During a 2006 AOL fan chat, Jay-Z said, "Right now, I don't have a favorite rapper, but right now, I'm listening to Lil Wayne and T.I."
Four years later, at an event promoting his book Decoded, someone stepped up to ask Jay to pick his top five, dead or alive (excluding himself). He chose Biggie first. "Well, I guess I would choose him because of his ability to tell stories, to be humorous, to be dead serious. He just had it all," Jay said. "I would choose 'Pac because his fire will overcome. What he doesn't have in technical skills will be overcome by passion. If you listen to that 'Tunnel' verse where Big is saying 'MC Hammer and them 357 women' and then you hear how ['Pac] comes on, he just screams on the track, like his passion could put a lot of guys to sleep." Kool G Rap, KRS-One, Eminem, and Nas also made his roster.