Timeless Jay Z Songs That Every Athlete Should Memorize

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    "My 1st Song"

    Important lines: Had to lay way in the cut, til I finally got my turn / Now I’m on top in the spot that I earned

    Jay’s closing track on his initial “retirement” album provides a reminder of the hunger that it takes to be the top dog for an extended period of time. Remembering the fire that got you to where you are is a great reminder for any athlete after their first big pay day. Your pay stub may have a few extra zeroes on the end, but can’t change your approach or focus.

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    "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)"

    Relevant lines: I spring train in the winter ‘round early December / Run suicide drills over and over / With the weight of the world on my shoulder, that’s why they call me “Hova” / I’m far from being God / But I work g****** hard

    This is a quintessential training track, the type of song to have blasting through your headphones while you improve your game in the offseason. If you need something to push you as you outwork your competition outside the lines, this has everything you could possibly need, from the lyrics to the up-tempo snare drums.

    image via Daniele Dalledonne/Flickr Creative Commons

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    "The Ruler’s Back"

    Relevant lines: What could you do to me? It’s not new to me / Sue me? What’s a couple dollars to me? / But you will respect me, simple as that

    Jay’s intro track off The Blueprint is the perfect selection for an athlete at the peak of his game – why else would LeBron James have chosen it for the NBA 2K14 soundtrack he curated? When it’s time to reflect on your accomplishments and let your opponent know you feel pretty good about them, put this on. The regality of the trumpets fits perfectly with Hova’s boasts.

    image via Daniele Dalledonne/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Jay Z

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    "Public Service Announcement"

    Relevant lyrics: Check out my swag’ yo, I walk like a ballplayer / No matter where you go, you are what you are player      

    I mean come on, has there ever been a better song to walk out to? The bare piano intro leads into a thumping Just Blaze beat, setting the stage for Jay to show out. It’s one of the most familiar and beloved instrumentals of all time, and the reference to athletes is just the cherry on top.

    image via Daniele Dalledonne/Flickr Creative Commons

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  • "H.A.M."

    Relevant lyrics: None necessary

    Yet again, this is less about the individual lyrics from the Watch The Throne track and more about the idea of going H.A.M. Lex Luger’s star may have fallen since he was responsible for the beat on this one, but it accentuates the concept perfectly. Any athlete worth their salary is showing up to the arena ready to go H.A.M. and eviscerate the competition.

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  • "Encore"

    Relevant lyrics: Young did it to death, you gotta love it / Record companies told me I couldn’t cut it / Now look at me: all star-studded / Golfer above par like I putted

    When it’s time to take a victory lap and bask in your accomplishments, there’s nothing better than a little “Encore” to accompany your success. Whether it’s the original song produced by Kanye West or the (somehow) more popular collaboration between Jay and Linkin Park, “Encore” has become a staple of the Brooklyn MC’s repertoire. If an athlete gets to bask in the glow of this song regularly, it’s safe to say he’s having a pretty successful career.

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  • "Takeover"

    Jay’s scorching diss track off The Blueprint shows the type of disdain for his rivals that athletes are expected to show for their competition. While bloody rivalries have died down – and for the better – the best athletes still play with a certain controlled rage that songs like “Takeover” can stir. Make sure it’s in your pregame playlist.

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  • Jay Z

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    "Where I’m From"

    Relevant lyrics: I’m from where they ball and breed rhyme stars / I’m from Marcy son, just thought I’d remind y’all  

    Remembering where you came from is a common rap motif, and one that Jay uses expertly on “Where I’m From.” Within the context of sports, it’s important to remember who helped you get to where you are, whether that means showing reverence for your parents, teammates or coaches that helped you along the way.

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It’s no accident that Jay Z’s name has become so synonymous with the sporting scene. Whether it was bringing the Nets to Brooklyn, using the names of star athletes in his rhymes or even his early career affinity for throwback jerseys, Hova has never been shy about his love for sports. He famously quipped on “Empire State of Mind” that he “made a Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can” and while that claim might be a little too bold even for Jay, there’s no doubting how closely connected he is to the modern athlete.

Given his rags to riches story and now his wildly successful financial empire, Jay Z is a great role model for plenty of young athletes, even if he’s told you himself that he isn’t. The indiscretions of his youth aside, Hova has led a life that most people would do well to copy. Even as his star fades as a rapper/entertainer, Jay has followed the mantras he announced in his songs to great success in the business world.

So what are the phrases, the lines, and the verses that athletes need to be most conscious of? What classics from Jay are the songs with the messages most critical to athletes in particular? Glad you asked! We perused through Hova’s immense catalog to find the hits that have the most relevance for today’s sports stars. These are the songs they should be listening to while they lift weights, taking advice from as they take the field, and using to help unwind from a tough loss. Jay’s got a little something for everyone.

Here are Timeless Jay Z Songs That Every Athlete Should Memorize.

Follow Kyle on Twitter at @kyleneubeck

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