The two songs Jay-Z thinks every hip-hop newbie has to hear
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The two songs Jay-Z thinks every hip-hop newbie has to hear

Jay-Z is the most successful hip-hop artist since the genre’s emergence in the late 1970s. With a net worth of over $1billion, the emcee and businessman is now a mogul and established entrepreneur. Having invested in the NFL and NBA as well as setting up record labels, sports agencies and more, the lyricist (real name Shawn Carter) is now seen as the face of rap music.

That said, many wouldn’t expect such a prestigious figure to appear on British radio, and if he did, many would assume it would be a short interview on BBC1 Xtra. However, in 2010, the tycoon made a strange appearance on The Today Programme with Evan Davis and Sarah Montague on BBC Radio Four. 

During his conversation with Davis and Montague, the artist discussed his various business endeavours, such as creating Roc Nation, seizing investment opportunities and discerning how and when to buy assets. He also spoke about what the election of Barack Obama meant for the US and reflected on his experiences growing up in one of Brooklyn’s most deprived projects, the Marcy Houses.

As many who listen will know, BBC Radio Four is a radio station that is not aimed at fans of current music, especially urban music. With its programming predominantly aimed at over 40s and typically listened to by Caucasians, Davis and Montague asked Carter to suggest songs that people who “don’t get” hip-hop should listen to.

Jay-Z decided that for listeners of BBC Radio Four, Lauryn Hill’s ‘To Zion’ and 2Pac’s ‘Dear Mama’ would be good starting points for people looking to understand the genre and perhaps grow to like it.

Lauryn Hill was, of course, a fantastic choice to demonstrate how females can tell socially conscious and profound stories through rap. However, ‘To Zion’ is undoubtedly a soul track. Although Jay chose the right artist, many would perhaps point to a song such as ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’.

For Jay-Z’s second choice, 2Pac is another artist who deserves great respect and has a hefty catalogue of work to choose from. However, again, the track is slow-paced and a little soft to be an authentic representation of hip-hop culture. A conscious song with a little more lyricism and aggression, such as ‘The Next Movement’ by The Roots, may have been more appropriate.

Regardless of anyone’s subjective opinion, Jay chose the two tracks that he believes are the starter pack for rap newbies. You can listen to Carter’s two picks below.