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(2007): Hov spends two minutes firing spoken subliminal shots at Cam’ron and Jim Jones, and introducing the world to rapper Tru Life. At worst, it’s an indefensible cocktail of misogyny and respectability politics that Jay for some reason made sure to retain as a bonus cut on the abridged rerelease (1997): Ah, yes, the phase when Jay-Z was blinded by Puff Daddy’s shiny suits. Holy Grail (2013): Keep the phrase “facts only” and Lil Wayne jab, delete the rest. “Pretty Girls,” , an unprecedented duet album uniting two hip-hop and R&B giants.
The final minute features some struggle patois and one of Jay’s most throwaway of throwaway freestyles. Who decided it was a good idea to crate dig in the Waitresses’ catalogue? The project was doomed, though, once a video that allegedly shows the Chicago singer having sex with (and urinating on) an underage girl began making the rounds — Jay wisely fell back from the project like Homer Simpson sinking into a bush. Kanye’s hyperventilating synths and Run-DMC sample are ill-fitting for Hov. Carter,” (1999): From the music to the lyrics, this song feels limp.
The alternate version retains his verses, but backpedals by swapping out Sean Paul’s vocals and adding a Timbaland beat that possesses not even a sprinkle of jerk seasoning. “Stop,” (2013): Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Nas, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and Jay-Z put their heads together and came up with this tepid ode to ’80s drug-dealer paraphernalia. “They Don’t Love You No More,” Sports fans gave Jay (perhaps unwarranted) shit for the line, “Boy, you know you soft as a lacrosse team” — a perceived Drake diss — pointing out that lacrosse is indeed a full-contact sport.
The controversy seemed to be simmering down two years later (despite 14 then-pending child-pornography charges against Kelly in Chicago) and the two stars gave it another go. Kelly sings about sexing “pretty girls” from coast to coast — and specifically cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. If nothing else, the track delivers a needed response after Noel Gallagher disparaged his 2008 Glastonbury Festival headlining slot: “That bloke from Oasis said I couldn’t play guitar / Somebody shoulda told him I’m a fucking rock star.” (2004): An unnecessary revisiting of the stronger “Somebody’s Girl” from two years earlier. Kelly has been running what’s been described as an abusive and manipulative sex cult at his homes in Georgia and Illinois, according to an extensively reported Buzz Feed exposé? Aside from being a vehicle to showcase Amil, who already has two other appearances on this album, it really has no reason to exist. “Off That,” (2009): In the early 2000s, Jay-Z popularized and then killed the trend of wearing retro Mitchell & Ness jerseys in favor of another fashion fad: button-up shirts. It’s the only way to explain this silly Drake-sponsored attempt to buck some more trends — from Timberland boots to money showers at the strip club.
Still, after “that VHS tape,” the title and subject matter of this generic song should’ve raised a red flag. The following year, Kelly was actually arrested in Miami after police found 12 images of a nude, underage girl in his Florida home. (2010): A charity track in support of survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
The verses are choppy and the song is mostly bloated with soundbites from older material.
(2006): There’s some pretty harsh subliminal sniping at unnamed targets in the closing verse, but this song is probably best remembered as a hint of the impending release of “,” 11 years early. “(Always Be My) Sunshine,” (1997): Foxy Brown and Jay-Z’s glitzy follow-up to “Ain’t No Nigga” misses its mark, badly.
This bonus track is a decent addition to (2004): After canceling their first collaborative album, Jay and Kelly never came close to recapturing their magic from classics like “Fiesta (Remix),” although this horn-laden single tries its best. “Pussy,” (2002): Songs like this make you wonder what was discussed during this album’s in-studio brainstorming sessions.