DJ Khaled has had his fair share of stay on ROTW, the last time being thanks to his Beyonce and Jay Z featured jam ‘Shinning’.
This iconic producer is said to have gone as far as relocating to New York just to try and bag himself a Jay Z Beyonce collabo and seeing as how ‘Shining’ was ridiculously successful, it makes sense that he thought to record and release yet another single with the power couple, a single we now know as ‘Top Off’.
The joint single also features Trap Music king Future and while we may still be holding it in comparison with ‘Shining’, ‘Top Off’ is its own banger with notable verses from all three acts including Beyonce who channels her inner rapper and shows out with lyrics like;
I’m the only lady here, still the realest nigga in the room I break the internet, top two and I ain’t number two My body, my ice, my cash, all real, I’m a triple threat Fuck it up and then leave, come back, fuck it up and leave again
‘Top Off’ took over ROTW from Post Malone’s second stay at that spot and is currently enjoying world-wide airplay.
Today we celebrate the veterans of the Hip Hop game and no better years to recall than the 90s. Various rappers brought us the best rap songs of all time and their music influenced and ushered in a new generation of rappers.
Let’s take a look at 5 best rappers of the 90s:
It’s impossible to mention 90s rappers without Tupac Shakur making the list. Despite his death back in 1996, Tupac has remained to be one of the most influential rappers in history. He rapped about everything that mattered to him from gang wars to civil rights and drug addiction but most importantly, he was a remarkable storyteller – something that few rappers to date have been able to live up to.
Biggie is also referred (by some) to as one of the greatest rappers of all time. In between drug dealing and trying to support his family, Biggie released a sprawling masterpiece Ready to Die in 1994. Few years later, he dropped a double album Life After Death, consisting of sprawling, diverse, incredibly ambitious collection of songs that took us a while to digest. His lyrical talent, complex rhyme schemes and uncompromising flow is what made his music so great.
If you ask me, Snoop is one of the coolest rappers of his time. His run kicked off with his 1993 album Doggystyle that was masterminded by Dr. Dre. His instantly recognizable voice that is supplemented with a flow so smooth is what made his music so dope in the 90s. Some of his most memorable tracks include: “Drop It Like It’s Hot” ft Pharrell, “Whats My Name?” and “Still a G Thang”.
Jay- Z is one of the few 90s rappers who hasn’t fizzled out despite his retirement. He started his remarkable run with the 1996 release of Reasonable Doubt. His mafioso rap blueprint brought a different kind of energy to the game. His charisma, wit, and skillful wordplay quickly pushed him to the top with albums like In My Lifetime, that went platinum, Hard Knock Life and Life and times of S. Carter 1999 that was certified 3x platinum.
Nas started off Illmatic , an album that is arguably the most influential record in rap history and it was just the beginning. His second album It Was Written, became Nas’ most commercially successful album. He sold millions of records and maintained his fan base thoughout the 90s.
Swizz Beats and Timbaland are two of music’s biggest producers which is why their epic music battle will most likely be one for the books.
These two beat maestros started a hash tag, #imwiththesmoke on instagram, using it as part of captions to their back and forth videos in which they show off their production skills.
Kicked off by Swizz Beats, the two have now even sparked conversation among music icons like Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Jadakiss and Styles P, with these heavy weight rappers each weighing in on the battle whose date is yet to be set.
Without picking their favorite, check out their comments.
“That’s two top tier ni***s going at it. That’s what the game need. The game needs that. Y’all two ni***s are like two of the illest ni***s so … y’all both my brothers, so I just want to watch it go down.”
“This is my generation. Being a student of rap, when I first started rhyming, what I used to do was check the fucking credits. This is something I don’t know if the kids are doing, but I’m going to explain it to you. Checking the credits is how I know I want to work with Swizz Beatz one day. I remember my favorite fucking beats, checking the credits, would say Swizz on it.”
“It’s going to be a tight one. It’s going to be a good one. We’ve got confidence in Swizz. Timbaland got a load of hits. I want to see it, it should be interesting.”
Styles P said;
“A lot of my favorite Timbaland joints are Justin Timberlake joints and kind of more pop joints,” he said. “I love both of them, they both make great R&B, they both make great hip-hop, they both make great pop and it’ll be great for the culture. Timbaland’s fam but Swizz is immediate fam, so love is love. We’re just interested to see [the battle].”
As entertaining as their videos on IG have been, there has been speculation about whether the battle may have actually been inspired by a real life beef, but Timbaland made sure to clear that up by posting that there is absolutely no beef between he and Swizz.
His post read;
A lot of people misunderstand what a competitive battle is. It’s not about destruction. It’s about 2 competitors with mutual respect and love, battling to bring the best out of each other. To elevate the art to a place where it couldn’t have gone on it’s own. To its plateau. I love Swizz and respect him just as much. But best believe that we are both going to come hard at each other and bring out the best of ourselves… It’s all about the music… It’s all about art… It’s all about the culture… It’s bigger then us. If we’re not going to change and elevate, then what’s the point?? #imwiththesmoke@therealswizzz
Swizz Beats is famous for producing hits such as ‘On To The Next One’ by Jay Z (Off of his The Blueprint 3 album) and Timabaland is known for producing Keri Hilson’s ‘The Way I Are’.
