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The 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Beats of All Time

54. Jay-Z "Jigga What, Jigga Who" (1998)

Producer: Timbaland
Album: Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

The trade-off for hip-hop heads who have to share Timbaland with R&B fans is that, at least for his peak in the late 90s and early 2000s, the producer was the king of reinventing himself. Each track was exceptional, a reimagining of the possibilities, from the urgency of “Is That Yo Bitch?” to the epic scope of Bubba Sparxxx’s “Nowhere.” His other major accomplishment was in how he approached rhythm; Timbo was one of the first to recognize that rather than being a formal defining characteristic of the genre, the breakbeat was holding the genre back. There’s no better example than the spastic “Jigga What, Jigga Who,” a song that plays with syncopation and is as concerned with negative space as filling it. It was this production that made an art out of sculpting rhythm, challenging Jay and Jaz-O to continually top themselves with patterns and variety. There were few rappers who could have handled such an unpredictable canvas.

Tags: jay_z, timbaland
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