10 Essential Jay-Z Songs Before Magna Carta Holy Grail

Photo by Marco Torres
Ah, Independence Day. A day for celebration of pride and patriotism, and to go out back and fire up the grill with a couple of cold ones. Unfortunately, I'll have to get a raincheck on that one, because I have bigger plans this July 4th. This year I'll be settling in and spending the day with the brand new album from legendary rapper Jay-Z. You may have heard of him.

If you've heard of him, but haven't actually heard him, you've been living under a rock for the past 17 years. You've also been missing out on some of the greatest hip-hop ever made. So if this is your first experience with Hova and you want to visit the back catalogue first, here's ten to grab on iTunes before you get into Magna Carta Holy Grail.

10. "Show Me What You Got"
An underrated jam from Jay-Z's first post-retirement effort, Kingdom Come, this one features an incredible beat from Just Blaze and Hov's typical larger-than-life verses.

9. "Ignorant Shit"
Featuring another great Just Blaze beat and a great verse from longtime now-former collaborator Beanie Siegel, "Ignorant Shit" sees Jay-Z intelligently addressing his critics, especially the ones who blame him for other people's bad behavior and language. The Don Imus references are dated, but the overall message holds up today.

8. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
If "Ignorant Shit" was the more intelligent response to critics, "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" is the "fuck the haters" response, and one of the best ever at that. It became so famous, it introduced the term to the masses and became accepted parlance.

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