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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29. Jay-Z and Kanye West, "New Day" (2011)

For Watch the Throne, an album teeming with unabashed bravado, "New Day" is jarring in its sentimentality. Over an Auto-Tuned sample of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" and a laid-back beat by the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, both Jay and Kanye address their unborn children. For both men, it was entirely speculative: Jay wouldn't become a father to Blue Ivy until the following year, but his pain and promise to never abandon his child, as his own father did when he was 11, finds him uncharacteristically vulnerable. "Promise to never leave him, even if his mama tweakin'/'Cause my dad left me and I promise to never repeat him/Never repeat him/Never repeat him." Parenting, Jay later told GQ, is one of life's great challenges that material wealth could never resolve. "Providing – that's not love," Jay said. "Being there – that's more important. We see that with all these rich socialites. They're crying out for attention; they're hurting for love." 

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