Excuse Me Miss: 5 Divas Who Benefitted From A Jay-Z Verse
Jay-Z has always been pretty picky when it comes to collaborations. That’s because since he first emerged on the scene two decades ago, he knew his value right off the bat. Hov is never an accessory, he’s always the complete outfit — the main event, if you will. That’s why when an artist is lucky enough to score a Jay-Z feature, it’s kind of a big deal. Look at J. Cole, who dropped his first album Cole World: The Sideline Story two years ago: All everyone wanted to know was “will Jay-Z be featured?” In fact, that’s a question most people ask when approaching any album these days.
Let’s be real here though: Jay-Z hops on a fellow bro’s track much faster than a girl’s. Sure, he has some favorite ladies to collaborate with (shout out to King Bey), but, really, spotting Jay-Z on a diva’s track is super rare. When he does show up for the occasion, that makes its value go way up, thereby providing some career-changing results once the song releases. We’ve found five instances where a Jay-Z verse on a female track has helped the artist and/or song. From collaborations with his own wife Beyonce to the legendary Sade, Jay-Z changes lives. Check out a few of the ladies he’s worked with.
Beyonce featuring Jay-Z, “Crazy In Love” (2003) Jay-Z and Beyonce have collaborated a number of times on a variety of tracks, including the 2003 anthem “Bonnie & Clyde,” where Jay interpolated Tupac Shakur’s ode to his gun (“Me & My Girlfriend”) and flipped the script to make it a love song. That same year Bey released “Crazy In Love,” and something happened. Sure, with “Bonnie & Clyde” we saw that gangster and his ride-or-die chick moment where people were still speculating if Hov and Bey were an item. “Crazy In Love” broke down Jay-Z’s rugged exterior, as he dedicates his entire verse to wooing Beyonce as she woos right back. Bey arguably brought out the best in Jay, but he helped her, too, by unleashing a sexy side of her (check the visuals for the rump shaking), while simultaneously finding a channel for her romanticisms. She finally had a muse in her love songs, and it was Shawn Corey Carter. Awwwww.
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, “Umbrella” (2007) Some drastic changes happened to Rihanna in 2007. She was still surfing the wave of her previous Caribbean riddims, but nothing major was happening. Then Jay-Z entered her life. After declaring Rihanna the “Black Madonna” and inviting her to join the 2.0 of his Roc regime, he turned the Bajan beauty’s life around. “Umbrella” was the catalyst. Penned by The-Dream, “Umbrella” became Rihanna’s call to action. She chopped off all of her hair and Jay-Z officially named her the “good girl gone bad” (also the title of her breakout album) as he opened his verse on the hit single. The song/video ultimately set the stage for what would be the second chapter of Rihanna’s career. Everyone knew that RiRi had star potential; she just didn’t know how to express it properly. Jay-Z did, and Rihanna’s life was changed.
Sade featuring Jay-Z, “The Moon And The Sky (Remix)” (2011) Okay, so the knee-jerk reaction to a collaboration like this would be “Hey hey hey! Sade OBVIOUSLY helped Jay-Z by letting him on this remix.” Sure, that’s definitely true. Sade Adu is a living legend and when she’s flanked by Sweetback, magic happens. However, “The Moon And The Sky” was a comeback record of sorts for Sade. The group had a gigantic catalog that achieved worldwide adoration from fans. However, like with any stars, their light starts to fade. In order to evolve, they have to keep making music for the masses. What Jay-Z did by hopping on this remix was bridge the gap between Sade fans and Jay-Z fans. The two probably meet at certain soulful intersections, but Jay-Z combined two worlds that were previously only acquaintances of one another. His heartfelt verse proved his respect for the track he was assisting, and the result is a delightful union of two worlds.
Foxy Brown featuring Jay-Z, “I’ll Be” (1997) In order for Foxy Brown to have achieved a modicum of the mainstream success she achieved, “I’ll Be” had to have happened. It was Foxy’s first Top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and the song opened so many doors for the Brown Fox. Hov and Fox had previously collaborated on the song “Ain’t No N***a,” but clearly that one couldn’t reach mainstream radio for the title alone. “I’ll Be” had something special going on, where Foxy and Jay played off each other on the track, going toe-to-toe lyrically. It showed the world what Foxy Brown was made of, while displaying the glowing recommendation from Jay-Z on the hook. He even lends a few bars, but lets Foxy Brown be the star of the show. By doing that, he thrust her into a world she probably never dreamed of entering. The one of stardom. So where is she now? Well, let’s not focus on all of that.
Mariah Carey featuring Jay-Z, “Heartbreaker” (1999) The evolution of Mimi has been a long and arduous one. Mariah Carey has undergone a number of diva transformations before settling into this Mrs. Cannon role she’s fully comfortable with now. When Carey was first dipping her pedicured toe into the hip-hop pool, the climb was difficult. It took a Jay-Z cameo for things to finally break through, and the result was “Heartbreaker.” Not only was it MC’s first rap-featured commercial single, but it also set the stage for the world experience a rejuvenated Mariah Carey who enjoys the b-boys as much as she enjoys the Burberry. Mariah no longer had to sit on one side of the fence to express herself musically, and she had Jay-Z to thank for that.