10 Greatest Lyrics and Lines From One of The Best Hip Hop Artists of All Time.

Shawn Carter, professionally known as Jay-Z, is a rapper, record producer and entrepreneur. Jay-Z is one of the most successful hip hop artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records and received 21 Grammy Awards for his music.

MTV has listed Jay-Z as the “Greatest MC of all time” in 2006. Rolling Stone ranked Jay-Z as the 88th greatest music artist of all time. In 2017, Forbes estimated Jay-Z’s net worth to be $810 million, making him the second richest hip hop artist in the U.S.

Jay-Z has business ventures including Rocawear clothing line, Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc Nation and Roc Nation Sports. Jay-Z is married to Beyoncé. As a couple, Jay-Z and Beyoncé have a combined net worth of $1.16 billion.


You walkin’ around like you invincible
You dropped outta school, you lost your principles
I know people backstab you, I felt bad too
But this ‘fuck everybody’ attitude ain’t natural
But you ain’t a Saint, this ain’t KumbaYe
But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye
You gave him 20 million without blinkin’
He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’?
“Fuck wrong with everybody?” is what you sayin’
But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s in sane

— Jay-Z


I don’t know how to sleep, I gotta eat, stay on my toes. Got a lot of beef, so logically, I prey on my foes. Hustling’s still inside of me, and as far as progress you’d be hard-pressed, to find another rapper hot as me. I gave you prophecy on my first joint, and y’all lamed out. Didn’t really appreciate it, ’til the second one came out. So I stretched the game out, etched your name out. Put Jigga on top, and drop albums non-stop for ya, ni**a!”

— Jay-Z


You almost went Eric Benét
Let the baddest girl in the world get away
I don’t even know what else to say
Nigga, never go Eric Benét!

— Jay-Z


I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo
For like 2 million
That same building today is worth 25 million
Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo

— Jay-Z


Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear
There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here, yeah

— Jay-Z


Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian
Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate
Society shame and the pain was too much to take

— Jay-Z


My therapist said I relapsed
I said, “Prehaps I Freudian slipped in European whips”
God sent me to break the chain
I’m the true and livin’
God in the flesh, the rest of these niggas is vain
A stain on the white suit, inferior IQ
Niggas’ll rip your shit off TIDAL just to spite you

— Jay-Z


I sat down with Prince, eye to eye
He told me his wishes before he died
Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind
They only see green from them purple eyes

— Jay-Z


This guy had ‘Slave’ on his face
You think he wanted the masters with his masters?
You greedy bastards sold tickets to walk through his house
I’m surprised you ain’t auction off the casket

— Jay-Z


I still mourn this death, I apologize for all the stillborns
‘Cause I wasn’t present, your body wouldn’t accept it

— Jay-Z


And if my children knew, I don’t even know what I would do
If they ain’t look at me the same
I would prob’ly die with all the shame
“You did what with who?”
What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate?
“You risked that for Blue?”

— Jay-Z


All this old talk left me confused
You’d rather be old rich me or new you?
And old niggas, y’all stop actin’ brand new
Like 2Pac ain’t have a nose ring too, huh

— Jay-Z


What’s better than one billionaire? Two.
‘Specially if they’re from the same hue as you

— Jay-Z


Y’all be talkin’ crazy under them IG pictures
So when you get to Hell you tell ’em blanco sent you
I can’t take no threats, I got a set of twins
Those were just the words you’ll never hear again

— Jay-Z


Before we had A&R’s, we had AR’s too
We the only ones really movin’ like y’all say y’all do
We still movin’ like y’all niggas say y’all did
Emory passed you niggas and he did a bid

— Jay-Z


Y’all fuck the same fuckin’ chicks
I’m in the skrt with ya—yeah, right
I’m the skrt with ya—cool story
I’m on the ch—’nough of this
Look, I know killers, you no killer, huh?
Bathing Ape maybe not a gorilla, huh?

