The 40 Best Jay-Z Lyrics of All-Time

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Hov, Hova, Young Hov, Jigga Man, or Jay-Z, whatever you know him as, there is no denying that Shawn Carter is one of the most legendary and influential rappers of all-time.

RELATED: Jay-Z Is Making Crazy Bank as a Sports Agent

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Jay-Z escaped a life of poverty, crime, and violence to become not just a leader in music but also culture, business, and more. He has cemented his place amongst the all-time greats in music and is responsible for some of the best songs in hip-hop history.

He has dropped 13 solo albums throughout his career, along with five collaborative albums, multiple live albums, and more. While it is nearly impossible to pick what his best lyrics are, we did our best. Here are our picks for Jay-Z's 40 best lyrics.

1. I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell/I am a hustler, baby, I'll sell water to a whale -'U Don't Know'

"U Don't Know"

2. We used to fight for building blocks/Now we fight for blocks with buildings that make a killin'/The closest of friends when we first started/But grew apart as the money grew and soon grew black-hearted


3. Momma ain’t raised no fool/Put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth.

"U Don't Know"

4. Financial freedom my only hope/Fuck livin' rich and dyin' broke/I bought some artwork for one million/Two years later, that shit worth two million/Few years later, that shit worth eight million/I can't wait to give this shit to my children/Y'all think it's bougie, I'm like, it's fine/But I'm tryin' to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99

"The Story of O.J."

5. Look, if I shoot you, I'm brainless/But if you shoot me, then you're famous

"Streets Is Watching"

6. Nine-to-five is how you survive, I ain't tryna survive/I'm tryna live it to the limit and love it a lot/Life ills poisoned my body, I used to say fuck mic skills/I never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti/That's right, it's wicked – that's life, I live it/Ain't askin' for forgiveness for my sins, ends


7. Allow me to re-introduce myself/My name is Hov, OH, H-to-the-O-V/I used to move snowflakes by the O-Z/I guess even back then you can call me/CEO of the R-O-C, Hov!/Fresh out the fryin’ pan into the fire/I be the music biz number one supplier/Flyer than a piece of paper bearin’ my name/Got the hottest chick in the game wearin’ my chain, that’s right, Hov

"Public Service Announcement"

8. Shit, I'm a man with pride, you don't do shit like that/You don't just pick up and leave and leave me sick like that/You don't throw away what we had, just like that/I was just fuckin' them girls, I was gon' get right back/They say you can't turn a bad girl good/But once a good girl's gone bad, she's gone forever/I'll mourn forever/Shit, I've got to live with the fact I did you wrong forever

"Song Cry"

9. I'm so far ahead of my time, I'm 'bout to start another life/Look behind you, I'm 'bout to pass you twice

"Hovi Baby"

10. The year is '94, in my trunk is raw/In my rearview mirror is the motherfuckin' law/Got two choices, y'all: pull over the car or/Bounce on the devil, put the pedal to the floor/And I ain't tryin' to see no highway chase with Jake/Plus I got a few dollars, I can fight the case/So I pull over to the side of the road/I heard, "Son, do you know why I'm stopping you for?"/‘Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hat's real low?/Do I look like a mind reader, sir? I don't know

"99 Problems"

11. I'm not a biter, I'm a writer for myself and others/I say a B.I.G. verse, I'm only biggin' up my brother/Biggin' up my borough, I'm big enough to do it

"What More Can I Say"

12. Today I got my thoroughest girl with me/I'm mashin' the gas, she's grabbin' the wheel, it's trippy/How hard she rides with me, the new Bobby and Whitney/Only time we don't speak is during Sex and the City/She gets Carrie fever, but soon as the show's over/She's right back to being my soldier/‘Cause mami's a rider and I'm a roller/Put us together, how they gon' stop both us?

"'03 Bonnie and Clyde"

13. I’m wondering if a thug’s prayers reach/Is Pious pious 'cause God loves pious?/Socrates asked, whose bias do y'all seek?

"No Church In The Wild"

14. First of all, I wanna thank my connect/The most important person, with all due respect/Thanks to the duffle bag, the brown paper bag/The Nike shoe box for holding all this cash/Boys in blue who put greed before the badge/The first pusher who ever made the stash

"Roc Boys (And The Winner Is...)

15. Yea, yea I'm out that Brooklyn, now I'm down in Tribeca Right next to DeNiro, but I'll be hood forever

-"Empire State of Mind"

16. At your wake as I peek in, look in your casket Feelin' sarcastic, 'Look at him, still sleepin'

"22 Twos"

17. He told 12, “Gimme 12” He told them to go to hell about me

"Drug Dealers Anonymous"

18. Nah, I'm a poster for what happened seein' your moms Doin' five dollars worth of work just to get a dime So pardon my disposition Why should I listen to a system that never listened to me?

"Get By (Remix)"

19. People lined up to see the Titanic sinkin' Instead we rose up from the ash like a phoenix If you're waitin' for the end of the Dynasty sign It would seem like forever is a mighty long time

"Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)"

20. Look, I'm on my grind, cousin, ain't got time for frontin' Sensitive thugs, y'all all need hugs Damn, little mans, I'm just tryin' do me If the record's two mil I'm just tryin' move three

"Heart of the City"

21. From frustrated youths stuck in they ways Just read a magazine that fucked up my day How you rate music that thugs with nothin relate to it? I helped them see they way through it—NOT YOU.


22. I'd rather die enormous than live dormant, that's how we on it.

"Can I Live?"

23. Word life, I dabbled in crazy weight Without rap, I was crazy straight Partner, I'm still spendin money from '88

"Dead Presidents II"

24. And I got a question: Are you forgiving guys who live just like me? We'll never know One day I prayed to you and said if I ever blow, I'd let 'em know The stakes, and exactly what takes place in the ghetto Promise fulfilled, still I feel my job ain't done

"Where I'm From"

25. I got dreams of holding a nine milla to Bob's killer Asking him "why?" as my eyes fill up These days I can't wake up with a dry pillow Gone but not forgotten, homes I still feel ya So, curse the day that birthed the bastard Who caused your church mass, reverse the crash Reverse the blast then reverse the car Reverse the day and there you are, Bobalob Lord forgive him, we all have sinned But Bob's a good dude, please let him in And if you feel in my heart that I long for revenge Please blame it on the son of the morning, thanks again


26. Strive for what you believe in, set goals and you can achieve them


27 Can't be scared to fail, searching for perfection

"On to the Next One"

28. Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week

"Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)"

29. In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets


30. Nobody built like you, you design yourself

"A Dream"

31. A loss ain't a loss, it's a lesson


32. Fuck perception, go with what makes sense

"Moment of Clarity"

33. Whoever said illegal was the easy way out / Couldn't understand the mechanics and the workings of the underworld, granted


34. I stepped it up another level, meditated like a Buddhist/Recruited lieutenants with ludicrous dreams of gettin’ cream/‘Let’s do this,’ it gets tedious/So I keep one eye open like CBS—you see me stressed, right?

"Can I Live"

35. "One day you're up, next day you're down / Long as you stay the same, it'll come back around"


36. "In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do."

"Empire State of Mind"

37. "I'm not a businessman; I'm a business, man! Let me handle my business, damn."

"Public Service Announcement (Interlude)"

38. "I'm out for presidents to represent me."

"Dead Presidents II"

39. "I'm just trying to survive in this business of high cost of living; I can't afford to die, I can't afford to give up."

"Can't Knock the Hustle"

40. "I'm from the school of the hard knocks, we must not let outsiders violate our blocks."

"Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)"

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