Who is Jay-Z
Through his incredible talent and marvelous power moves, Jay-Z managed to get himself to a level, which other rappers can envy and dream about. His financial success can only serve us as an example for the ambition and the burning desire to reach one’s full potential. Jay-Z, born in Marcy Project, found it hard to get signed to any label in the beginning of his career, but that didn’t stop him. He got introduced to Damon Dash and they founded Roc-A-Fella Records-their own record label, via which they were planning to produce, distribute and sell Jay-Z’s music. His high end maneuvers in the music business equate to the intricacy of the rhyme schemes employed in his lyrics. His wordplay is legendary. The complex way he uses double meanings and metaphors is spectacular. Jay-Z has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. He was ranked #1 by MTV in their list of The Greatest MCs of All-Time in 2006 and if I have to mention all of his EMMY and Grammy awards and nominations, you’d quit reading right now. Jay-Z is one of the greatest rappers to ever touch the microphone. That’s why RappingManual.com decided to analyze his rhyme schemes style.

Song Material
In order to evaluate and analyze the rapping techniques of Jay-Z, we need to select one of his songs. This song would be the source of our analysis, since it is the place where he showcases his intricate rhyme schemes and advanced wordplay. I will choose one of my favorite songs that Jay-Z has created, called โ€œDead Presidents IIโ€.

Verse Extraction
The verse is the part of the song which contains all the rhyme schemes and flow diagrams that the rapper is using. It’s where he showcases his rapping skills. In order to be able to emulate Jay-Zโ€™s rapping style, you have to analyze his lyrics and decode his rhyme schemes and delivery patterns. Extracting and analyzing a verse is the most effective way to do this. I will pick the first verse.
JayZ-Dead Presidents Lyrics.

Ahh, who wanna bet us that we don’t touch leathers Stack
cheddars forever, live treacherous all the et ceteras,
To the death of us me and my confidants we
shine You feel the ambiance y’all niggaz just rhyme,

By the ounce dough accumulates like snow, We don’t just
shine, we illuminate the whole show, you feel me,
Factions from the other side would love to kill me Spill
three quarts of my blood into the street let alone the heat,

Fuck em we hate a nigga lovin this life,
In all possible ways know the Feds is buggin my life,
Hospital days reflectin when my man laid up, On the
Uptown high block he got his side sprayed up, I saw his

life slippin, this is a minor set back Yo
still in all we livin, just dream about the get back That made him
smile though his eyes said “Pray for me”,
I’ll do you one better and slay these niggaz faithfully, Murder

is a tough thing to digest, it’s a slow
process, and I ain’t got nothin but time, I had
near brushes, not to mention, three shots close
range, never touched me, divine intervention Can’t

stop I from drinkin Mai-Tai’s with Ta Ta Down in
Nevada ha ha Poppa, word life I dabbled
in crazy weight without rap, I was crazy straight,
Partnah I’m still spendin money from eighty-eight… what?

Features Analysis

First Quatrain
Ahh, who wanna bet us that we don’t touch leathers Stack
cheddars forever, live treacherous all the et ceteras,
To the death of us me and my confidants we
shine You feel the ambiance y’all niggaz just rhyme,

Right from the get go, you can just see the skill with which this is done. First Couplet represents a rhyme scheme done with only one rhyme word, which actually spills out to the next couplet. This is where Jay-Z makes the transition between rhyme word a(death of us) to rhyme word b(confidants). You see how he did that? You start off with the first rhyme word and finish off the whole couplet, without taking a break. This way the transition seems more smooth.

*
1-bet us/leathers/cheddars/treacherous/etceteras/death of us
2-confidants/shine/ambiance/rhyme

-1-1-
1-,-11
-1–2-
2-2–2

Second Quatrain
By the ounce dough accumulates like snow, We don’t just
shine, we illuminate the whole show, you feel me,
Factions from the other side would love to kill me Spill
three quarts of my blood into the street let alone the heat,

What a great use of transitions. This is the first thing you could take from Jay-Z-his transitioning technique. Just notice his rhyme schemes. He starts off using one rhyme word again-dough/snow, but then finishes the end of the first couplet with feel me(another rhyme word). Second couplet, boom, he is using that “feel me” rhyme and it seems so smooth. This is the first note that you gotta take. Jay-Z’s transitions..

*
1-dough/snow/show
2-feel me/kill me/spill three/
3-street/heat

-1-1,-
-,–12,
–22
–3-3

Third Quatrain
Fuck em we hate a nigga lovin this life,
In all possible ways know the Feds is buggin my life,
Hospital days reflectin when my man laid up, On the
Uptown high block he got his side sprayed up, I saw his

Compound rhymes. Loving this life/buggin my life. However, did you see how he introduced “possible ways” in the beginning of the bar? This is because he used “hospital days” and then changed up his rhyme word with “laid up”. So you pretty much have to introduce your next rhyme word indirectly. In the beggining the emphasis is not on it, but when the next bar hits, it creates that seamless transition.

*
1-lovin this life/buggin my life
2-possible ways/hospital days
3-laid up/sprayed up

—1,
2–1,
2–3,-
—3

Fourth Quatrain
life slippin, this is a minor set back Yo
still in all we livin, just dream about the get back That made him
smile though his eyes said “Pray for me”,
I’ll do you one better and slay these niggaz faithfully, Murder

First Quatrain uses double rhyming. He used” slippin” as rhyme a and “set back” as rhyme b. In the first couplet, he uses those two rhymes, placing them on different parts of the bars. Next couplet is interesting though. He used a compound rhyme, composed of three words. “Eyes,Pray for Me” and Slay,Faithfully”. Not easy at all, so if you’re able to insert a rhyme composed of three words somewhere within your bar, it’d give you stripes, no doubt.