Follow their very enticing back and forth on their respective instagram pages.
The rap legend JAY-Z’s latest album, “4:44”, was released exclusively on TIDAL a few days ago to positive reviews from critics. Neil McCormik of The Telegraph gave it a full score, saying: “It’s a highly personal work bravely opening up the artist’s very human flaws as an example to others, locating in his own suffering a path towards forgiveness, redemption and, ultimately, a better world. There is little braver than admitting your mistakes and trying to change your ways. By embracing vulnerability, JAY-Z has taken a step towards genuine wisdom.”
The album is one of, if not JAY-Z’s most personal, on the project he opens himself multiple times, discussing family, personal issues, ego, and race multiple times through. The theme of the album seems to be about Hov’s legacy, how he will be remembered not just in the rap game but as a whole after his time is up. The 11 track album is his 14th studio album, his first since 2013’s “Magna Carta”, and delves deeply into his personal life. So what did Hov address in his album?
Apology to Beyonce & Meaning of 4:44
The fifth song in the album “4:44”, Is an apology to his wife Beyonce, for being unfaithful. In the song, Jay pours out his honest and true feelings and isn’t afraid to reveal his vulnerability, something seldom seen with fellow hip hop artists.
Look, I apologize, often womanize
Took for my child to be born
See through a woman’s eyes
Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles
Took me too long for this song
I don’t deserve you
His apology confirms the speculation that he had cheated, based on lyrics on Beyonce’s last album, “Lemonade”.
4:44 was written by JAY-Z when he woke up one morning at 4:44 AM, called up his engineer and recorded on Beyonce’s personal microphone. The song covers HOVs personal life, covering his relationship, being a father and how he affects his kids. JAY himself has called the song special, and “one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
“Killing” Jay Z
The first track on the album titled, “Kill Jay Z”, comes out guns blazing talking about ego, with Jay himself describing the song as a “killing of his ego”. Jigga brings up many of his troubles from the past and criticises himself for how he handled them. He goes on to throw shade at Kanye West, referring how he gave Ye 20 million dollars in advance (for his TIDAL contract), only for Kanye to turn around and start trashing him on stage during his 2016 breakdown.
You walkin’ around like you invincible
You dropped outta school, you lost your principles
I know people backstab you, I felt bad too
But this ‘f*ck everybody’ attitude ain’t natural
But you ain’t a saint, this ain’t KumbaYE
But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye
You gave him 20 million without blinkin’
He gave you 20 minutes on stage, f*ck was he thinkin’?
“F*ck wrong with everybody?” is what you sayin’
But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane
The friends met after the incident and have since reconciled (although Kanye has been trying to leave JAY-Z’s TIDAL recently, claiming breach of contract), but it’s not like JAY-Z wouldn’t address the drama between the two in a song.
The stylization of the title of the song “Kill JAY Z”, is interesting, with JAY-Z recently changing his name from Jay Z to JAY-Z. The song being the intro, it signifies that this album comes from an entirely new persona and perspective that is represented by his new name.
The 36-minute album address other challenges and shortcomings he has faced over the years, including some slightly embarrassing situations, such as the notorious elevator scuffle between his wife’s sister Solange in 2014 and himself, stating:
Let go your ego over your right shoulder
Your left is sayin’, “Finish your breakfast!”
You egged Solange on
Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong
The third longest track on the album, “Smile” features an outro with Shawn’s (JAY-Z) mother, Gloria Carter. Jay looks back at all the bad memories and how they led him to change for the better. On the first verse, Jay mentions publicly for the first time his mother’s sexuality and how she had to ‘act’ straight, having 3 kids and marrying her husband. In the song, he raps:
Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian
Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate
Society shame and the pain was too much to take
Cried tears of joy when you fell in love
Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her
The last song, “Legacy”, discusses the legacy of his family and his family name, Carter. It is directed from his point of view, as he explains to his daughter Blue Ivy in a verbal will, the members of the family, what they have done in the family name and how Jay has worked hard to get where he was.
Although “4:44’ takes a slightly different route than his past albums, speaking about himself and his loved ones, it still has many of the themes that we’ve come to love and expect from Jigga. Themes like black empowerment and of course flexing if you got it (he denounced the “money phone” trend though) can be found on the album.
At the moment the album is only available on TIDAL
Fans of HOV rejoice, because it looks like the rumours were true, JAY-Z will be releasing his 14th studio album on June 30, titled: “4:44”, exclusively on his music streaming platform TIDAL less than two weeks from now. It will be his first solo album after “Magna Carta Holy Grail” was released in 2013, 4 years ago. The album also could be a film project similar to Beyoncé’s “LEMONADE” visual album released last year.
