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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48. Jay-Z and T.I. feat. Lil Wayne, Kanye West, "Swagga Like Us"

"It was a song that Kanye and I had done first; me featuring Kanye," T.I. told MTV. "An idea had presented itself: 'What if we included these people and made it an event record?' I was like, 'That's a very ambitious idea, but a lovely one.'" In 2008, "Swagga Like Us" represented a summit of rappers – T.I., Lil Wayne and Kanye West – all in the middle of remarkable stretches of hit-making, joining forces with Jay-Z, who had helped to clear the way for their pop crossover success with his own hot streak in the late Nineties and early 2000s. Each MC takes turns rapping as a blithe sample of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" cycles through the background. Jay-Z sounds at ease, unruffled by the star power of his collaborators and casually dismissive of everyone else. "Can't teach you my swag," he raps. "You can pay for school, but you can't buy class."

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