1. Jay-Z f/ Notorious B.I.G. "Brooklyn's Finest" (1996)
Everything. It has everything. The Carlito's Way interpolation that's a seventh-inning stretch of hip-hop, church-bells to Brooklyn rap: (DUNDUNDUNDUNDUN. CHIK-CHIC.) "OKAY! I'M RELOADED! You motherfuckers, think you big time? Fuckin' with Jay-Z, you gon' die, BIG TIME. Here come the pain!" (BOOM! BOOM BOOM!)
And then, the now-legendary Clark Kent beat—constructed with part "Brooklyn Zoo", part Ohio Players' "Ecstasy", all shimmering New York City noir sheen—moves onto the track, and Jay-Z starts in, rhyming about his style, the ways cops and feds sweat him, and dice games, and Jay's first bars end, and Biggie picks up right where he left off, and ends his first bar with shooting your daughter in her calf muscle and sprinkling coke on the scene. That's not even a full minute in.
Don't get us wrong, hearing Jay and Big on the same track is nothing short of amazing, every time, like a Marvel Comics What If of rap superheroes come to life. But that chorus, dear god, that chorus. DJ Clark Kent shouting into the mic, the words anyone from the borough should have stamped on their residency forms: "Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls, ni**a shit your drawers/Where you from?/Brooklyn, going out for all/Marcy—that's right—you don't stop/Bed-Stuy/You won't stop, ni**a!" Anywhere else, the scatological humor would be downright weird, but under the mastery herein, it's one of the borough's great rallying cries, totaling up to a song that more than lives up to its grandiose name.
In other words, "Brooklyn's Finest" indeed. —Foster Kamer
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