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

Load Previous

38. Jay-Z and Kanye West, "Gotta Have It" (2011)

If Watch the Throne was Jay and Kanye's attempt at tag-team rap, "Gotta Have It" is assuredly its crowning achievement. Produced by West and the Neptunes, the cut is built around three chopped-up James Brown samples and finds the rappers completing each other's sentences, butting in mid-flow if necessary. Like many tracks on the album, catchphrases and meme-worthy utterances obscure a more profound, deeper sentiment. "I wish I could give you this feeling/I'm playing on a million," Jay professes to the less fortunate, a shipwreck survivor rowing to shore knowing the lifeboat couldn't contain everyone. "Gotta Have It," like the entire album, may read as straight exuberance. But as Jay noted to the New York Times' T magazine, "It's a lot of pain and a lot of hurt and a lot of things going on beyond, beneath that."  

Back to Top