Jay-Z: 50 Greatest Songs

With a rhyme career going since the late Eighties, Jay-Z's songs have been reflective, pop, confessional, hard-edged and indelible. Here are his best

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47. "Ain't No Nigga" feat. Foxy Brown (1996)

"Ain't No Nigga" might be the most shamelessly commercial track on Jay-Z's debut, Reasonable Doubt, and it's naturally the one that elevated him from Brooklyn thug poet to future pop dominance. Initially released as the B-side to "Dead Presidents," it found a national audience when the rapper's Roc-A-Fella team switched distribution from Freeze/Priority Records to Def Jam, and the latter selected it as a single for Eddie Murphy's The Nutty Professor soundtrack. Jay's verses are nice – "They say sex is a weapon/So when I shoot, meet your death in less than eight seconds," he brags. But he meets his match thanks to a riposte from a then-teenaged Foxy Brown.

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