Sunday, 17 February 2013

Whatever Happened To RnB? - The 5 Best Jay-Z Guest Raps

Remember when Toni Braxton was still making music and the Whitney/Mariah rivalry was big news? In this weekly feature, I take a look back at some of the best RnB artists of yesteryear, sharing their signature videos and underrated hits, as well as looking at what they’re up to nowadays. Previous posts have focussed on classic Mary J.Blige album My Life, Destiny's Childs debut single No, No, No and their live comeback appearance at the Superbowl Halftime Show this year, as well as the top 5 RnB covers by Youtube sensation VanJess.

This week I was inspired by the new promo for Justin Timberlake's comeback hit 'Suit and Tie'. The David Fincher directed video is a classy affair which shows a more mature Justin perform rat-pack style to an intimate crowd. As if that wasn't sophisticated enough, hip-hop legend Jay-Z makes a smooth appearance with one of his finest guest raps in some time. Mr Carter has lent his trademark verses to a number of RnB acts over the years and while some appearances have been more memorable than others, its hard to deny the superstar impact that a quality Hova verse can have on a track. With that in mind, let's count down the top 5 best Jay-Z guest raps from a career that has spanned almost twenty years in the business. First though, check out the legend in Justin Timberlake's new song 'Suit and Tie'.

"All black at the light shows, white shoes at the black shows. Green card for the Cuban links, y'all sit back and enjoy the light show."

5. I'll Be - Foxy Brown

At number five, we have an early guest appearance from Jay-Z on one of Foxy Brown's first hits, 'I'll Be' back in 1996. Even from this far back in his career, Hova was already making a significant mark on the industry and this is a great example of a younger Jay-Z doing what he does best. The two rappers compliment each other perfectly on what is my favourite Foxy Brown single to date.  

"Will tears fall to your ears if I don't stop? Can ya throw it like a quarterback, third in the lot?"

4. Rihanna - Umbrella

What else can I say about this song that hasn't already been said? 'Umbrella' single handedly created a superstar out of Rihanna and this was due in large part to mentor Jay-Z ,who signed her back at the beginning of her career. This monster hit became not only the biggest song of 2007 but also one of the biggest RnB tracks in years and to this day, I am still in love with it. I'm not entirely sure what Hova's rap is actually about though yet its impossible to imagine 'Umbrella' without his classic intro.   

"Jay, Rain Man is back with Little Ms Sunshine. Rihanna where you at?"
3. Kanye West - Monster

I'm just going to go right out and say it. 'Monster' is my favourite hip-hop track of all time. I know, that's a ridiculous thing to say but if I was forced to choose one favourite hip-hop song then it would have to be this single from Kanye West's critically adored album 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'. This freaky track brings together a variety of personalities to create a deeply disturbing yet innovative sound which features not only a career best rap from Nicki Minaj but also one of Jay-Z's best guest appearances in years. If you haven't heard this underrated single before then check it out below but be forewarned; the lyrics and its accompanying promo are explicit and disturbing to say the least.

"Everybody want to know what my Achilles heel is? Love, I don't get enough of it. All I get is these vampires and bloodsuckers."

2. Beyonce - Crazy In Love

I know what you're thinking. "How did 'Crazy In Love' miss the number one spot?" Sure it's a modern classic and I love it but there's just one guest appearance that I love even more. Saying that though, 'Crazy In Love' was the first of many incredible collaborations between the future husband and wife and it cannot be denied that Mr and Mrs Carter sound incredible together on this single. And seriously, who among us didn't love rapping the word "chinchilla" alongside Jay-Z?  

"A genuine article, I do not sing though. I sling though, if anything I bling yo."

1. Mariah Carey - Heartbreaker

It's hard to imagine now but back in the late 90s, it was unusual to hear a rapper contribute a guest verse to an RnB single. 'Heartbreaker' was one of the first collaborations of this type to make it big and for me, it's still the one to beat. Jay-Z's swagger provides the perfect counterpoint to Mariah's sweet vocal and I love seeing the two artists perform together in the Brett Ratner directed promo. This was the first rap that I learnt every word to and even now the verses just roll off the tongue for me. You might not agree with its place at number one but you have to admit that 'Heartbreaker' is a great showcase for Jay-Z at his best. Click below and sing along to one of my favourite RnB tracks of all time.  

"But she know she love Jay because, she love everything Jay say Jay does."

So what do you think of my choices? Did all your favourite guest raps from Jay-Z make it or did I leave some classic appearances off the list? And do you like Hova's latest rap on Timberlake's comeback hit? Let me know by commenting, liking and sharing below.

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