Jay-Z recently had four songs added to Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list – “Crazy in Love” with Beyonce at No. 118, “Umbrella” with Rihanna at No. 412, “99 Problems” at No. 172 and “Big Pimpin” at No. 467.
In celebration of his induction onto the prestigious list, Jay wrote an introduction to the list, sharing what he thinks makes a “classic track.”
“A great song doesn’t attempt to be anything — it just is,” he begins, lauding Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “When you hear a great song, you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time. A great song has all the key elements — melody; emotion; a strong statement that becomes part of the lexicon; and great production.”
Jay-Z continued to speak on some of the difficulties incurred when writing a song, “I spend a lot of time fighting myself to stay out of the way of a great song. It’s hard for me to leave a song alone, in its natural state. I want it to have that mass appeal, but once I start trying to push it too far, you can feel that something isn’t right.”
So what does Jay-Z think his best song was?
“Some of my best songs aren’t the biggest ones. A song like ‘Can I Live’ is so full of emotion to me — it was better than ‘Hard Knock Life’ or ‘Empire State of Mind,’ but it lacked that accessibility. Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album may not have been bigger than Thriller, but the songs had better melodies.”