The Best Jay Z and Pharrell Williams Collaborations of All Time
With all of the hype surrounding Jay Z's album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, and the amazing production credits, it's only right to highlight his collaborations with the one person who never lets him down: Skateboard P. Jay Z and Pharrell have been frequent collaborators for over a decade now, and they have made endless hits with one another. It's kind of like a Shaq and Kobe combination. It all started on Jay Z's album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia and it's been history ever since. As a matter of fact, Pharrell has contributed to every Jay Z album since, with the exception of The Blueprint.
Their latest collaboration, "BBC," on Magna Carta Holy Grail inspired me to create this list. In my opinion, it's the worst Jay Z and Pharrell collaboration. Now before you get your trousers in a bunch, I'm not saying that the track is bad, but they've done better. I took the time to find every track from the two and narrowed it down to a list of 10. So, without further ado ladies and gentlemen, here are the ten best Jay Z and Pharrell collaborations of all time.
P.S. The list is in no particular order.
“Change Clothes” (2003)
This was the first single off what was supposed to be Jay Z’s retirement album, The Black Album. It’s a fun, uptempo track with a beat that could be categorized as pop and hip hop. You can throw this on in a room full of males and females, and everyone can vibe to it. The guys can even sing along without being looked at funny. “Change Clothes” is definitely one of the more successful songs Jay and Pharrell have ever done. Even though it’s a commercial track, it’s still dope and timeless. You can’t deny that!
"I Just Wanna Love You (Give It To Me)" (2000)
It all started with this one, the first of many hits. Not only was "I Just Wanna Love You" the first collaboration between Jay Z and Pharrell, but it was also the first Jay Z track to hit #1 on the Billboard charts . There was a point in 2000 that you couldn't even turn on the radio without hearing this track. Pharrell's crooning on the hook is catchy, and made the song even more memorable. Everyone from grandmothers to little kids were going around saying "I'm a hustler baby!" The first time is always special, and that definitely applies in this situation.
"Blue Magic" (2007)
Hov has came a long way since his drug dealing days, but in "Blue Magic" he paints a vivid picture of a hustler's tale and lets you know that he hasn't forgot where he came from. It's a perfect fit for the theme of the American Gangster album.
Pharrell and Chad keep the beat simple, utilizing drums while staying true to that "Neptunes" sound with the synths. The phrase "less is more" definitely sums up this track. They didn't do too much, and that's what makes this song so ill.
"Gotta Have It" (2011)
When Jay and 'Ye dropped Watch the Throne in 2011, they set the bar for how rap albums should really sound during that time period. It seemed as if it was almost effortless for them. Of course they brought Pharrell in for a track, because, as you know, what would any project that's associated with Jay be without some production from him? It wouldn't be right at all. Pharrell changed up his formula a little bit with production on "Gotta Have It." As most of us know, Pharrell barely uses samples on his tracks, you can probably count on one hand how many times he has. Just to prove that it's nothing, he flipped a James Brown sample and killed it!
Jay Z and Kanye traded bars over this amazing production and it turned out to be one of the highlight tracks on the album. How can someone dislike this song?
“Excuse Me Miss” (2002)
2002 was the first year that Jay Z had the hottest chick in the game wearing his chain, so it's obvious who he made this one for. Most can agree that The Blueprint 2 is not one of Jay's stronger albums, but it has a few cuts that you get down to. The Neptunes cooked up a rather smooth beat for "Excuse Me Miss" so Jay could get his get his grown man on. According to Hov himself, this track is so smooth, "you can't even roll a blunt to [it], you gotta puff a J."
An interesting fact about this track is that it was Pharrell's first solo single. Everyone was used to hearing him on the hooks of tracks but this song came as a surprise to many. It was featured The Neptunes' compilation album Clones. I'm not sure how other people received Pharrell's singing, it's almost as if he's whining, but I think it's dope. Jigga's two cents add that extra dose of dopiness.
“Fuck All Nite” (2002)
The Neptune production is more present on The Blueprint 2 than any other Jay Z album. This particular track has many elements of disco but Jay Z still manages to keep it all the way hip hop. That's one of beauties of Jay Z and Pharrell collaborations, they bring something different to the table every time. I'd have to say that "Fuck All Nite" is the most unique collaboration out of them all.
“La-La-La (Excuse Me Miss Again)” (2003)Although it isn't as popular as "Excuse Me Miss," the remix is much more up-beat. Unlike the original, which has an intimate feel, "La-La-La (Excuse Me Miss Again)" makes you want to get up off your feet, nod your head, and maybe even bust a little two-step. Pharrell and Chad got busy on the keys and synths, Jay went in as usual, and Pharrell added adlibs throughout the whole song. Overall, it's a great remix. I think this version is actually better than the original version but both were dope.
“So Ambitious” (2009)
Pharrell's opened this song by saying "three in the morning, on the West Side Highway, top down baby" and that's the feeling that "So Ambitious" captures. You can listen to this track on repeat and never get tired of it, it's that real. The message of the song is positive and the production is incredible. This could definitely be considered one of The Neptunes' best beats to date, but we'll leave that argument for another time.
Even though most of this list was in no specific order, this is the last song for a reason. In my opinion, this is the greatest Jay Z and Pharrell collaboration, hands down. It was the perfect track and it summed up the occasion (which was supposed to be Jay Z's retirement). You know how movies always have that "perfect ending"? Well "Allure" is that perfect ending. It's the second to last track on The Black Album, and sort of like the icing on the cake. Pharrell took all of the elements that he's known for and combined them into one beat: keys, chords, and heavy synths. It turned out to be one of Jay Z's greatest lyrical performances of all time.
The story of how this song was put together is pretty interesting as well. Check the footage out above.
Send all of your hate mail to Jeff Lockhart on Twitter at Nastradamus J.