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The Hits Collection - Volume One Explicit Lyrics

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4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 Nov. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Explicit Lyrics
  • Label: Mercury
  • ASIN: B003IMERYW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,751 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

CD Description

Brooklyn-born Sean Carter, AKA Jay-Z, the self styled 'best rapper alive' released his first album in 1996, and in the following 14 years sold more than 40 million records, won ten Grammy Awards and was the first hip-hop artist to headline the Glastonbury Festival. He was also the CEO of Def Jam records, launched his own clothing line and has had four Billboard Top 100 number ones. Hits Collection - Volume One spans his unique career and includes some of the biggest hip-hop anthems of all time, such as "99 Problems", "Hard Knock Life" and "New York State of Mind".

BBC Review

One of Jay-Z’s biggest UK hits, Empire State of Mind, possesses a title that can be taken different ways. It alludes to the rapper’s hometown, New York, a sing-along celebration of what its streets have to offer. But it also outlines the man’s commercial mindset. Rewind to 2001’s The Blueprint and he’s making a long-held business attitude clear: "I sell ice in the winter / I sell fire in Hell / I am a hustler baby / I’ll sell water to a well." This focus has rarely wavered since he set up his own label, Roc-A-Fella, in 1996.

What haven’t been quite as consistent since The Blueprint are Jay-Z’s long-players. 2003’s The Black Album, at the time purported to be his final release, was an award-winning mix of abrasive bangers and smooth hits. But it’s the exception, the rest of his 21st century collections only haphazardly rewarding (strong singles, but no little filler). So it’s odd that only one Blueprint track makes the cut on this fourth hits compilation, Izzo (H.O.V.A.), though "Volume One" suggests a sequel may include more.

While something from rightly revered 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt would have offered an interesting insight into rawer early material, the quality of what’s included here is high. It’s a neat summarisation of Jay-Z’s chart-dominating days, arranged to appeal to relative newcomers. The earliest track, Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem), might have irritated some back in 98, but it took its maker worldwide. It also illustrates, vividly, Jay-Z’s well-tuned ear for a crafty steal – a sample from the musical Annie, sitting high in the rap charts? Nobody saw that coming.

The harder beats of The Black Album’s 99 Problems and Dirt Off Your Shoulder (two of four from said LP) owe much to their respective producers, Rick Rubin and Timbaland. This is another area where Jay-Z has been savvy: high-profile collaborators have included The Neptunes, Kanye West, Dr Dre and Eminem. He might be one of the best lyricists around, but it’s the fine blend of MC and producer – and on-record guests – that’s seen Jay-Z ascend through the ranks, from Brooklyn’s Finest alongside The Notorious B.I.G. to globe-conquering hook-ups with Rihanna and Alicia Keys.

Braggadocio is prevalent in rap, but when Jay-Z adopts his big-man-on-campus swagger he’s got the sales to back it up. These 14 tracks are just a snapshot of what’s taken him this far, but every single one is essential to a story that shows no sign of stopping.

--Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Nobody is being misled here; this album does indeed contain all of Jay-Z's biggest hits. Unfortunately, 'greatest hits' doesn't always mean 'greatest songs', and that's why I can't recommend this too heartily. There's some fantastic tracks here, no doubt; '99 Problems' and 'Big Pimpin' have phenomenal beats courtesy of Rick Rubin and Timbaland, and Jay is spitting fire over them, and the likes of 'Izzo (H.O.V.A)' and 'Empire State Of Mind' are classics in their own right as well.

But this record just does not contain the best of Jay either musically or lyrically; there's nothing from Reasonable Doubt, arguably his best album - I'd argue that 'Can I Live', 'Can't Knock The Hustle' and 'D'Evils' are better than anything on here, for a start, especially lyrically where Jay is incredibly poetic rapping tales of coming up hustling on the streets. The Blueprint is barely represented either, when tracks like the emotional 'Song Cry' and the Nas-killing 'Takeover' represent jigga at his absolute best.

Obviously, it's a natural drawback for this sort of compilation that it's going to omit stuff, but when the drab R'n'B-lite songs such as 'Run This Town' and '03 Bonnie And Clyde' are making the cut, and completely classic tracks from his back catalogue are missing out it renders this compilation both incomplete and unrepresentative.

Sometimes you can recommend Greatest Hits albums as an introduction to the artist, but this doesn't even serve that purpose, as it just doesn't paint a proper picture of who Jay-Z is. For every radio hit on Jay's albums there's always three or four brilliant album tracks, with great sampling, great flow and great lyrics. At best, this is a good album for people who only like commercial music that's easy to consume and full of hooks. Otherwise, The Blueprint is a far better album both in content and cohesion, as is Reasonable Doubt and The Black Album, so buy one of those instead and make your way into Jay's catalogue that way.
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Format: Audio CD
All of the Jay-Z tracks you love and some you might have forgotten about. A great collection. If you're a fan of Shawn Carter or even if you just like a couple of his songs, this is a great addition to any CD collection.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is my first ever Jay-Z album and I have never been a Jay-Z fan in the past. Now I understand the hype behind the man as this album delivers some of his best tracks. Great rhyming and great music come together to make a great album. Doesn't get full 5 stars as some tracks I didn't like but the majority are nice.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is simply brilliant. If you ever wanted to buy just one Jay-Z album, this would be it! Some of his best tracks on one CD!
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Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
Great selection of classic songs. Reasonably priced MP3 album. No fillers, just winners. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who marginally likes Jay-Z
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From start to finish every track is bang on brilliant. if you you're a fan on Jay Z and you don't own all his records then this really is a must have
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great album, easy listening with a great messages being passed through. would highly recommend this album to anyone who's not been a fan before!
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Anyone who knows and enjoys a few of Jay-Z's better known hits will want to add this to their collection.
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