1. Jay-Z "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" (2001)
Album: The Blueprint
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Click Here to Listen
This moment paved the way for Kanye West to be the superstar he is today. The beat samples the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and effortless straddles between hip-hop, soul, and pop territories. The loop is masterful, and something that no other producer had previously thought to pull from Michael Jackson's oft-sampled catalog. Kanye gave Jay-Z something he'd never had before: a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has become so ubiquitous that it's easy to deny its impact over a decade later, but at the time, nothing sounded like it. Even to this day, after the track helped establish the sped-up sample as a significant tool of production, few similarly-styled beats can match the magic of "Izzo." The drums fit right in the pocket, the piano slide couldn't be placed more essentially, and the strings are infectious. It's the best beat Kanye has ever produced for another artist.