Essential Listening: A playlist of Jay-Z’s favourite rappers
(Credit: Alamy)


Essential Listening: A playlist of Jay-Z's favourite rappers

Jay-Z’s one of the wealthiest men in hip-hop. He has been putting out music consistently since the 1990s, and as a well-connected Brooklyn rapper, the ‘Dead Presidents’ musician has been around hip-hop since he was a teenager in the 1980s. In 2019, Jay-Z became the first artist from the genre to achieve billionaire status.

As a result, the rapper (real name Shawn Carter) is considered one of the best rappers of all time and is revered as somewhat of a god within the culture, with a business portfolio like no other emcee.

Born and raised in the infamously poor Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn, Jay-Z grew up in the ’80s. During this period, Brooklyn was a musical hotspot. As New York entered the 1990s, the borough became more musically active than the Bronx, to the surprise of many. 

Although the culture originated in the Bronx, it is fair to say that in New York, the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens have arguably produced the biggest legends over time, including Nas and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Jay-Z has previously admitted that he looked up to local MCs such as Biggie Smalls, Jaz-O, and Big Daddy Kane as an adolescent. However, over a decade later, when asked about his favourite emcees on the LA radio show The Neighbourhood with host Big Boy, Carter responded, “I got the usual suspects – Biggie, Pac, Scarface, Eminem and Andre 3000. Off the top of my head, that would be my top five.”

That said, nearly a decade later, when he became the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, the Bed-Stuy lyricist paid homage to over one hundred other rap acts who inspired him on his journey.

During his speech, Jay-Z didn’t just name old-school classic acts but also spoke about newer artists who have given him drive over the years, including the likes of Travis Scott and J Cole. Below, you can see a playlist of tracks from 100 artists Jay mentioned.