— Jay-Z


Y’all ni**as lunching, punching a clock. My function is lo make much ‘n’ lay back munching. Sipping Remy on rocks, my crew something to watch nothing to stop unstoppable. Scheme on the ice, I gotta hide your crew. I gotta let you ni**as know the time like Movado. My motto, stack rocks like Colorado. Bottle of the champagne, crystals by the bottle. It’s a damn shame what you’re not though, (who?) me slick like a GATO fuckin’ Jay-Z. Pops knew exactly what he did when he made me. Tried to get a nut and he got a nut and what. Straight bananas.

— Jay-Z


Y’all niggas still signin’ deals? Still?
After all they done stole, for real?
After what they done to our Lauryn Hill?
And y’all niggas is ‘posed to be trill?

— Jay-Z


Assume a virtue if you have not
Or better yet here’s a verse from Hamlet
“Lord, we know who we are
Yeah, we know not what we may be”
So maybe I’m the one or maybe I’m crazy

— Jay-Z


I got the feds sending me letters ’cause I’m schooling the youth. But they can’t lock me down ’cause my tool is the truth. Yeah I sold drugs for a living, that’s a given. Why is it? Why don’t y’all try to visit the neighborhoods I lived in? My mind been through hell, my neighborhood is crime central where cops lock you more than try to defend you. I push you to the limit when I’m needing the wealth. And all I see is life cycle just repeatin’ itself.”

— Jay-Z


Streets is my artery, the vein of my existence
I’m the Gotham City heartbeat
I started in lobbies now, probably with Saudis
Sufi to the goofies, I could probably speak Farsi

— Jay-Z


She might start an institute
She might put poor kids through school
My stake in Roc Nation should go to you
Leave a piece for your siblings to give to their children too

— Jay-Z


Your homey Hov’ in position, in the kitchen with soda. I just whipped up a watch, trying to get me a Rover. Trying to stretch out the coca, like a wrestler, yessir. Keep the Heckler close, you know them smokers’ll test ya. But like, 52 cards went out, I’m through dealing. Now 52 bars come out, now you feel ’em. Now, 52 cars roll out, remove ceiling. In case 52 broads come out, now you chilling. With a boss, bitch of course, S.C. on the sleeve. At the 40/40 club, ESPN on the screen. I paid a grip for the jeans, plus the slippers is clean. No chrome on the wheels, I’m a grown-up for real’.

— Jay-Z


‘Cause strangely our division led to multiple religions
I studied Muslim, Buddhist, and Christians
And I was runnin’ from him, He was givin’ me wisdom
See how the universe works?
It takes my hurt and help me find more of myself
It’s a gift and a curse
That’s called the red queens race

— Jay-Z




Don’t tell me what was said about me. Tell me why they were so comfortable to say it to you. 

— Jay-Z


Everybody look at you strange, say you changed
Like you work that hard to stay the same. 

— Jay-Z


Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself. 

— Jay-Z


A wise man told me don’t argue with fools. Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who. 

— Jay-Z


Don’t ever go with the flow. Be the flow. 

— Jay-Z


I look in the mirror, my only opponent. 

— Jay-Z


You not feeling me, fine. It costs you nothing, pay me no mind. 

— Jay-Z


Everybody can tell you how to do it but they never done it. 

— Jay-Z


Be true to yourself- and keep things simple. People complicate things. 

— Jay-Z


I seen the worst of the worst. I deserve every blessing I receive I’m from the dirt. 

— Jay-Z


Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow. — Jay-Z


Niggas pray and pray on my downfall, But every time I hit the ground I bounce up like round ball. — Jay-Z


Leave a mark they can’t erase, neither space nor time. — Jay-Z


You learn more in failure than you ever do in success. — Jay-Z


You can pay for school, but you can’t buy class. — Jay-Z


Ain’t nothin’ wrong with the aim, just gotta change the target. — Jay-Z


Life is a gift, love opens it up. — Jay-Z


Males shouldn’t be jealous. That’s a female trait. — Jay-Z


I’m hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. — Jay-Z


The genius thing that we did was, we didn’t give up. — Jay-Z


Remind your self. Nobody constructed like you, you style your self. — Jay-Z


Only God can judge me so I’m gone, either love me or leave me alone. — Jay-Z


I’ve never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people. I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself, and I’ve managed to do that. People have to accept that. — Jay-Z


