Monday, March 11

The Jay Z Bracket

Yes, this is a Cleveland sports blog. And no, this post has zero relevance to anything like that. (There will be a Buckeyes piece post-Big Ten tourney, pre-NCAA tourney next week.) But this has been on my mind for years, and FCF seems like the best forum to do it. The greatest Jay Z songs of all-time - bracket style. If you are a Grantland follower, you may have seen this before, because they unknowingly stole this idea from me awhile ago, but my bracket is way better than theirs anyway. (Seriously, I thought this up way before they did.)

The plan is simple - find the greatest Jay Z song of all-time. The process is harder. Since it is March, instead of just making a list of my favorite songs, I put it in bracket form. The process involved tossing the 64 biggest HOV songs ever into a bracket. How I determined the seedings had nothing to do with my opinions, they were based on how popular the songs were. (I took into account Billboard's rankings, most grossing money, and just how often you hear them/people talking about them in general.) Once the bracket was set, then I just picked my personal favorites throughout, so I'm sure the readers of this will disagree vehemently. That is what makes lists like this fun - everyone has their own opinion.

I would like to point out that I honestly didn't know what I was going to have win it before I put this together and started moving things along. I kind of just went on my gut and went game-by-game. Also it is important to clarify that Jay had to be the featured artist on the song, meaning it had to come from one of his albums, not someone else's that he was in. So songs like "Get By," "Monster" and "Swagga Like Us" were not considered. But collaborations like anything on "Watch the Throne" count.

Enjoy and embrace the debate.

I jumped all over the 12's over 5's stereotype. I didn't do it on purpose, but it just so happened to work out that I chose all four 12 seeds. Lenny Kravitz absolutely kills it on the guitar in 'Guns and Roses'. Other than those twelves I went pretty chalk. The Blueprint III did really well, with 'So Ambitious' and 'Young Forever' being the biggest upsets of the round (13 over 4). My toughest call in this round was taking 'H-A-M' over 'Off That.'

Dropping Lenny and 'Guns and Roses' for 'PSA' was the toughest choice for me in this round. Blueprint III 13 seeds 'So Ambitious' and 'Young Forever' continue their Cinderella run with another win. "And when I reach the ledge I'll tell 'em all to eat a dick. Take a leap of faith and let my eagle wings spread." gets me every time. 6 seeded 'Girl's Best Friend' topped 'Dead Presidents II.' I'll never say anything negative about a Jigga song, but I feel like 'Dead Presidents' is pretty overrated if such a thing was possible. 'Niggas in Paris' overcame 'No Church in the Wild' in a battle of the Throne songs. The first high seed, #2 'Run This Town,' got bounced by 'OTIS.' I think 'OTIS' has two minutes of the hardest rapping ever created. There's a minute intro and minute outro to the the song and no hook. Kanye and Jigga just go back and forth and kill it.

It's getting down to the nitty-gritty at the Sweet 16, and two matchups in particular had me struggling. 'Public Service Announcement' and 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder' got dropped in favor of 'Hard Knock Life' and 'Big Pimpin',' respectively. Two very difficult decisions. I love me some Alicia Keys but 'Young Forever' continues it's VCU-like run into the Elite 8 by knocking out 1 seeded 'Empire.'

Three of these four were easy for me to put into the Final 4. '99 Problems' and 'Big Pimpin'' was the most difficult decision throughout the entire tournament. 'Pimpin' has the best line of the two with "Me give my heart to a woman? Not for nothin, never happen. I'll be forever mackin." But overall I have to give it to 'Problems.'

And it's 'Can I Get A...' as the winner. It was a tough call but the way I decided was to think about if I could only listen to one Hov song for the rest of my life what would it be, and I came up with this. I almost went against it considering Jay is only in a third of the song, but the one verse he does drop is the best 90 seconds of rap ever created. "Baby girl if this is so, yo - can I get a fuck you."


Andy said...

I can't believe you used a shot of Jay-Z with a yankees hat! ;) Boo!

'm not nearly as familiar with Mr. Carter's discogrpahy as you are, but I'd like to offer some comments.

- I'm docking "Guns n Roses" points for Lenny Kravitz's general lameness and for the entire backing track being Cake's "Arco Arena" with almost nothing added.

- In the 1st round, I was surprised to see 22 2's and "Girls Girls Girls" drop off. I especially like the "Girls" remix at the end of Blueprint.

- Kanye sucks. I just wanted to put that out there. I have never heard anything by that guy that I even sort-of like, and he seems like a jerk.

- "Empire" losing in the Sweet 16 might be the biggest upset of the tournament!

- I love that you named the Regions.

- My Final 4 would have been "99 Problems," "Can I Get A...", "Izzo," and, I don't know, not anything from the Jigga Region. "99 Problems" is my overall winner!

Figgs said...

My rebuttals...

- The Yankees hat picture may have been my worst decision in my history on this blog.

- Kravtiz does a phenomenal job on the guitar on that song.

- I just don't love the "Reasonable Doubt" album as much as most Hov enthusiasts do. "22 2's" has some fantastic one-liners, but overall it just doesn't get me.

- Kanye may be the world's biggest ass, but he kills it on Jigga songs. He significantly out-raps Jay on nearly every track on "Watch the Throne", which is ridiculous to even think about.

- It really hurt me to drop "Empire" because Alicia is my favorite female vocalist of all-time, but "Young Forever" just pulls at my heart strings.

- The regions needed to be named, I just couldn't think of a fourth nickname of him, so I thought 'Roc-A-Fella' was appropriate.

- I respect your pick of "99 Problems." It's a great song. Nothing from the Jigga Region? "Hard Knock Life" was the title of his third album, you can't deny X's barking on "Money, Cash, Hoes", and "PSA" won Grantland's entire tourney (albeit that was a retarded choice, but still).

Andy said...

All fair points, and I can't believe "PSA" won Grantland's version.

"Money, Cash, Hoes" was an accidental oversight by me - that's my choice from that region. In my defense, the resolution of the photos made it a little hard to read some of the text.

I liked your work on this exercise - I need to check out some of the top tracks you picked. Maybe I'll construct a Zeppelin or Nirvana version.

Figgs said...

I would love to see that. This took me an outrageously amount of time, and pretty much did it just for you.