Perhaps the most underrated part of this quarantine so far has been the random Instagram live hit battles. We had Scott Storch vs. Mannie Fresh. Babyface vs. Teddie Riley. I guess Tory Lanez and French Montana? I must have missed that one.
But the most epic, non existent battle happened in my head after someone threw this hypothetical out there.
20 songs, Hit for Hit …. No bias … who y’all got? pic.twitter.com/7uHKfeC1YM
— † Low Soul † (@Loso__official) April 21, 2020
What an internal struggle. I’m sure many rap hipsters are like:
but if we are talking HITS, I couldn’t declare a clear winner from the gut. Jay-Z and Drake are my #2 and #3 favorite rappers of all time. So I figured if I’m going to pay $9.99/month for Spotify Premium I’d put it through some work. Thank god Jay-Z put his music back there because I wasn’t paying for TIDAL for a blog.
Let’s remember this conversation is about hits only. I’m not saying who is a better rapper, who has the better career or who has the cuter kid (very tough decision). With such an expansive repertoire from both of these heavyweights, here’s how I would break it down if I could set up a round by round drag out fight.
Technical Biggest “Hit” Song:
I’m going by the music industry’s bible for declaring hits, Billboard. By the numbers, Drake holds the record for most hot 100 hits of all time with 209. Jay-Z holds the record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200, with 14.
Drake – One Dance
I don’t have the official numbers in front of me but from what I can gather One Dance is still Drake’s best selling single. The only non-explicit song on Views. At one point it was the #1 song ever listened to on Spotify, One Dance was an international hit. It’s hard to see past our little United States bubble, because to me One Dance isn’t in the top 10 of Drake songs. That’s what’s so dangerous about Drake in this battle. His commercial hits aren’t even his best hits.
Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind
Empire State of Mind is Jay-Z’s most commercially successful song of his career. While Alicia Keys is the most iconic 3 words on Jay-Z’s greatest hit, this song is a monster. He created a song to hype up his entire city–this song isn’t just a Jay-Z hit, it’s an anthem.
Round 1: Jay-Z
Songs With Their BFFs:
Jay-Z – Ni**as in Paris, Otis, Brooklyn’s Finest, 03 Bonnie and Clyde, Crazy In Love, Drunk In Love, being generally in love with Beyonce
It’s not really fair for us to include songs that belong to Beyonce on this list. You could swap Jay-Z for Sean Kingston on Crazy in Love and it’s just as big a hit. To me that’s not a fair advantage that somehow, someway, someone that looks like Jay-Z could have Beyonce as a musical and life partner. So Beyonce centric songs aside, Jay-Z’s biggest partner in crime and in music is obviously Kanye West. Could have been a different story if we never lost Biggie, and if we could swap him for Kanye at this point most of us probably would. Knows how to make a hit though, and a handful were with his BFF Jay before he went off the deep end.
Drake – The Motto, Right Above It, Forever, Only, Truffle Butter, I’m On One, Miss Me, Life Is Good, Jumpman
If Drake had to play MFK with his best friends, he marries Lil Wayne, fucks Future and probably kills his producer 40. There is not a single song that features Drake and Wayne that is not a smash. This could be some of my bias coming in here but they are musical soulmates.
Round 2: Drake. Sorry Beyhive, I don’t pick against Lil Wayne.
Songs for the Ladies:
Drake – Hold On, We’re Going Home, Marvin’s Room, Nice For What, Hotline Bling
If women controlled the decision in this battle, Drake would win in a landslide. Honestly when Drake’s making music I think he consciously decides to sprinkle in songs that the ladies are going to love. Drake may not be the best rapper of all time, but he’s extremely versatile. And any guy that tries to say they don’t fuck with Hold On, We’re Going Home is a liar.
Jay-Z – Excuse Me Miss, I Just Wanna Love U, Suit & Tie, Frontin, Change Clothes
Pharrell certainly knows how to get the 90s women weak in the knees. That collection of songs is so sexy. Drake isn’t the only well-rounded one–Jay-Z knows the importance of getting his grown and sexy on. One of the only ways I can see Beyonce falling for this is from listening to I Just Wanna Love U on repeat.
