On just rapping skills and talent, I will never waiver from believing that The Notorious B.I.G. is the greatest we will ever see. But no artists compare to Jay-Z in terms of global impact and consistently building the hip-hop culture.
In 1996 Jay-Z released one of the top 10 greatest hip-hop albums of all-time; Reasonable Doubt, and since then he has consistently evolved and remained relevant. Jay-Z has been the most significant figure in hip-hop since the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Jay-Z has been able to stay relevant longer than any artist in recent memory from growing an empire in Roc-A-Fella records, to creating a clothing line in Rocawear, to being the President of Def Jam.
Jay-Z is a work horse, he has released 15 albums in his 17 year career. But even when he takes time off he has found ways to keep his name buzzing in pop culture. I mean, name another rapper who can be hugged up with the President. He as found a way to uphold a private life while staying in a spotlight; a task that seemed impossible. My only knock on Jay-Z is him often trying to blend in with radio music as if he has forgotten that he is Jay-Z; a guy who will be forever relevant.
Jay-Z is not only a great businessman and strategist, he is also a great artist despite releasing some average and even some bad albums in his long career. Yesterday his 15th album, Magna Carta… Holy Grail, released for retail sale. I have had it since it released digitally, and I fucking love it! Jay-Z has tried to fit in with the current sounds on the radio in the past and he has failed but this time he has made music that sounds like it can fit perfectly on today’s radio but with Jay-Z’s skills sprinkled all over. He has found a way to blend in but remain Jay-Z. I have heard critics judge this album off of Jay-Z being too braggadocios but all I can do is roll my eyes at their critiques because he has literally been bragging his entire career.
“I dabbled in crazy weight, without rap, I was crazy straight. Partna, I’m still spending money from ’88” -Jay-Z “Dead President II” Reasonable Doubt
Will Jay-Z ever be irrelevant? I am sure he will retire from music one day but he will still be married to Beyonce, running a record label, a clothing line, and a sports agency. So, no. I cannot see Jay-Z ever being irrelevant.