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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31. "Dear Summer" (2005)

Jay-Z's retirement was brief and full of wonderful interruptions like "Dear Summer," which appeared on Memphis Bleek's 534 album but did not include a verse from Bleek himself. Producer Just Blaze sets aside his trademark stadium-leveling sound to make a cooled-out beat based around a barely-tweaked excerpt from jazz-funker Weldon Irvine's "Morning Sunrise." Jay-Z originally debuted the lyrics to "Dear Summer" – a love song about the rapper's propensity for warm-weather hits – during a visit to New York's Hot 97. "The record is so crazy we was going to put it out the day after he went to radio, but Jay was like, 'Nah, chill,'" Just Blaze told MTV. "Doing that record was kinda like old times. It was nobody in the room but me, Guru [the engineer] and Jay. ... Obviously, the artist bug is still there," Just Blaze added. "It's not like he needs to do the intro to Bleek's album. When you're an artist, you're always gonna be an artist even if that's not your main job anymore."

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