50 Jay-Z Lyrics Every Hip-Hop Fan Should Know

There’s a Jay-Z lyric for every life situation. That’s a confirmed fact. The legendary rapper from Brooklyn’s Marcy Project has written his way into pop culture over a career that has spanned more than two decades. He’s made hip-hop history several times over, whether racking up the most No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 by a solo artist, becoming the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame or hip-hop’s first billionaire.

Today (Dec. 4), Jay-Z checks off another milestone: the rapper turns 50 years old. While many of his rap peers have aged in hip-hop, few have done so with such grace. And rarely has an MC been able to retain relevance at such a late stage in life—case in point, Everything Is Love, the surprise 2018 collaboration album with Beyoncé that won a Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album. His standout contribution to Meek Mill’s “What’s Free?” was one of last year’s most talked-about verses.

XXL sifted through Jay-Z’s rhymes over the years to piece together a non-definitive, non-ranked list of 50 lyrics that you should know, considering impact, recognition and poetic greatness. Happy birthday, Hov!



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