I got mouths to feed til they put flowers on me. — Jay-Z


When you step outside of school and have to teach yourself about life, you develop a different relationship to information. I’ve never been a purely linear thinker. You can see it in my rhymes. My mind is always jumping around, restless, making connections, mixing and matching ideas, rather than marching in a straight line. That’s why I’m always stressing focus. My thoughts chase each other from room to room in my head if I let them, so sometimes I have to slow myself down. — Jay-Z


Only he without sin can tell me if my means justify my ends. — Jay-Z


Nine to five is how ya survive, I ain’t trying to survive
I’m trying to live it to the limit and love it alive. — Jay-Z


I’d rather die enormous than live dormant. — Jay-Z


I’m a mirror. If you’re cool with me, I’m cool with you, and the exchange starts. What you see is what you reflect. If you don’t like what you see, then you’ve done something. If I’m standoffish, that’s because you are. — Jay-Z


Without the work, the magic won’t come. — Jay-Z


You can put a new shirt on your back, slide a fresh chain around your neck, and accumulate all the money and power in the world, but at the end of the day those are just layers. Money and power don’t change you, they just further expose your true self. — Jay-Z


I will not lose, for even in defeat/There’s a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me. — Jay-Z


I keep my enemies close/ I give ’em enough rope/ They put themselves in the air/ I just kick away the chair. — Jay-Z


In trouble waters I had to learn how to float. — Jay-Z


No one’s walking around here perfect. Everyone’s gonna make mistakes. That’s part of how you learn. — Jay-Z


Be fluid. Treat each project differently. Be water, man. The best style is no style. Because styles can be figured out. And when you have no style they can’t figure you out. — Jay-Z


May the best of your today’s be the worst of your tomorrow’s. — Jay-Z


I use a lot of double meanings. I hide ’em like Easter eggs. — Jay-Z


I’m not saying I’m God. But as far as lyrics, I’m God MC. — Jay-Z


As kids we didn’t complain about being poor; we talked about how rich we were going to be and made moves to get the lifestyle we aspired to by any means we could. And as soon as we had a little money, we were eager to show it. — Jay-Z


When I come back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5
It ain’t to play games with you, it’s to aim at you, probably maim you
If I owe you I’m blowin’ you to smithereens. — Jay-Z


just when i thought i had everything, I lost it all. — Jay-Z


Sometimes I trip on how happy we could be
And so I put this on my life
Nobody or nothing will ever come between us
And I promise I’ll give my life. — Jay-Z


Their gunnin’ for me, want to see me fall, you know my story, been through it all, times I felt like dyin’, but I ain’t cryin’, what didn’t kill me, makes me strong as iron. — Jay-Z


I wrote this [Most Kings] before MJ died, and his death only proves my point: When he was alive, the King of Pop, people were tireless in taking him down, accepting as truth every accusation people made against him, assuming the worst until they drove him away. When he died, suddenly he was beloved again – people realized that the charges against him might really have been bogus, and that the skin lightening was really caused by a disease, and that his weirdness was part of his artistry. But when he was alive and on top, they couldn’t wait to bring him down. — Jay-Z


This is why we shouldn’t be afraid. There are two possibilities: One is that there’s more to life than the physical life, that our souls “will find an even higher place to dwell” when this life is over. If that’s true, there’s no reason to fear failure or death. The other possibility is that this life is all there is. And if that’s true, then we have to really live it – we have to take it for everything it has and “die enormous” instead of “living dormant,” as I said way back on “Can I Live.” Either way, fear is a waste of time. — Jay-Z


Hip-hop has done so much for racial relations, and I don’t think it’s given the proper credit. It has changed America immensely. I’m going to make a very bold statement: Hip-hop has done more than any leader, politician, or anyone to improve race relations. — Jay-Z


I’m not afraid of dying I’m afraid of not trying. — Jay-Z


Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama’s running so we all can fly. — Jay-Z


