AlbumS. Carter Collection
Label: Roc-A-Fella
Producer: Unknown
One the closing bars of the first verse on "Can I Live," Jay-Z vented about his lifestyle and dropped a couplet that summarized his worldview, "Viva Las Vegas, see ya later at the crap tables/Meet me by the one that starts a "G" up/This way no fraud willies present gambling they re-up/And we can have a pleasant time, sipping margaritas." In short, he was a baller for real, a Don. Not some wannabe, not some petty street thug who snatched purses or did hand to hand transactions. No, Jay was a refined gangster. Yet "This Life Forever" it's one of the rare instances of Jay getting down to the street level plotting on getting paper the same way any down and out, two-bit dealer knows all too well. Still, Jigga uses his wits on the second verse as he maneuvers between an extended chess metaphor that would make The GZA jealous. —Insanul Ahmed