Anyone who knows me know that I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the musical catalogue of Sean ‘Jay-Z’ Carter. I’m ashamed to admit it – but I probably quote Jay-Z lyrics more than I quote the bible. I’m the type of Jay-Z fan who’s never read the second half of Decoded because after reading the first half I realized I wasn’t learning anything new and could probably write the rest myself. There was a time when being this kind of Jay-Z fan put you in rare company, but over the last half decade, it seems being a Hov scholar has gone from niche to not-so-rare. And with the knowledge of Jay’s greatness becoming more and more an accepted fact of life, the typical sort of debates keep popping up. We always see lists like “50 Best Jay-Z songs of all time,” “10 Best Jay-Z verses of All-Time,” “Ranking Jay-Z’s from Best to Worst.” Those are all cool… but anybody can create those. Today I want to start a discussion around the 10 Best Jay-Z features of all-time.

The parameters of this list are pretty simple:

1) Jay-Z cannot be the primary artist on the song.
2) The song cannot have appeared on a Jay-Z album.

Ok … Let’s get started:

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10. Young G’s — Puff Daddy — No Way Out

This is probably the most #FakeGreat Jay-Z verse of all time… but, as a feature, it still knocks. The level of expectation around this song was tremendous. It was Badboy’s first major release since BIG’s death and Diddy’s first semi-solo project. When you picked up  the No Way Out CD from your local record store, flipped it over to the back with the track listing and saw a song called Young G’s that featured BIG and Jay… you were hyped. And while Jay sorta delivered with his typically impeccable flow and not so typical serious tone, I’d be lying if I said I was at least a little disappointed by this joint. Still.. it goes hard so it makes the list.

Key Quotable:

“And I told my n*gga BIG I’d be multi before I die. It’s gon happen whether rappin or clappin have it your way cuz if that’s my dough you’re trappin, I’m clappin your way.”

9. 4 Da Fam — Amil — All Money Is Legal

Can’t tell y’all how much time I spent trying to explain to my (at the time) non-believer friends what Jay meant when he parralled the classic 80’s television show Dynasty against one of history’s greatest real-world dynasties The Ming, as a means of showing us all the difference between how he thinks, and how we think. This song was one of those moments where Jay really anchors a song and takes something that would have otherwise been a throwaway and turns it into something that can stay on your all-time playlist.

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Key Quotable:

“Y’all n*ggas truly ain’t ready for this dynasty thing, y’all thinking Black Carrington, I’m thinking more like Ming.”