Lyric: 18-karat gold pen, when it hits the sheets, words worth a million like I’m rapping them through platinum teeth
Song: JAY-Z – “Cashmere Thoughts”
Album: Reasonable Doubt (1996)
Background: JAY-Z’s storied rap career as both a top tier MC and iconic business mogul is the stuff of legend. In observing all of Hov’s achievements, all roads point back to his seminal debut album, Reasonable Doubt, a landmark record for East Coast hip-hop that embodied the mafioso ethos which fueled many of New York’s great rap releases in the 1990s. By no means the new kid on the block (JAY-Z had a longstanding reputation as both a street hustler and battle rapper by the time he released an album), Reasonable Doubt instantly solidified Jay’s larger-than-life gangster persona as the real deal. Backed by lush boom-bap soundscapes, as eerie and menacing as they are luxurious, Hov’s unmatched braggadocio, elite pen skills and likeness for slick double entendres set the bar for one of hip-hop’s most illustrious careers.