We change people through conversation, not through censorship. — Jay-Z


[T]he truth is you don’t need some external demon to take control of you to turn you into a raging, money-obsessed sociopath, you only need to let loose the demons you already have inside of you. — Jay-Z


You can want success all you want, but to get it, you can’t falter. You can’t slip. You can’t sleep. One eye open, for real, and forever. — Jay-Z


Put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth.
Motherf–. I, will, not, lose. — Jay-Z


Your future is ahead of you. Imagine the notion of the past fifteen years of your life being a blip in your story. — Jay-Z


It’s always been most important for me to figure out “my space” rather than trying to check out what everyone else is up to, minute by minute. Technology is making it easier to connect to other people, but maybe harder to keep connected to yourself– and that’s essential for any artist, I think. — Jay-Z


I’m far from being god, but I work god damn hard. — Jay-Z


Jealousy’s a weak emotion. — Jay-Z


I ain’t lookin’ at you dudes -I’m lookin’ past you. — Jay-Z


Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t. — Jay-Z


I never ask for nothin’ I don’t demand of myself. Honesty, loyalty, friends and then wealth. — Jay-Z


You can’t turn a bad girl good, but once a good girls’ gone bad, she’s gone forever. — Jay-Z


Now success was like lust, she’s good to the touch,
She’s good for the moment, but she’s never enough. — Jay-Z


Everything evens up, you just wait, Even a garbage can gets a steak, You ain’t even a garbage can, you have faith! — Jay-Z


[T]he truth is that drug addicts have a disease. It only takes a short time in the streets to realize that out-of-control addiction is a medical problem, not a form of recreational or criminal behavior. And the more society treats drug addiction as a crime, the more money drug dealers will make “relieving” the suffering of the addicts. — Jay-Z


I thought I would be more inspired to have all these new feelings to talk about, but I really just want to hang out with my daughter. — Jay-Z


There’s the gift, there’s the spirit, and there’s the work-all three have to come together. If one of those things is off, it can stop you from becoming who you were meant to be. — Jay-Z


Is to have had and lost/Better than not having at all? — Jay-Z


Difficult takes a day
Impossible takes a week
I do this in my sleep. — Jay-Z


Life is for living, not living uptight, see ya somewhere up in the sky. — Jay-Z


The most amazing feeling I feel
Words can’t describe what I’m feeling for real
Maybe I paint the sky blue
My greatest creation was you. — Jay-Z


I’m hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That’s what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that’s from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter. — Jay-Z


No matter where you go you are what you are player and you can try to change but that’s just the top layer man you was who you was before you got here. — Jay-Z


My thing is related to who I am as a person. The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I’m feeling at the time, whatever direction I’m heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows. — Jay-Z


I’m a hustler, baby; I sell water to a well! — Jay-Z


Successful people have a bigger fear of failure than people who’ve never done anything because if you haven’t been successful, then you don’t know how it feels to lose it all. — Jay-Z


Artists can have greater access to reality; they can see patterns and details and connections that other people, distracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing. — Jay-Z


Rap has been a path between cultures in the best tradition of popular music. — Jay-Z


Boxing is a glorious sport to watch and boxers are incredible, heroic athletes, but it’s also, to be honest, a stupid game to play. Even the winners can end up with crippling brain damage. In a lot of ways, hustling is the same. But you learn something special from playing the most difficult games, the games where winning is close to impossible and losing is catastrophic: You learn how to compete as if your life depended on it. That’s the lesson I brought with me to the so-called “legitimate” world. — Jay-Z


We’ll have a baby who stutters repeatedly We’ll name him history. — Jay-Z


I believe you can speak things into existence. — Jay-Z


Screamin’ ‘Carpe Diem!’ until I’m a Dead Poet. — Jay-Z


I’m trying to tell the story in the most clear, concise, and truthful way, taking those everyday words and phrases and capturing them in a way that they become something else. — Jay-Z


I’m not concerned with noise because I’m playing the long game. — Jay-Z


You know the type: loud as a motorbike but wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight. — Jay-Z


