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In a career spanning upwards of a quarter-century, JAY-Z has proved himself to be one of, if not, the most formidable lyricist to pick up a mic. Wowing rap fans with his wizardry over the course of thirteen solo studio albums, collaborative projects and guest appearances, the pride of Marcy Projects has enough evidence to proclaim himself as a “God MC” and continues to raise the bar with every bar spat.
While a large part of Hov’s legacy was built while testing his mettle against his numerous rivals in friendly, yet merciless sparring sessions and all out verbal assaults, his history of going toe-to-toe with female rappers is often overlooked. While these collaborations are often devoid of the malice and vitriol reserved for his male counterparts, the competitive juices still flow on occasion and have resulted in memorable selections that have stood the test of time.
In honor of Hov’s 50th birthday, REVOLT highlights nine duets that paired JAY-Z with a female rap artist. Peep them below.
1. “Ain’t No Nigga”
JAY-Z’s first big splash on the mainstream level came via this record, which paired Hov with rising rap phenom and femme fatale Foxy Brown. Produced by Jaz-O, and powered by a sample of The Four Tops’ “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got),” this battle-of-the-sexes caught the rap world’s attention in a big way and marks the genesis of Hov’s collaborations with female emcees.
2. “I’ll Be”
The Jigga Man and Fox Boogie upped the ante from their first collaboration with this heater from the latter’s solo debut. Produced by Trackmasters and released as the second single from Ill Na Na, the track reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and marked JAY and Foxy’s apex as a tandem.
3. “Paper Chase”
Bonnie and Clyde reunite once again on this highlight from JAY-Z’s Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life album. Flowing over jittery production by Timbaland, the pair of Brooklynites go for broke on this salvo, making it clear that their primary focus was on the revenue and expenditures.
4. “Bonnie & Clyde (Part 2)”
Hov rides shotgun alongside Foxy on this Ty Fyffe-produced effort from the Chyna Doll’s sophomore effort. While billed as a sequel, it’s unclear if an original version of the song was ever recorded or released.
5. “Heard It All”
Sean Lashley and Chavon Henry provide the backdrop for this standout from Amil’s Roc-A-Fella debut, which finds JAY-Z and the former first lady of the Roc matching wits. In addition to reeling off a potent guest verse, Hov also delivers a hook complimentary of Amil’s own rhyme spill, resulting in one of the duo’s unsung collaborations.
6. “Mi Amor”
In 2001, JAY-Z lent his lyrical prowess to radio personality-turned-rapper Angie Martinez’s single “Mi Amor” from her debut album, Up Close and Personal. Produced by Rockwilder, the track, which includes playful bilingual banter between the two, was a minor hit and is regarded as an oft-forgotten classic.
7. “Count It Off”
JAY-Z’s affinity for Philly rap is well documented with his appearance alongside Ms. Jade on this cut from her Girl Interrupted album serving as further evidence. Produced by Timbaland, this joint is anchored by an epic stanza on the part of Hov, who turns in a performance that captures him at the height of his powers.
8. “Back In The Day”
A trip down memory lane is embarked upon on this twangy number from Missy Elliott’s Under Construction album. Produced by Elliott and Timbaland, with a pair of guest verses courtesy of JAY-Z, this tune finds the pair saluting legendary pioneers while paying homage to rap’s yesteryears.
9. “Wake Up”
JAY-Z teamed up yet again with Elliott for this heater from the latter’s 2003 release, This Is Not a Test! Produced by herself and Timbaland, the song marked the rapstress’ and Hov’s fourth collaboration to date, and served as a call to arms for the hip hop community.