If somebody told me ten years ago that Jay-Z would become one of my favorite artists of all time, I would of scoffed. I did appreciate his music in the early 2000s but there was no way for me to possibly anticipate the way in which I have fallen in love with him and his music over the past decade.
I did have the opportunity to meet Mr. Shawn Carter a few times, all of these experiences were exceptionally pleasant. Being a genuinely good and respectful individual is apart of the overall criteria when I choose my favorite musicians and artists. I do believe that Jay-Z has changed and evolved a great deal since he started in the business and it seems he has grown a lot. With that said, it was in the early 2000s that I noticed he was starting to take a great deal of social responsibility with his work. Most notably would be his collaboration with Punjabi MC in 03. ("Love Kills War When Will They Learn!"). At a time when people of South East Asian or Arabic descent were becoming victims of discrimination and social profiling, Jay-Z made a bold and powerful (yet slightly subconscious) political statement by collaborating with an artist like Punjabi MC. His collaboration with Linkin Park had a similar effect in the sense that it helped our impressionable youth to explore music beyond their "social boundaries". Both of these musical partnerships were very risky yet they were tremendously successful which is all apart of the formula that makes Jay-Z such a remarkable artist.
The most important aspect in determining my favorite artists would obviously be the quality of music and performance. Jay-z's unplugged concert featuring the roots was another risky venture. But the broadcast successfully shed light on the importance of musicianship and instrumentation in creating a strong musical experience. This emphasis on live music and musicians is unfortunately not as common within hip-hop music as it should be. Jay-z's most recent solo album The Blue Print III featured all original material performed and recorded with musicians.
Now all of the above was actually enough to consider Jay-Z as one of my favorite artists of all time. But his recent collab with Kanye and their homage to Otis Redding simply sealed the deal! The song "Otis" is like a serving of a perfect appetizer that literally has me drooling for more. I honestly believe it is the only Good record that is out now. I have been tempted to play it more than once in my set and that's pretty serious since I have a big rule about never repeating a record. What can I say! I love Jay-Z and I love the song "Otis"! Yes, I know all Jay and Kanye do is talk a lot of sh-- in this track, but right now for some reason it just really hits the spot!