Jigga, Hov, Hova, Shawn Carter these different monikers are synonymous with the legend of rap, the G.O.A.T, the first Hip Hop billionaire and Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z. He “arrived on the day Fred Hampton died” on Dec. 4, 1969. Today marks Jay’s 50th Birthday —insert birthday cake and party balloons emoji.

Jay-Z broke into music when he was 27 with his first album “Reasonable Doubt,” a classic that was released 23 years ago. Since then Jay-Z has continued to break barriers and create music that has evolved as much as he has. Since his first album in 1996, Hov has released 13 studio albums, five collaborative albums, two live albums and one soundtrack. The former drug dealer turned family man has a discography that is filled with songs that people from across the globe and of all ages can relate to.

Since the 50th birthday is one of life’s greatest milestones, it’s only right to commemorate the moment with a list of my top five Jay-Z songs of the decade. This was a difficult decision, but choices had to be made.

  1. “Ni**as In Paris” (2011) - The “Watch the Throne” album was a colossal cultural moment. Kanye West and Jay-Z came together to create the ultimate rap group, The Throne, at the peak of their career. It was unheard of at the time, now it’s a trend. Every rapper is creating a joint album. (Remember the Future and Drake album?) There is nothing like being in a crowd of people when this song turns on. An instant mosh pit forms. It also goes hard at karaoke.
  2. “Bam” (2017) - The “444” album was different from a typical Jay-Z album in that it was a moment of revelation. He addressed topics like his mother’s sexual preferences and infidelity in his marriage. The album was a masterpiece. This song was the one song that had the essence of the Jay-Z we are used too. I love cocky Jay-Z and this song does not disappoint. I also loved the fresh take on the classic Caribbean bop, “Bom Bom” by Sister Nancy. Special thanks to Beyoncé for pushing Jay-Z to actually write the song. According to producer No I.D., Jay was sitting on the beat until Beyoncé threatened to take it if he did not use it.
  3. “Beach is Better” (2013)- “Girl why you never ready for as long as it takes you better look like Halle Berry...or Beyoncé.” This song is one of the shortest songs featured on the “Magna Carter Holy Grail” album. I remember complaining about how short it is because it’s so good. As soon as you get into the groove of the song, it’s over. Jay said in an interview that it was supposed to be reminiscent of a vacation and how it ends too quickly. Still, I love that when he performs the song live, he does it twice.
  4. “Part II (On the Run)” (2013)- It’s only right that this song is on the list. One of the first songs I fell in love with was “03 Bonnie & Clyde” it was the beginning of Beyoncé and Jay’s music collaboration and start of dating rumors—which we now know were not rumors. It is part two to the iconic “03 Bonnie & Clyde” and its flowy but knocking beat makes you feel like you are floating down the highway while they are running away to forever. It’s the perfect ending to their Bonnie & Clyde romance.
  5. “Crown” (2013) - Do you ever image what power would feel like? Or sounds like? Pure power, the knowledge that no matter what, you can do anything. That is “Crown.” The bass and the beat enter into your ears and down to your bones, making you feel powerful. I am usually one that listens to the deeper meanings behind the lyrics. But this song is my expectation, this is my go-to for the feeling. “You in the presence of a God.”