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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49. Jay-Z and Linkin Park, "Numb/Encore" (2004)

Jay-Z was hip-hop's Grateful Dead – despite having "retired," he couldn't bear saying goodbye to the game. In 2003, Jay and Linkin Park capitalized off the burgeoning MP3 "mashup" culture with an MTV special, followed by the six-song EP Collision Course. What could have been an empty cash grab ended up feeling sincere. Lone single "Numb/Encore" especially captured everyone's delight over how well their music actually fit together. "I'm not trying to be you, you're not trying to be. There's fusion and just whatever happens, happens. I love that," Jay said to Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington on MTV. Since Bennington's death in July, Jay has performed "Numb/Encore" several times in tribute, turning the single into a bittersweet farewell.

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