2017 saw the 20th anniversary of Jay-Z's very first hit in the UK – and he's come a long way. Jay – real name Shawn Carter – has accrued hiphop icon status and a clutch of hits, worked with some of the biggest names in music and launched the careers of a few while he's been at it, and has played to millions of adoring fans across the world. Oh, and he's married to Beyoncé, one of the most famous women on Earth. So it's all going pretty well so far.
As Jay-Z wows the crowds at V Festival this weekend, we crunched the numbers to bring you his Top 15 biggest songs in the UK. Before the main rundown, a few highlights:
Released: May 2007
Jay's first ever hit as a guest rapper was back in 1997 when he lent his rhymes to Foxy Brown's Top 10 hit I'll Be, but his most successful would come ten years later, with the star he helped create – Rihanna. It was a long, wet summer when Umbrella captured the imagination of a British public desperately in need of some joy – not to mention some sunshine. Umbrella – which led with Jay's distinctive rap – was Number 1 for 10 weeks in 2007, and has sold 1,020,000 across digital, physical and streaming equivalent sales.
N****s in Paris
Released: February 2012
Two huge hiphop heavyweights came together for this track, released from Jay's collaborative album with Kanye West. Both rappers were at the top of their game on this slick production, which has critics and fans alike salivating. While it may have peaked at 10, N****s in Paris spent 21 weeks in the Top 40, which has helped boost its tally to 1,010,000 across downloads and streams. Bonus fact: this was the first song Nick Grimshaw played when he took the helm of the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show.
Crazy in Love
Released: July 2003
Jay-Z's first taste of the top spot was a big one, collaborating with the future Mrs Carter, even though at this point they were still refusing to confirm they were even dating. Beyoncé's "uh-oh"s and Jay's "my texture is the best fur – chinchilla" became as synonymous with summer in 2003 as melting ice cream and the air conditioning breaking down. Topping the chart for three weeks, Crazy in Love shifted 910,000 across all formats and streaming.
Released: May 2004
Jay's biggest song that's ALL him and nobody else is the iconic 99 Problems. Originally a double A-side with Dirt Off Your Shoulder, this track from The Black Album was so popular it charted twice! Jay headlined Glastonbury in 2008 and ended up making headlines himself when some of rock and roll' biggest crybabies objected to a hiphop star taking top billing, but it gave 99 Problems new life – it returned to the Top 40 on downloads. Its tally is 500,000.
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)
Released: December 1998
Jay-Z's first top 10 as a solo artist, Hard Knock Life sampled a classic song from the musical Annie as a backtrack for Jay's telling of the struggles and success of his life so far. It arguably broke Jay as a global artist and was only kept off the top in the UK by Cher's record-breaking million-selling juggernaut Believe. Hard Knock Life has chalked up 460,000 across physical, download and streaming equivalent sales.
Here's Jay-Z's 15 biggest songs in full:
|1||UMBRELLA||RIHANNA FT JAY-Z||1||2007|
|2||N****S IN PARIS||JAY-Z & KANYE WEST||10||2012|
|3||CRAZY IN LOVE||BEYONCE FT JAY-Z||1||2003|
|4||EMPIRE STATE OF MIND||JAY-Z FT ALICIA KEYS||2||2009|
|5||NUMB/ENCORE||JAY-Z & LINKIN PARK||14||2004|
|6||DRUNK IN LOVE||BEYONCE FT JAY Z||9||2013|
|8||RUN THIS TOWN||JAY-Z FT RIHANNA & KANYE WEST||1||2009|
|9||HOLY GRAIL||JAY Z FT JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE||7||2013|
|10||HARD KNOCK LIFE (GHETTO ANTHEM)||JAY-Z||2||1998|
|11||SUIT & TIE||JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE FT JAY Z||3||2013|
|12||YOUNG FOREVER||JAY-Z FT MR HUDSON||10||2009|
|13||NO CHURCH IN THE WILD||JAY Z/KANYE WEST/F OCEAN||37||2012|
|14||CLIQUE||KANYE WEST/JAY Z/BIG SEAN||22||2012|
|15||OTIS||JAY-Z/KANYE WEST/OTIS REDDING||28||2011|
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