Album: Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
Producer: Timbaland
Mid-song tempo changes have never been especially commonplace in hip-hop, but they're certainly more accepted now than at some points in the past, especially the late '90s and early 2000s (shout out to Lil Kim's "No Matter What They Say"). Even a creative weirdo like Timbaland would generally rock the same groove for a whole song, only tweaking the synths and samples while the drums remained fairly static. But the 6-minute epic towards the close of Vol. 3 threw all the rules out the window, starting with one funky beat for the first minute, and then dissolving into a dreamy interlude of bells and gongs, Jay taunting "come and get me!" though the haze. Then, a darker, more propulsive beat enters the picture, and he rants for a few more minutes about everyone from his old hood who's talking shit or planning to rob him. At one point, Jay compares himself to Bobby Boucher, the title character of Adam Sandler's then-recent hit The Waterboy, a line that may have made an impression on young Kanye West if "New Slaves" is any indication. —Al Shipley