There's a JAY-Z Bar for Everything: Our Top 10 Picks
Music, at its best, is a reflection of our lives that also serves as a window to help us feel and think further than we can see. No artist evokes more emotion and provokes more in-depth thoughts than JAY-Z. Putting together any list is a daunting task, but compiling anything JAY-Z-related is almost unfeasible. However, like Hov, we've managed to do the impossible and composed 10 of the best JAY-Z bars to help you get through life.
"You ain’t havin’ it?/Good!/Me either!/Let’s get together and make this whole world believe us…"
"Can't Knock the Hustle" is the first song on Jay’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, and throughout it, he speaks life into every goal he has in the music industry and beyond. Not only did he accomplish everything he set out to do, but surpassed it while giving people who look like him reason to believe in their abilities to transcend where they come from without a doubt.
"Blindfolded/expected to walk a straight line/mind-molded/taught to love you and hate mine/climbed over it..."
"Dope Man" from Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter highlight the hypocrisy of the world. Rap music has been vilified and used by the powers at be to rid themselves of accountability for not addressing the root issues of poverty and violence plaguing inner cities across the country. In this song, JAY-Z compares his life in music to his life as a drug dealer while realizing unlearning is as important as learning, especially when overcoming societal expectations.
"Everybody doin' them/I'm still stretchin' on the block/like, "Damn, I'ma be a failure"/surrounded by thugs, drugs, and drug paraphernalia..."
"This Can't Be Life" from The Dynasty: Roc La Familia finds Hov recollecting his fear and frustration of where he isn't in life. No matter who you are or what you do, a pessimistic voice in your head has made you wonder about the possibility of not making it. Understanding the world we live in feeds off of bravado and ego – the reality is that most people, even the greatest, operate not despite but because of fears and insecurities.
"Birth of my first nephew/time to slow it down..."
"Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" off The Blueprint speaks to the gratitude we should all abide by in life. We're always in a rush for the next thing, but how about enjoying everything in front of us? Also, as many of us become parental figures, it's essential to understand that we should value children more than some type of karmic result. We can't fix ourselves through kids. Our best course of action is to give them the tools to make life easier for themselves.
"Remind yourself/nobody built like you/you design yourself..."
"A Dream" from The Blueprint 2 The Gift & The Curse finds Hov recollecting a conversation he had in a dream with the late great Notorious B.I.G., and it's a reminder to speak affirmations into your life. Sure, you may be part of a community, but you're one of one and should act accordingly.
"The more space I get/the better I write/oh, never I write/but if ever I write/I need the space to say whatever I like..."
"Change Clothes" from The Black Album had men in the club dressed up like they were the expecting father at a baby shower, but the song wasn't about clothes! Instead, JAY-Z uses clothes as a metaphor for being able to evolve and not being so stubborn that we block our blessings in life. So, we must allow ourselves the grace to grow and let go of things that no longer serve us as we experience more in life.
"Soak it up/it's a lesson/every f-ck up/one day you're up/next day you're down/long as you stay the same it'll come back around..."
"Sweet" from American Gangster is about finding the proverbial sweet spot in life called balance. We should never let our egos get to the point where it controls how we operate daily. Of course, this is easier said than done, but we need to do better if we know better.
"I'm different/I can't base what I'm gonna be off of what everybody isn't/they don't listen/just whispering behind my back/no vision/lack of ambition/so wack!"
"So Ambitious" from The Blueprint 3 is an example of proving naysayers wrong and proving yourself right. Imagine if the greatest rapper of all time restricted himself to a box? People project their limitations because misery loves company, but Hov's music ensures that we understand anything is possible.
"Sometimes I feel survivor's guilt/I gave money to this guy/he got high as hell/now I'm part of the problem/far as I could tell/did I do it for him or do it for myself?/Can't lie to myself..."
"Nickels & Dimes" off the much-maligned Magna Carter Holy Grail examines the duality of being human. We all have a moral compass that we abide by, but it contains a wide range of emotions and thoughts. So, it's okay to question yourself because most of life isn't black and white; it's a gray area.
"Bullets breeze by you/like Louisiana, mane..."
"What We Do" from Philadelphia Freeway, the debut album of rapper Freeway, is a layered song that teaches us art is forever open-ended. Jay could've been speaking about Louisiana Purchase, the bayous of Louisiana, Eve's Bayou – which was set in Louisiana – or he could've had a premonition of Drew Brees throwing bullets with the football when he got traded to the New Orleans Saints a few years after this song was released. Who knows? In five years, this bar could mean something completely different.
These are just ten bars, verses, and songs that we can use to guide us through life. Please, feel free to add your favorite Hov affirmation and parable for us to use.