48)Jay-Z – So Ghetto

Song: So Ghetto

Album: Vol. 3 Life And Times Of S. Carter

Year: 1999

On the heels of becoming the biggest rapper in the game (selling a supposed 5 million copies of Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life, keep in mind a bonus disc came with it so he may have only sold around 2.5 million but still that’s nothing to scoff at), Jay-Z came back with one of his more lyrical and slept on efforts with Vol. 3 The Life And Times Of S. Carter.

Whether it was by way of the rumored devious machinations of Lance “Un” Rivera or some other convoluted plot twist, the album leaked early. Early as in this wasn’t even the final product, though we got the gist of the album (“There’s Been A Murder” and “Watch Me” weren’t on the pre-release, there was a third “Hova Song” interlude, “Is That Your Bitch” wound up going to Bleek, it was originally on this leaked album with just Jay & Twista)

Me being the only New Yorker from my college crew (in Florida) my boys were like “wait until you hear this album”. When “So Ghetto” came on my discman (I’m showing my age here), I may not have ever been this amped up hearing something for the first time since. This was the epitome of not selling out and remaining faithful to your core street audience though he would proceed to leave most of the gritty edge behind him at some point between The Blueprint and The Black Album. Again, you show me a rapper who blew out of the water then went back to DJ Premier to open his album, I don’t count Biggie because he never quite crossed over into the mainstream the way Jay did with Vol. 2

The cuts on the hook were impeccable and as the song’s title suggests, he was unapologetic nearly to the point of self-parody (“We tote guns to the Grammys, pop bottles on the White House lawn”). The lyrics were there, the flow was THERE, the piano loop and Premier’s signature sound were there, this was another moment where Hov just couldn’t lose.

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