I believe excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over. — Jay-Z


Treat my first like my last and the last like my first and my thirst is the same as- when I came. — Jay-Z


New York has a thousand universes in it that don’t always connect but we do all walk the same streets, hear the same sirens, ride the same subways, see the same headlines in the Post, read the same writings on the walls. That shared landscape gets inside of all of us and, in some small way, unites us, makes us think we know each other even when we don’t. — Jay-Z


Don’t make decisions based on the fear. — Jay-Z


If the beat is time, flow is what we do with that time, how we live through it. The beat is everywhere, but every life has to find its own flow. — Jay-Z


I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning, so I was forced to be like a businessman because when I was trying to get a record deal, it was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company. — Jay-Z


That’s why this generation is the least racist generation ever. You see it all the time. Go to any club. People are intermingling, hanging out, having fun, enjoying the same music. Hip-hop is not just in the Bronx anymore. It’s worldwide. Everywhere you go, people are listening to hip-hop and partying together. Hip-hop has done that. — Jay-Z


Hip-hop is more about attaining wealth. People respect success. They respect big. They don’t even have to like your music. If you’re big enough, people are drawn to you. — Jay-Z


I jack, I rob, I sin. Aw man, I’m Jackie Robinson ‘Cept when I run base, I dodge the pen. — Jay-Z


How could I be out there and not do anything? — Jay-Z


I love you so, But why I love you, I’ll never know. — Jay-Z


Wherever I go, I bring the culture with me, so that they can understand that it’s attainable. I didn’t do it any other way than through hip-hop. — Jay-Z


It was a weird mix of emotions. One day, your best friend could be killed. The day before, you could be celebrating him getting a brand-new bike. — Jay-Z


My life after childhood has two main stories: the story of the hustler and the story of the rapper, and the two overlap as much as they diverge. I was on the streets for more than half of my life from the time I was thirteen years old. People sometimes say that now I’m so far away from that life – now that I’ve got businesses and Grammys and magazine covers – that I have no right to rap about it. But how distant is the story of your own life ever going to be? The feelings I had during that part of my life were burned into me like a brand. It was life during wartime. — Jay-Z


Stop screamin’, you know the demon said it’s best to die,
And even if Jehovah witness, bet he’ll never testify, D’Evils… — Jay-Z


I spring train in the winter, around early December… — Jay-Z


I got 99 Problems but Mitt ain’t one. — Jay-Z


I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice – anything just to get a paper bag. And I’d write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook. — Jay-Z


They say a midget standing on a giant’s shoulders can see much further than the giant. So I got the whole rap world on my shoulders, they trying to see further than I am. — Jay-Z


Used to rock a throwback ballin on the corner, now I rock tailored suit lookin’ like a owner. — Jay-Z


Hip-hop gave a generation a common ground that didn’t require either race to lose anything; everyone gained. — Jay-Z


Which is the other reason hip-hop is controversial: People don’t bother trying to get it. The problem isn’t in the rap or the rapper or the culture. The problem is that so many people don’t even know how to listen to the music. — Jay-Z


I smoked some weed, and that’s how I finished ‘Izzo.’ — Jay-Z


Gotta keep it peace like a Buddhist
Nobody gonna Wesley snipe me
It’s less than likely,
Move back,
Let I breathe Jedi knight,
The more space I get the better I write,
(Oh) Never I write, but, if, ever I write,
I need the space to say whatever I like. — Jay-Z


You could name practically any problem in the hood and there’d be a rap song for you. — Jay-Z


One of the reasons inequality gets so deep in this country is that everyone wants to be rich. That’s the American ideal. Poor people don’t like talking about poverty because even though they might live in the projects surrounded by other poor people and have, like, ten dollars in the bank, they don’t like to think of themselves as poor. — Jay-Z


Kurt Cobain OD’d on heroin before committing suicide, but he also OD’d on fame. Cobain was like Basquiat: They both wanted to be famous, and were brilliant enough to make it happen. But then what? Drug addicts kill themselves trying to get that feeling they got from their first high, looking for an experience they’ll never get again. In his suicide note, Cobain asked himself, “Why don’t you just enjoy it?” and then answered, “I don’t know!” It’s amazing how much of a mindfuck success can be. — Jay-Z