After being inducted into the songwriters hall of fame on June 15, speculation that the rapper was working on new music started to build, along with theories about strange advertisements popping up in New York City and on various music websites saying: “4:44”. It was during game 3 of the NBA finals, when a commercial featuring actors Mahershala Ali, Danny Glover and Lupita Nyong’o revealed that the project would be hosted on TIDAL and mobile provider Sprint, with hints that the video could be part of a music video or alternatively, the song and video could be part of a entirely Visual Album.
You can view the video, titled “Adnis” after his father, HERE
In the short promo, we can hear Jigga getting personal, talking about a letter he wrote to his late father who abandoned the family when Jay was only 11, opening with:
Letter to my dad that I never wrote Speeches I prepared that I never spoke Words on a paper that I never read Prose is never pen, they stayed in my head
The album is produced entirely by No I.D., who is known for production on hit songs like “Heartless”, “Run This Town” and “Holy Grail”. From HOV’s lines on the trailer, it’s possible that this album might take a more personal and emotional theme compared to his other releases.
In addition to the announcement, JAY-Z’s name is now all caps and he has brought back the hyphen to his name after retiring it in 2013, now changing from Jay Z to JAY-Z in a purely cosmetic way (I’m just hoping this doesn’t mess up my music library).
Although the 30 second promo was vague and didn’t mention the reason for the name, it didn’t stop the internet from going wild with theories about what “4:44” meant. A popular theory floating around brings to light the deep but coincidental meaning of the number 4 in HOV’s life, his birthday is on December 4, his wife Beyoncé was born on September 4, and their marriage was on April 4. Although this could be just a crazy theory, we’ll find out the true meaning of the album’s title in just a few days.
Just when you thought Mr. Shawn Corey Carter aka Jay Z had reached the pinnacle of his career, this happens.
Jay is the first ever Hip Hop artist to be inducted into the Song Writers Hall of Fame.
He did not hold back from thanking various artistes on a real long thread of Twitter posts, who he says have had influence over his work.
Also making the cut is Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, R&B producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Top 40 maestro Max Martin and the band Chicago’s songwriters Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera.
They join past inductees including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gay.
Many have come out to congratulate the Brooklyn rapper including former US President Barack Obama “Mr. Carter and I understand each other: Nobody who met us as younger men would have expected us to be where we are today,” Mr. Obama said in the clip, calling Jay Z “a true American original” and thanking him for “making me want to be active in my retirement, as you have been in yours.”
Tidal has launched a commemorative page featuring quotes paying tribute to Jay Z from hip-hop legends like Chuck D, Rakim, Posdnuos, Nicki Minaj, Chance The Rapper, Pharrell and many more.
Nominees are considered for induction if they have been writing hits for at least 20 years. Jay Z released his classic debut album, “Reasonable Doubt,” in 1996.
During a live beat battle between Swizz Beats and Just Blaze, Swizz pulled out the heater and dropped a previously unreleased track that features Jay Z, Nas, Jadakiss, and DMX.
Nas breaks out the track reminding us that Escobar season is back. Jay Z comes correct with his bars, “Jumping off boats, hopping off another cliff/Every six months, I think I need a new bucket list.”
Jadakiss and DMX tie the track up but their lines are not to be overlooked just because they are stepping up after Esco and Hov. “Life’s a bitch, but you can’t snuff her/Loyalty is something that you can’t get enough of,” Jadakiss raps.
Whether the song will get an official release date remains unclear. For now, catch a snippet of the unreleased cut.
“I’m far from being God, but I work god damn hard.”
Back in October, the Songwriters Hall of Fame announced their 2017 nominees. Along with legendary pop hitmakers like Berry Gordy and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Jay Z became the first rapper ever to be nominated for the hall and now it appears he’ll be inducted.
S/o to my OGs, Jay Z and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who were elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame today. I hope to one day make it there.
Yesterday, the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees were announced, and they have now confirmed that Jay Z has become the first rapper to ever receive the honor. Said SHOF co-chairs Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and President Linda Moran:
“With our 2017 roster of inductees, the Songwriters Hall of Fame moves definitively into recognizing music creators of the 21st century while continuing to honor the greats of earlier decades. The combination of contemporary sounds and timeless hits of the past is certain to make for an unforgettable evening. The songwriters we honor cross genres, regional and even national boundaries – R & B, Rap, Pop and Rock & Roll from both coasts, the American heartland and Sweden. We are thrilled to once more have the opportunity to preside over an event that recognizes the convergence of song craft and musical performance at the very highest level.”
The hip-hop mogul joins Max Martin, Robert Lamm, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, James Pankow & Peter Cetera, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Chicago for this year’s inductees. The Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony takes place in New York City on June 15.
By the way, this is a win for US. I remember when rap was said to be a fad . We are now alongside some of the greatest writers in history.