*
1-slippin/livin
2-set back/get back
3-eyes,Pray for me/slay,faithfully

1—2
-1,–2-
—-3,
—-3,

Fifth Quatrain
is a tough thing to digest, it’s a slow
process, and I ain’t got nothin but time, I had
near brushes, not to mention, three shots close
range, never touched me, divine intervention Can’t

This one is something simpler. Here Jay-Z concentrates on the content. The rhyme scheme is pretty simple, no need for any further elaboration.

*
1-digest/process
2-mention/intervention

-1,-
1,–,-
-,-2,-
-,-,-2

Sixth Quatrain
stop I from drinkin Mai-Tai’s with Ta Ta Down in
Nevada ha ha Poppa, word life I dabbled
in crazy weight without rap, I was crazy straight,
Partnah I’m still spendin money from eighty-eight… what?

Here you can see some wordplay present. First couplet is all about that. Second couplet he goes into the compound rhymes, but he uses a rather classical rhyme scheme-one pause in the first and no pauses in the second bar.

*
1-I/Mai-Tai/Ta-ta/Nevada/haha/poppa
2-crazy weight/crazy straight/eighty-eight

-1-11-
111,–
-2-,-2
—-2

These were the rhyme schemes present in Jay-Z’s first verse of the song “Dead Presidents”. If you have to remember one thing from the whole article, take his transitional methods. They are so smooth, that the listener, really cannot distinguish the time, in which you’re changing the rhyme word. At least that’s what I’ve learnt from this. Also, take into account the argument presented in the verse. When he speaks to the listener, when he speaks to the actor, when he brags. This is very important, but if I get into that now, the article would get even longer.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask your questions in the form of a comment below.
Jigga, it was my pleasure.

 

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Showing 27 comments
  • kasola
    Reply

    Damn yall jay z haters hes the best both lyrically, commercially ,and he got class.no need for some shitty bullshit of some goddamn pussy ass other rappers say ,they talk shit .huh , awards ….hes tops . Thats what rappers are rated with .and if I talk shit and u aint got nothing like those niggas u brag about, then u just a hating shitty ass nigga …..bitch !!! And what do u know bout rap anyway ?? Muthafacka!!! Fuck off jay z properties,u vulture.

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    Holy dah boi is good

  • Illest
    Reply

    Jay z not that good compared to some rappers like pac, big, nas, kdot

    • Nigel
      Reply

      I disagree, Jay-Z one of the greatest of all time, the difference is that Jay-Z’s goal was to be lyrical and commercial, so he had to sacrifice his best rhymes to make popular music. But he got many classic songs and albums and some of the best lyrics of all time. He’s no Canibus or Big Pun or Nas, but he’s on par. As an overall artist you can argue him as the greatest, lyrically he deserves top 20 at the least.

  • next shady
    Reply

    jay z’s rhyming ability,is like a pussy of his baby blue ivy,and to the fans of that nigger,yall are cocksucker,suck my dick,and to the pussy fans that i offended FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ha ha ha ha

    • Robb Lowe
      Reply

      I’m not a jz fan like some people but the nigga got flow for real and any nigga that can’t give a black man his due is a hateing ass nigga and that’s real.p.s. you best him nigga and if not shut the fuck up.

    • kasii
      Reply

      u just hatin on a nigga coz he knocked the hustle

  • Ant
    Reply

    I`m gonna try this.

  • Xerox
    Reply

    Now I understand more. Thank you. How does the argument when he speaks make sense?

  • Neze
    Reply

    Im going to give this a go.

  • Alyssa
    Reply

    Thumbs up raping manual

    • Slippery D3V1L (RM Veteran)
      Reply

      Love all the valuable raping knowledge I gained from raping manual. Now I always rape with confidence, and my hometown now fears my raping prowess…..

      • mcyoussef
        Reply

        lol

      • DLillard
        Reply

        LOL You said rape instead rap

  • Some Guy
    Reply

    How to rap like modern Jay-Z:

    Give up trying to say anything clever or witty and just talk over a high-class beat…

    • Anonymous
      Reply

      haha true

  • Tarvey
    Reply

    Big ups rappin manual! U’re d shit. Pls im a nigerian nd ive had a lotta fav foreign rappers buh dis kendrick lamar? Pls, y’all gotta break down sum of his traks, preferably sumtin 4rm section 80. Yanks again!!

  • Shyheim
    Reply

    Hey man thanks for the manual its freaking awesome. Do you think you could do a breakdown of Kendrick Lamar?

  • boyizi
    Reply

    God bless rappingmanual. Dis s so cool i enjoyed evry bit of it. Pls help us make more tracks of jay-z simple just d way u made dis tracks simple 4 we upcomi rappers 2folo n understand. I learn alot from it thanks i appreciate.

    • RappingManual
      Reply

      Thanks for the kind words man. That kind of lyrical breakdown helps doesn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Larry Davis
    Reply

    This is truly a remarkable breakdown…I would love to read/view a similar analysis of the entire reasonable doubt cd or some of the other classic CD’s

    • RappingManual
      Reply

      Hey Larry,
      Glad you like it man. I might do one on some other song he wrote. You can expect that in the “Couplet Desipher” section.

  • RICKY PERRY
    Reply

    JAY-Z IS ONE THE BEST RAPPERS ALIVE

    • RappingManual
      Reply

      If not the best..

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