth bravado for years, Rawse’s then shades weren’t seeing the same vision that Jay’s “millionaire lenses” saw.
6. "Money Ain't a Thang," Jermaine Dupri's Life in 1472
The beat knocks, the video flaunts, and the song’s flashing of wealth is rap hubris at its finest. While it’s a single off Jermaine Dupri’s solo debut Life in 1472, Jay-Z, who utters vivid details like “The chain’ll strain ya eye, twin platinum gun son, aim for the sky. Ice on my bullet, you die soon as I pull it,” or “I been spending hundreds since they had small faces,” sadly (and quite clearly) murks JD on his own record. Not saying JD didn’t come correctly with his verse, but Jay-Z’s varsity compared to JD’s J.V. Jay just made the song his. No, really. He later re-purposed it for his Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life.
5. "Watch What You Say to Me," T.I.'s T.I. Vs. T.I.P. (2007)
Jay-Z and Lil Wayne has had an uneasy co-existence, to say the least. The younger Carter went after the top spot in hip-hop with aplomb once Hov hung up his mic. A move Jay-Z had to admire, himself having ascended past Nas through sheer will in the post Biggie/2Pac era. However, when Hov wanted back in, Weezy wasn’t keen on letting go of his self-appointed title of “Best Rapper Alive.” A newly diplomatic President Carter let a few scattered shots by Weezy fly before he used this guest spot on Tip’s track like a bully pulpit: “You talking to the author, the architect of The Blueprint/My DNA all in your music.” Lesson: respect your elders.
4. "Mr. Nice Watch," J. Cole's Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)
Cole’s hashtag bars, and self-affirmation of changing his lifestyle from humble to cocky deserve to be applauded. But as far as a verse goes? Jay’s ridicule of his enemies with unexpected references (“I got a Hublot, I call it Tebow, I strap that bitch with a gator band, y’all niggas ball halftime, y’all niggas like the Gator band”), and showcasing the epitome of flossing while still having his other foot in the streets (“Y’all niggas better now call the law, get no blood on my Audemars”) are undeniable. Sorry, Cole.
3. “Dear Summer,” Memphis Bleek’s 534 (2005)
2. "Free Mason," Rick Ross's Teflon Don (2010)
“Bitch, I said I was amazing/Not that I’m a Mason,” Jay spits dismissively on “Free Mason.” After years of online chatter over the Roc Diamond gesture, Hov’s biz dealings and his lyrics, among other things, the leader of the R-O-C, usually above such rumor mongering, decided—with a Chris Paul-like assist from Rozay, who instantly ceded the spotlight here—to address the Illuminati membership claims against him once and for all and in brilliant fashion. Mixing scripture with the usual dose of Jay-Z braggadocio, the Brooklyn wordsmith boiled down the essence of the accusation in one succinct line: “I’m a bad muthafucka, it’s Hov, just say you love it.”
1. “Light Up,” Drake’s Thank Me Later (2010)