Round 3: Drake. Guys, don’t be mad but the women will agree. Sorry it’s unfair you can’t vote in this category. Must suck.
Songs with Rihanna:
Jay-Z – Run This Town, Umbrella, Talk That Talk
Jay-Z technically is the one responsible for bringing Rihanna into our lives, so it’s no surprise that he made that known on some of her biggest hits. Really going hit for hit against Riri would be just as tough as a matchup for either one. Umbrella has got to be one of the biggest songs of all time. Probably bigger than any other Drake or Jay song on this list. When you’ve got Beyonce as your wife and Rihanna as your protege, you’re bound to stumble into a few hits.
Drake – Work, Take Care, What’s My Name, Too Good
If Jay-Z gets credit for discovering Rihanna, Drake gets credit for banging her. The music video for this song was like porn for me. In the teenage years we had Justin and Britney, and in my adult life it is Rihanna and Drake. Personal feelings aside, try getting Work unstuck from your head after hearing it one time. The only reason I know the square root of 69 is because of these two collaborating.
Round 4: Push. Picking a favorite Rihanna song is like picking a favorite child. I genuinely think it’s even.
Best Instagram-worthy Song:
Jay-Z – 99 Problems
Before he was making anthems for the city of New York, Jay-Z was writing one liners that would inspire a generation of men across the world who have crazy ex-wives. “I’ve got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” will be in our lexicon for decades and decades. If you walk up to anyone on the street and start the lyric, deport anyone that can’t finish it.
Drake – The Motto
Never has anyone called their shot as much as Drake did naming this song The Motto. YOLO is truly a lot of functioning adults actual motto. How many people do you think have YOLO lower lip tattoos? YOLO merch has to be the best selling acronym merch of all time. The motto became a movement, all because of Drake.
Round 5: Drake. Way more people in Florida have YOLO tattoos.
Drake – Best I Ever Had
Even as a Degrassi fan we truly didn’t know Drake until Best I Ever Had. I’d consider adding “you can have my heart or we can share it like the last slice” in my wedding vows. It was the perfect hit to introduce Drake to the world, and it’ll always be a classic.
Jay-Z – Big Pimpin’
Don’t get me wrong, Jay-Z had plenty of hits before Big Pimpin’ was released in 2000, but this was his coming out party to mainstream music. It took Jay-Z from Brooklyn to Hollywood. 2000’s rap isn’t a thing without Big Pimpin’. UGK always slaps.
Round 6: Jay-Z. If you put Big Pimpin’ on at any party everyone is now having a good time.
The Meat of Their Resumes:
Drake – In My Feelings, God’s Plan, Trophies, 0 to 100, Headlines, Back 2 Back, Started From The Bottom, Toosie Slide, Successful, Fuckin’ Problems, HYFR
Once you start getting into the nitty gritty of these two libraries, things start getting real dicey. Back 2 Back was written as a Meek Mill response diss track and it got nominated for a Grammy. If we had a category for most public rap battle, Drake is the only one that came out with the W. It’s one of my favorite songs in his catalog because of how smart it is. If Drake uses ghostwriters, he should give them a raise. In My Feelings is a viral dancing challenge (you can add Nonstop too) that had everyone from Ryan Seacrest to Russell Wilson dancing into oncoming traffic.
These are all songs I’ll be singing along to with my grandkids in the car. They’ve been played in major sports stadiums, on TV commercials and tik tok videos.
Jay-Z – Dirt of Your Shoulder, Dead Presidents, Izzo (H.O.V.A), Can I Get A…, Numb/Encore, Hard Knock Life, Young Forever, Encore, Girls, Girls, Girls, Song Cry, Renegade, Money Ain’t A Thing, Feelin It, Can I Live
These hits span decades. Almost every one of these songs is associated with an instant memory of where I was in my life when I listened to it. Only Jay-Z could bring Linkin Park into rap. Before people were doing the Keke challenge, they were brushing dirt off their shoulder. Sampling a song from Annie? smh.
Round 7: I really don’t know if I can make the decision. That’s how close this battle is for me. My heart says Drake and my head says Jay-Z wins this round. I’ll pick Jay-Z just so I can get out of making this decision.
Absolutely cannot decide.
What do you think? Listen to the entire playlist here: