Album: The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
Producer: Kanye West

The Blueprint 2 was a mixed bag, but its best tracks remain some of the most slept-on in Jay-Z's catalog. "Poppin' Tags" featured an unusually breezy, deft Kanye West beat that proved a perfect complementary canvas for dexterous double-time flows from Jay-Z, Twista, Killer MIke, and Big Boi. While producers at this time had begun to jack Kanye's style, swiping soul beats to lather on nostalgia, 'Ye flipped the script; "Poppin Tags" uses samples to compete on Timbaland's terrain, aiming for a vaugely exotic flute-and-bongos-driven beat that made the rapper's rapid-fire deliveries seem effortless. The fact that this was never released as a single is unfortunate, because with a lineup like this (in the lead-up to the release of OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below no less) it seems unfathomable that "Poppin' Tags" would remain buried as an album track on one of Jay's more ignored efforts. —David Drake