'Excuse Me Miss'
Capturing love at first sight, Jay-Z shows his more sensitive side, admitting he's ready to settle down: "All I need is a partner/To play spades with the cards up, all trust." He's got all the ingredients for it, too -- sampling lyrics from the late R&B crooner Luther Vandross' single 'Take You Out' and featuring Pharrell's falsetto in the chorus.
'Dirt Off Your Shoulder'
'Dirt Off Your Shoulder' features one of the most recognizable laser tag-sounding backbeats, credited to Timbaland, and represents Jay-Z's view of, well, social stigma. Even President Barack Obama instilled this attitude when brushing off a brutal debate with Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic nomination. Jay-Z later paired up with Linkin Park for the collaboration album 'Collison Course,' which produced several singles -- one a mash-up of 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder' and Linkin Park's 'Lying From You.'
One of the best Jay-Z songs to get you up and moving, 'Izzo' samples the cheerful Jackson 5 classic 'I Want You Back' -- thanks to our good buddy Mr. West. Despite the song's upbeat backbeat, the lyrics reflect on Jay-Z's somber childhood memories dealing drugs and living in the projects. Off 'The Blueprint,' album, the anthem became Jay-Z's first Top 10 single as a lead artist.
'03 Bonnie & Clyde'
An updated version of 2pac's song 'Me & My Girlfriend', '03 Bonnie & Clyde' is about Jay-Z's relationship with his wife, Beyonce. Jay-Z's sampling sparked a feud between him and R&B songstress Toni Braxton, who released 'Me & My Boyfriend' -- featuring the same 2Pac sample -- just one week after Jay.
'Can I Get a ...'
'Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)'
Revealing what it was like to grow up in the projects, the title track off his third studio album seamlessly fuses smooth emcee lines with the famous Broadway showstopping track from 'Annie.' The 1998 single was the first Jay-Z song to achieve international success, reaching the Top 10 in six countries.
Featuring British R&B artist Mr. Hudson, 'Young Forever' breathes life into the '80s hit 'Forever Young' by German synthpop outfit Alphaville. Jay preserves the first verse and the chorus, staying true to the classic -- and proving that a song over 20 years old can, in fact, be "forever young."
'Empire State of Mind'
For all the songs written about the Big Apple, this has become the new anthem for the city, arguably replacing Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York.' The third single off 'The Blueprint 3,' the song features guest vocals from Alicia Keys, who performed alongside Jay-Z at Game Two of the 2009 World Series.