The 50 Best Storytelling Rap Songs

14. Jay-Z "Friend or Foe" (1996)

Album: Reasonable Doubt
Producer: DJ Premier
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Priority

"Friend or Foe" off Jay-Z's 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt starts off with Jay playing the role of a hotshot dealer g-checking a meddling stranger with the titular line "Friend or foe, state your biz." The rest of the song details Jay's quick-witted handling of the duo's very short rendezvous. Jay quickly pegs his visitor as a member of a rival crew rolling through unfamiliar territories without the proper manpower and, feeding off his adversary's shuddering nervousness, offers him a deal: give up his stash of drugs and leave with his health intact or try some slick shit and leave the spot full of holes like Swiss cheese. We didn't get the outcome until In My Lifetime, Vol. 1's "Friend or Foe '98" when Jay catches the same guy plotting a revenge hit in a room full of goons and kills him first.

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