Toppa Top 10: Jay-Z’s Most Jamaican Moments

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July 16, 2013

3. Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013)

Jay-Z’s Jamaican Moment: “Crown” samples Sizzla’s “Solid Like A Rock”; “Tom Ford” quotes Mavado’s “So Special”; “Versus” interpolates the Inspector riddim

The past few months have seen a serious infusion of dancehall into mainstream hip-hop. While new dancehall continues to evade the radar of U.S. DJs and tastemakers, rappers like Busta Rhymes and A$AP Ferg have tipped their hat to classic dancehall style, while Kanye West brought a bag of bashment samples with him to his Yeezus party. Not to be outdone by his friend and rival Mr. West, Jay-Z took a similar route on “Crown,” a spacious track which taps Sizzla’s “Solid As A Rock” for atmospherics.

The track’s producer, 16-year-old Wondagurl produced that song with a more noted reggae patron, Pusha T, in mind, after hearing his track “Blocka” with Popcaan and Travis Scott.ย  โ€œI was at home one day and I was looking for reggae samples,โ€ she said of its origination.

More subtle is Jay’s reference to one-time collaborator Mavado on “Tom Ford” as part of a dancehall-invoking (via Smif N Wessun) couplet: Hands down got the best flow, sound I’m so special/Sound boy burial.

Up for debate, meanwhile, is that “Versus,” as some dancehall aficionadoes have suggested, is a jack of DJ Karim’s Inspector riddim, from 2006. Listen to it here and decide for yourself.