Growing up, politics never trickled down to the areas we come from. But people from Obama’s camp, and Obama himself, reached out to me and asked for my help on the campaign. We’ve sat and had dinner, and we’ve spoken on the phone. He’s a very sharp guy. Very charming. Very cool.   — Jay-Z


We were kids without fathers, so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history, and in a way, that was a gift. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves. — Jay-Z


The burden of poverty isn’t just that you don’t always have the things you need, it’s the feeling of being embarrassed every day of your life, and you’d do anything to lift that burden. — Jay-Z


I think Lil Wayne is extremely talented. I think he’s one of the most talented ones out there. — Jay-Z


I couldn’t even think about wanting to be something else; I wouldn’t let myself visualize another life. But I wrote because I couldn’t stop. It was a release, a mental exercise, a way of keeping sane. — Jay-Z


And through our travels we get separated, never forget:
In order to survive, got to learn to live with regrets. — Jay-Z


And now we’re lethal, infected with D’Evils. — Jay-Z


All these ways we classify things as R&B and hip-hop and rock… It’s bullshit. It’s all music. If you put yourself in that box, then you won’t be able to hear that it’s all music at its soul. — Jay-Z


I get my by any means on, whenever there’s a drought get your umbrellas out because that’s when I brainstorm. — Jay-Z


Cough up a lung where I’m from marcy son, ain’t nothin nice. — Jay-Z


You ain’t gotta go to church to find your God. — Jay-Z


As fate would have it, Jay’s status appears
To be at an all-time high, perfect time to say goodbye
When I come back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5. — Jay-Z


I came, I saw, I conquered
From record sales to sold out concerts. — Jay-Z


Can I hit it in the morning with out giving you have of my dough? — Jay-Z


What people do in their own homes is their business, and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple — Jay-Z


I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man! — Jay-Z


When I listen to great music, the first thing I wonder is what people were saying when this came out of the speakers in the studio. I want to know what happened when they played it and said, “This is the one!” — Jay-Z


I don’t even like the word politics. It implies something underhanded and I think we need less government. — Jay-Z


The fans get to see you, and you can do great by your record if you have a great performance or a great night there. That’s all part of the business. But at their core, awards shows are not really a sincere thing. For a lot of years, the artists had to pay to play their own set. — Jay-Z


People really feel like music is free, but will pay $6 for water. You can drink water free out of the tap and it’s good water. But they’re okay paying for it. It’s just the mindset right now. — Jay-Z


If I don’t show the world growth, how are we going to grow? — Jay-Z


No matter where you go, you are what you are playa. — Jay-Z


[Banning marriage equality is] discrimination, plain and simple. It’s really not about votes. It’s about people. I think it’s the right thing to do as a human being. — Jay-Z


You put the right artist on the right track in the studio and leave the door open to let God in. — Jay-Z


When you’re growing up, your dad is your superhero. Once you’ve let yourself fall that in love with someone, once you put him on such a high pedestal and he lets you down, you never want to experience that pain again. — Jay-Z


When you listen to an album, it shouldn’t feel like, “That’s the girl song,” “That’s the club song.” I shouldn’t know what you’re thinking while you’re making the song. I don’t want to know what the artist is thinking. — Jay-Z


By the time I got to record my first album, I was 26, I didn’t need pen or paper – my memory had been trained just to listen to a song, think of the words, and lay them to tape. — Jay-Z


My tears is tatted, my rag in my pocket / I’m just looking for love, I know somebody got it. — Jay-Z


Shakespeare was a man who wrote poetry. I’m a man who writes poetry. Why not compare yourself to the best? — Jay-Z


Well I’m not just gon’ go and do rap songs. I wanna touch, and maybe help, and see what I can do in these areas.’ As I start looking around me, looking at things in ways that I can become helpful, starting at the first thing, water. Something as simple as water. — Jay-Z


