Since I haven't put together a pick ten in a while, I knew exactly what I would do for this one. In honor of Jay Z's 52nd Birthday, I am using this week's article to pay homage to his huge influence on music, popular, American and Black culture.
This was on my mind because, not only is it Sean Carter's birthday, but he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame a week ago, along with Tina Turner, LL Cool J, The Go-Gos, Foo Fighters, and Clarence Avant (to name a few).
His induction began with a message from Barack Obama, the former president of the United States. It was followed by a montage of his lyrics recited by notable celebrities, including: Pharrell, Rihanna, Diddy, Regina King, MC Lyte, Ed Sheeran, Naomi Campbell, Trevor Noah, Lebron James, Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, and even the queen herself, Blue Ivy. As if that wasn't enough, Dave Chapelle delivered an induction speech that was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It embodied the true essence of what Jay-Z means to our community. I will put it below for anyone who hasn't seen it or would like to see it again.
Hov then enters the stage to accept his award! If I'm not mistaken, this was the first time I've ever heard Jay Z accept an award with such candor about his career/experiences, for that long, outside of his music. It was like ten minutes of Hov! Knowing his story and seeing him achieve such great success, especially as a Black man, in Hip-Hop, from the hood, is truly amazing. I actually think he’s the first living solo rapper inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame; alongside LL Cool J (another legend who we’ve had the honor of watching expand and grow into a husband, father, and all-around cultural trailblazer). I smiled at the sight of him gleaming and filled with joy on that stage. He went from ushering Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five into the Hall of Fame in 2007, to being ushered in by close friends and loved ones (mother included) in 2021. What a blessing.
...and not to deviate from the pick ten, but it is not his music or business endeavors that most impress me. The thing I love most about Mr. Sean Carter, especially since I'm considered a public figure myself, is the way he acknowledges that he's not without flaws, but is still able to open up his life to us as it unfolds, while still maintaining his privacy, dignity, and sacrosanctity. He keeps the main thing, the main thing and we've all benefited from him doing so.
But back to business. Since there were so many angles I could have taken with this pick ten, I didn't know how to approach it. Then I decided to pick the most difficult task; which was to select ten of my favorite Jay-Z records. The easy route would have been, choosing ten of my favorite Beyonce and Jay-Z pictures.
So here goes. These are in no particular order!
Feel free to share the 10 you'd choose in the comments! It's definitely worth checking out Jay-Z's music if you haven't heard it before, you'll be blown away by the artistry.
Featured artist: Mary J. Blige
Album: In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
Album: The Black Album
I hyperlinked the Linkin Park version, because that was such a phenomenal performance!
Featured artist: Chrisette Michelle
Album: Kingdom Come
Featured artist: Rihanna, Kanye West
Album: The Blueprint 3.
Featured artist: Gloria Carter
It was so hard not to choose songs just because they talk to the ladies: Change Clothes, Excuse Me Miss, '03 Bonnie & Clyde, Part II (On the Run). I had to rethink the entire selection process and keep asking myself, "If you had a blank cd and could only put ten Jay-Z songs on it, what would you choose?
This is where I landed. My listening habits have changed over the years. I listen to less of his music since I have been heavy into Pop and R&B, but you better believe that if he announces a new album or concert tomorrow. . .I WILL BE THERE.
After doing this exercise, I can confidently say, Jay-Z's catalogue is impeccable; pure gold. To have thirteen studio albums (excluding the collaboration albums) with music that has aged so well, is TALENT!
So to that, I say, Thank you Mr. Carter. Happy Birthday! It is an honor and a privilege to watch you age into greater. I wish you nothing but health, joy, safety, and continued success.