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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16. "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" (2000)

"I [had] 'Parking Lot [Pimpin']' up and running [as the first single]," Jay-Z told MTV in 2000. "I was all ready to go with it but the next day I made this song and it was just the vibe. The vibe of everyone in the studio ... the immediate reaction, people were singing it by the time the second hook came on." With Pharrell operating as a Curtis Mayfield for a hip-hop era of radio dominance, "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" was a brighter, cheerier Jay than the rapper was previously known for – and became his biggest pop hit to that point. The Neptunes production had a slick bounce, its scraping percussion, skipping bass and trademark guitar accents a spare, understated canvas for Jay's in-the-moment lyrics of partying in a carefree context, singing along to Carl Thomas at karaoke and indulging in a new world of appreciation for designer labels – all helping usher in a new kind of jet-setting lifestyle music.

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