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Song Stories

“Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”

Jay-Z | 2001

Back in the early Nineties, Jay-Z’s extraordinary wordplay earned him the divinely inspired nickname Jay-Hova, a play on “Jehovah.” The Brooklyn native eventually toned it down to Hova and then Hov before the 2001 release of his Grammy-nominated sixth album, The Blueprint. The album “was like going back to my roots, to how I grew up,” Hova told Rolling Stone. True to his words, "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," traces Jay-Z’s drug-dealing days and his emergence in the rap scene, with a chorus that uses izzle-lingo to spell out his adopted moniker. The chart-topping single, which samples the Jackson 5’s "I Want You Back," was also the first major hit that Jay-Z had with a then-unknown budding producer from Chicago named Kanye West.

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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