Shawn Corey Carter. God MC. Hov. Young Turbo. Blue Ivy’s dad has dropped a lot of nicknames and knowledge over the years, primarily through a single track on every album that re-examines past mistakes. All true Jay fans knows these are his “introspective tracks.” An rare peak at the man that’s more than the “flashy n***a, bragging on the song.” The formula is regret + reference to mom/slow tempo = vulnerable Jigga.

JAY-Z recently re-added the hyphen to his moniker and decided to go ALL CAPS. But besides spelling his name like an angry text (ironic since he just launched a deal with Sprint) yesterday he dropped a sample of “Adnis” from his upcoming 4:44 album. The snippet is dedicated to his absentee father, Adnis Reeves, who left the family when Carter was young, as mentioned on “December 4th” from The Black Album (2001). 

With its eerie keys, and stripped down production, “Adnis” will join the long line of self-reflective classics. 

Here’s the top 5, so far.

5. This Can’t be Life / Roc La Familia / 2000

Beans, Face, and Jay are a superteam. “Guess Whose Back” is the ’96 Bulls of the trio’s efforts, but this is a close second. This is the Jay Kanye wanted for “Izzo” but alas, we have to dig through the crates Youtube to get this banger from “Roc La Familia”

Obligatory mom lyric: “Shit, I’m going through it, mom dukes too/Tears streamin down her pretty face, she got her palms to it”

4. December 4th / The Black Album / 2003

The prequel to “Adnis.” People who aren’t Jay fans don’t understand why we love him so much. Songs like this are the reasons why. He gives us that free joint of vulnerability to go with the ounce of hardcore rap on the rest of the album. 

Obligatory mom lyric: “That was the day Gloria Carter and Adnis Reeves/ made love under that sycamore tree, which makes me, a more sicker MC” very sick indeed.

3. American Gangster (the whole album) / 2006

Face it, we thought Jiggaman was done. We didn’t LOVE Kingdom Come. Dale Earnhardt and Budweiser? It’s like, “c’mon ni**a” but just as we thought it was all love letters and marketing he dropped an autobiographical masterpiece. A very mature Reasonable Doubt. He couldn’t say he sells crack anymore, because we all knew how corporate he was by that point. But with each song, he took us on a magic carpet ride through the sky, er, hood.

2. “Lost One” / Kingdom Come / 2004

JAY-Z and Beyoncé like to play this game with our emotions, where they make us think they broke up. Usually it’s the other persons fault, and we, per usual, pick a side, based on where our loyalties are. it started with this song.

*Lemonade video drops*
Your Girl: Jay Z stupid! How can he cheat on Beyoncé? AND he got a “Becky with the good hair”

You: I mean, we haven’t heard his side

Your girl: ni**a please

But in 2003, we DID hear his side when he gave us this obligatory (Blue Ivy’s mom) line… 

“Cause what she prefers over me is work/And that’s where we differ/So I have to give her free time, even if it hurts”

This is pre-Lemonade, Lemonade. That’s a cold second verse, and it’s aimed directly at Queen Bey. *sips iced tea*

1. Regrets / Reasonable Doubt / 1996

This is where it all began. A product of Marcy Projects let us know it’s not all Crystal and gold BBS rims. This is the orifgin story of introspective rap. Not certain if the story is real or a good use of artistic license, Hov lays down a tale of mistrust as a drug deal goes left. As the “windows to his soul are half closed, I put the key in.” You know Jay is in deep thought when his moms makes it on the record. 

Obligatory mom lyric: “You used to hold me, told me that I was the best/anything in this world I want, I could possess.” Cheers to the best.

4.44 drops June, 30th.