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

50. "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is...)" (2007)

"Roc Boys (And the Winner Is…)" reaches back to the dazzling, horn-blasting sound of iconic Jay-Z hits like "U Don't Know." Gleaming brass lines ricochet around the track – produced by P. Diddy and the Hitmen – and Jay-Z raps about amassing vast wealth: "Let ya hair down baby, I just hit a score/Pick any place on the planet, pick a shore/Take what the Forbes figure, then figure more." One group that got to share the wealth was the Brooklyn soul outfit the Menahan Street Band, who were sampled for the track. "A record being sampled is like a needle in the haystack, and the chances of it being a hit song is even slimmer, so it was a real fortunate thing that happened to us," the group's guitarist and leader Thomas Brenneck told Life and Times. "Then being credited as a songwriter on a Jay-Z song does a lot for the songwriters. Up until then our records sold 5,000-10,000 copies; [2007 LP] American Gangster sold a million copies. It was a real boost in self-esteem."