The average rap life is two or three albums. You’re lucky to get to your second album in rap! — Jay-Z


Racism is taught in the home. We agree on that? Well, it’s very hard to teach racism to a teenager who’s listening to rap music and who idolizes, say, Snoop Dogg. It’s hard to say, ‘That guy is less than you.’ The kid is like, ‘I like that guy, he’s cool. How is he less than me? — Jay-Z


Electing a black man named Barack Obama President in the same country that elected George W. Bush – twice! – is as far-fetched as a hustler from Marcy performing at that President’s inauguration. But it happened. — Jay-Z


I grew up in Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, and my mom and pop had an extensive record collection, so Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and all of those sounds and souls of Motown filled the house. — Jay-Z


Hip-hop is a perfect mix between poetry and boxing. — Jay-Z


You shared one of the most intimate things that ever happened to you – falling in love with someone who wasn’t brave enough to love you back. Your relieving yourself of your ‘secret’ is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly. — Jay-Z


When people say stuff like, “Oh, that’s soft rock. I don’t listen to that,” I find that elitist. It’s music-racist. — Jay-Z


If I was to stop making music tomorrow doesn’t mean suddenly there is this gap. You don’t get elected. The people decide where you are. Whether I’m here or not, if they want you to be at the top then the people will move me out the way. — Jay-Z


I’m a person that works off of music. I let the music dictate the direction. — Jay-Z


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. I gotta get my soul right, I gotta get these Devils out my life. Lord forgive him, He got them dark forces in. connected to the high power. 666. I can introduce you to evil. — Jay-Z


If your dad died before you were born, yeah, it hurts—but it’s not like you had a connection with something that was real. Not to say it’s any better— but to have that connection and then have it ripped away was, like, the worst. My dad was such a good dad that when he left, he left a huge scar. He was my superhero. — Jay-Z


I love that because that’s what I’m supposed to be doing – whether it’s accepted b everybody or not. I’m supposed to be pushing that envelope and trying new things. And people are supposed to say, Hov, you might have went too far. — Jay-Z


The day Obama got elected, the gangsta became less relevant. — Jay-Z


I am not a businessman. I am a business, man. — Jay-Z


Ex-D-boy, used to park my Beamer
Now look at me, I can park in my own arena. — Jay-Z


The Nets’ a stone throw from where I used to throw bricks
…So it’s only right I’m still tossing ’round Knicks. — Jay-Z


I’m gonna fight, and I’m gonna make something out of nothing. That’s pretty much the American dream. So, for me, the realization that I could speak to people like that came first on a small scale. Then it just started happening. I started having this vibration. — Jay-Z


Everyone who makes music is a good collaborator at their foundation because in order to make music, you have to connect to it in a way that other people can’t. — Jay-Z


I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars. — Jay-Z


We create music to express ourselves and when the world relates, that’s a beautiful thing. We’re all trading off each other’s culture, so no matter what lines you put-country indie rock, rap, we’re all somehow gonna find a way to come together. — Jay-Z


Little brothers ring fingers get cut up to show mothers they really got em. — Jay-Z


It was a very intense and stressful situation. There was playing in the Johnny-pump (an opened fire hydrant) and the ice-cream man coming around and all of these games that we’d play, and suddenly it would turn just violent and there would be shootings at 12 in the afternoon on any given day. — Jay-Z


I like a girl who spend a little cash for her shoes. — Jay-Z


I can think of no one more relevant and credible in the hip-hop community to build upon Def Jam’s fantastic legacy and move the company into its next groundbreaking era. — Jay-Z


I have inherited two of the most important brands in hip-hop, Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella. Reid and Universal Music Group have given me the opportunity to manage the companies I have contributed to my whole career. I feel this is a giant step for me and the entire artist community. — Jay-Z


Driving Benzes with no benefits, not bad huh, for some immigrants. — Jay-Z


As sure as this Earth is turnin, souls burnin / In search of higher learnin, turnin in every direction seeking direction / My moms cryin cause her insides are dyin / Her son tryin her patience, keep her heart racin / A million beats a minute, I know I push you to your limit / But it’s this game, love—I’m caught up all in it / They make it so you can’t prevent it, never give it / You gotta take it, can’t fake it, I keep it authentic. — Jay-Z


