Today (December 4) marks the 45th birthday of the best rapper alive! Who are we talking about exactly? None other than Shawn Corey Carter, a.k.a Jay Z. The rapper turned legendary entertainer has had an extensive and inspirational career that began with the 1996 release of his debut LP — Reasonable Doubt.
Since then, all of his albums went on to reach platinum status or more and he has established himself as more than a rapper — but as a business, man. Everyone is aware of Jay Z’s best songs, yet what is a good single without an awesome video to go along with it?
Take a look back at 10 of Jigga’s most iconic videos from his lengthy visual discography, from the mid-’90s until now.
10. “Can’t Knock The Hustle” (1996)
This was one of Hov’s main introduction to the mainstream world, and he did it with a classy (but still gangster) black + white visual.
9. “Picasso Baby” (2013)
The visual for “Picasso Baby” was admirable because it wasn’t just a music video. Instead, the rapper turned the song into his own performance art film. How innovative is that?
8. “Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)” (1999)
Next on the list is 1999’s “Nigga What, Nigga Who” featuring Amil and Big Jaz. It may seem like an odd choice at first, but when looking back at the video it was ahead of its time. With the curve of the New Millennium approaching, this video predicted the futuristic styles before it even happened — which is pretty cool.
7. “Excuse Me Miss” (2003)
This video showed just how much swagger (and money) Jay Z had. It is smooth, lush, slightly romantic and just damn rich! Like he said, “it’s only for the grown and sexy.”
6. “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” (2002)
Next up was the unofficial introduction of the couple that was Jay Z and Beyonce. They hadn’t revealed their status at the time, but the ride-or-die chemistry in this video was undeniable.
5. “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” 2000
This video is just pure fun, thanks to the celebrity cameos (hey, Lil Kim!) and the party atmosphere. The visuals all tie in with the bouncy song.
4. “Big Pimpin'” (2000)
Let’s be honest, who didn’t want to fly to Trinidad for carnival after watching the “Big Pimpin” video? This video was ultra-sexy and found the rapper at his most braggadocio state. Plus, the features from Pimp C (R.I.P.) and Bun B made it all the more epic.
3. “Run This Town” (2009)
This video highlighted the power of the Roc Nation clique before 2012’s “Clique” even dropped! With Kanye West and Rihanna by his side, Jay Z’s powerful status is escalated to the greatest heights — which had many people whispering about illuminati rumors. But forget all that, and remember how bad-ass the trio appeared.
2. “Otis” (2011)
What could make a better video than showing two of the world’s biggest rappers acting like rowdy teenagers? With 2011’s “Otis,” Hova and ‘Ye looked like they were having the time of their lives. They even chopped up a Maybach 27, who even does that? The Throne, that’s who! It is always great to see just how strong their friendship is.
1. “99 Problems” (2004)
Capping off this list is the video that everyone still has embedded in their minds, even 10 years later. Who could forget the martyr-like image of Jay Z getting shot at the end? The black + white Mark Romanek-directed clip showcases the gritty, dark parts of the hood. Looking back, it is incredible how both the visual and the lyrics still relate to worldly topics of today.
What is your favorite video from Hova? Let us know in the comments below!