The BIG List: Rap’s 30 Most Powerful Album Intros (#26 – 25)
#26: Memphis Bleek
“Intro: Hand It Down” on Jay-Z’s Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life (1998)
Today, we know Bleek is still—and probably always will be—one elusive hit away from superstardom. But you couldn’t tell us that Bleek wouldn’t blow up back in ’98 when he hopped on the intro track on Hov’s third album. Yes, it technically goes against the rules we laid out in the intro (no skits!), but this was Bleek annihilating a verse over a DJ Premier beat—on an album that wasn’t even his! So we had to let this one slide (plus, without that Pain In Da Ass explanation, would Bleek’s participation have made any sense at all?).
“Queens Get The Money,” from Untitled (2008)
If Nas hadn’t led off his debut, Illmatic, with a skit on “The Genesis,” then “New York State of Mind” would be a no-brainer here. That said, he did do that, so we’ll select another masterpiece featuring the Queens rapper paying his respects to NYC and sniping his borough brother 50 Cent with some subliminals (“Hiding behind 8 Mile and The Chronic/Gets rich, but dies rhyming/this is high science… Now that’s 50 porch monkeys ate up at the same time”). Over production from Jay Electronica, a relative newcomer at the time, Nas got Nasty again.