If you want the old me, go buy my old albums. — Jay-Z


My brands are an extension of me. They’re close to me. It’s not like running GM, where there’s no emotional attachment. — Jay-Z


Whoever said that artists shouldn’t pay attention to their business was probably someone w/their hand in some artist’s pocket. — Jay-Z


I noticed that difference early on, like if you were successful in rock ‘n’ roll, that was a really bad thing, you almost had to hide it. You had these guys selling 200 million records with dirty T-shirts on. I was like, ‘Come on, man. Come on. We know you’re successful.’ Hip-hop is more about attaining wealth. People respect success. They respect big. They don’t even have to like your music. If you’re big enough, people are drawn to you. — Jay-Z


A poet’s mission is to make words do more work than they normally do, to make them work on more than one level. — Jay-Z


So many people that I’ve seen can’t get clean water. It’s a crime. — Jay-Z


Got some, dirt on my shoulder, could you brush it off for me? — Jay-Z


I got this black chick, she don’t know how to act
Always talkin’ out her neck, makin’ her fingers snap
She like, “Listen Jigga Man, I don’t care if you rap
You better – R-E-S-P-E-C-T me — Jay-Z


I gave you prophecy on my first joint, and y’all lamed out
Didn’t really appreciate it, ’til the second one came out. — Jay-Z


On the night he died – he was twenty-seven – Basquiat had been planning to see a Run-DMC show. When people asked him what his art was about, he’d hit them with the same three words: “Royalty, heroism, and the streets. — Jay-Z


If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be
Lyrically, Talib Kweli
Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did 5 mill’ – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since. — Jay-Z


Everyone needs a chance to evolve. — Jay-Z


But this is one of the things that makes rap at its best so human. It doesn’t force you to pretend to be only one thing or another, to be a saint or a sinner. It recognizes that you can be true to yourself and still have unexpected dimensions and opposing ideas. Having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other is the most common thing in the world. The real bullshit is when you act like you don’t have contradictions inside you, that you’re so dull and unimaginative that your mind never changes or wanders into strange, unexpected places. — Jay-Z


In the end, you can’t censor the truth, especially when it comes packaged in hot music. — Jay-Z


It’s hilarious a lot of times. You have a conversation with someone, and he’s like, ‘You speak so well!’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean? Do you understand that’s an insult? — Jay-Z


Far from a Harvard student, just had the balls to do it. — Jay-Z


I really just like breaking down the barriers, whether it means doing an album with Linkin Park, an album with R. Kelly, or playing at the Brandenburg Gate with Bono. — Jay-Z


I had success. I had a number one record. I had a number one album. I have to make this kind of record again or else I’m going to lose it all. That’s how you end up making the same song over and over. — Jay-Z


The reason I’ve been grounded and able to make albums, is because I’ve allowed my friends to come with me and voice an opinion. That’s who keeps you grounded, the people who have known you longest. — Jay-Z


People who don’t know you, you don’t know their motives. They smile at you all day, “Oh, that’s great. You’ve done it again! You’re the greatest!” And that’s not good for an artist. — Jay-Z


For me, the challenge is just making great albums, because talent – and writing in general – is not tangible. There’s no expiration date on it. At the same time, you might wake up tomorrow and be unable to write music. — Jay-Z


For me, being with Obama or having dinner with Bill Clinton… It’s crazy. It’s mind-blowing, because where I come from is just another world. We were just ignored by politicians, by America in general. — Jay-Z


I collect art, and I drink wine… things that I like that I had never been exposed to. But I never said, ‘I’m going to buy art to impress this crowd.’ That’s just ridiculous to me. I don’t live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself? — Jay-Z


I think the consumption of music is at an all-time high. But I think the ways that record companies are trying to monetize it is just all over the place. At the end of the day, music is in the clouds. Before, you could hold it, look at it, turn it around. Now, it’s just in the air. — Jay-Z