28. "So Ghetto" (1999)
By the time of 1999's "So Ghetto," producer DJ Premier had shifted from the epicenter of hip-hop's sonic "now" to a respected traditionalist. At this point a formula was cleanly in place, but relative to the R&B-echoing pop sound of Timbaland elsewhere on this album, Premier's sound vibrated with hard-edged urgency. Over a guitar loop from Ennio Morricone's Le Ruffian soundtrack, punctuated with otherworldly sound effects from kaiju monster King Ghidorah, Jay's toughness is expressed not through aggression – his performance has that unbothered reserve that sold the best material of his peak – but in the brash lyrical details: "We tote guns to the Grammys, pop bottles on the White House lawn."