jay-z

Happy Hovember: An Essential JAY-Z Playlist

November is the month for showing thanks. Hovember is the month to celebrate the one and only Hov. No, it’s not his birthday, we all know that’s “December 4th.” 

However, of JAY-Z’s thirteen albums, five of them–In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse, The Black Album, Kingdom Come, and American Gangster–have been released in November, so Hovember seems so fitting. But Hovember doesn’t start on November 1st. It starts on the 4th, which not only marks the first day of the month that JAY dropped an album in November, it’s also day that he dropped his first album in November, his sophomore album, In my Lifetime, Vol. 1. (His debut album, Reasonable Doubt, came out on June 25, 1996, before he became fourth quarter Hov.) Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of Vol. 1. and tomorrow brings the 10th anniversary of American Gangster.

While Vol. 1 isn’t one of his most critically acclaimed albums, it did give us “Imaginary Players,” a track where over a smooth R&B beat, JAY talks shit while giving us more than enough reasons as to why he’s the original and others (Ma$e, allegedly) were simply carbon copies:

“Y’all want to take my flow, and run with it,” he rhymes. “That’s cool, I was the first one with it.” 

And we can’t forget the hilarious dialogue towards the end of the track.

Despite the mixed reviews of Vol. 1, there were still plenty of cuts worthy of praise like “Streets Is Watching”, “Where I’m From”, the chilling “You Must Love Me”, “Lucky Me” and that unforgettable DJ Premier intro “A Million And One/Rhyme No More” mashup.

Over 20 years later, JAY is still capable of dropping classics, and 4:44 is one of his best yet.

To make sure you’re fully equipped for Hovember, check out our JAY-Z By the Numbers piece below and dive into the this 65 track playlist from one of hip hop’s GOATs. Throw your diamonds up, and celebrate wisely.

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