The Carters are simply the power couple of Hollywood, with Beyoncé and Jay-Z boasting massively successful careers at the top of the pop/R&B and Hip-Hop pyramids, respectively. They are also very aware of it, as reflected many times in song lyrics.
Queen Bey croons to her lover in her 2016 track off Lemonade, Love Drought: “You and me could calm a war down. That's right after boasting that they could move a mountain,” something probably only Atlas, who exists but in Greek mythologies, could do.
And together, they've done more than move mountains through music. They've been churning out relentless hits years before they even got married – in fact, their biggest songs together came from that collaboration era. As a result, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, aside from being a model couple, remain among the most iconic musical duos of all time.
To prove it, we've put together a catalog of their collaborations and ranked them from worst good to best.
21. Lift Off – Jay-Z and Kanye West feat. Beyoncé
Lift Off is track off Kanye West's and Jay-Z‘s collaborative album, Watch The Throne, which features Beyoncé singing the hook. American singer Bruno Mars also co-wrote the track with the two rappers; on a close listen, one can match B's chorus to his musical style.
The rap duo, known as The Throne, performed the song during their promotional tour, and Beyoncé performed it again on her and Jay-Z's On The Run Tour in 2014.
As always, B's strengthened vocals gained the most attention on the song. Most critics considered Jay's and West's verses mediocre and somewhat bland, the latter's singing attempt poorly auto-tuned.
20. Black Effect – The Carters
Black Effect begins by describing the different kinds of love, proclaiming “love for humanity” as the most essential form. This cultural anthem shows love for the black heritage and flaunts their pride in belonging. Jay also cites his run-in with the law and the corrupt justice system. The track closes with Jay's reflection on how far he'd come in relishing his icon status.
Black Effect is the eight track on Everything Is Love.
19. Shining – DJ Khaled feat. Jay-Z and Beyoncé
Shining is the lead single from DJ Khaled's tenth album, Grateful, which celebrates his newborn son, Asahd Khaled. The track features Jay-Z, who then recently became his manager, and Beyoncé, in their first collaboration with DJ Khaled.
Despite the commercial success of Grateful, Shining was not as big a hit as other tracks in the album, which points to its monotonous, albeit catchy, nature. The album lead is in tune with its theme of gratitude as the Carters reference the “shining” state of their lives, the wins, and all-platinum records. It also mentions the twins, Rumi and Sir, for the first time.
18. Tom Ford – Jay-Z
Tom Ford is a song from Jay-Z's twelfth studio album, Magna Carter Holy Grail, released in 2013. Although the track does not feature Beyoncé, it features her vocals in the closing verse, ad-libbing Jay's lines in her signature H-Town swag. Jay's ability to ride on any beat with an almost seamless flow reminds everyone why he's one of Hip-Hop's most noteworthy icons.
Of course, Jay flaunts his wealth in this deservedly vaunting track that's an obvious clap-back at critics who discredit his artistry.
Fun fact: Jay-Z emailed the real Tom Ford when he was working on the song, who, after its release, was flattered to have a “whole Jay-Z track” named after him.
17. Hip Hop Star – Beyoncé Feat. Big Boi, Sleepy Brown
Hip-Hop star is the fourth track on Dangerously in Love. It features Sleepy Brown and Big Boi of the musical duo Outkast, rapping in his typical off-beat style. Again, Hov is not present on the track, but his influence on it is clearly palpable because he helped write the song. Hip-Hop Star is a middling attempt at fusing rock, R&B, and Hip-Hop, if only disconnected.
16. Nice – The Carters
The Carters once again hop on the trap bandwagon for another song off Everything Is Love. Still, nothing about Hov's verse fits into the stereotypical lazy and imitative nature of trap music. On it, Hov addresses people's tendency to bring up his history of drug trafficking, Black racist slurs about him, and his success despite it all.
Bey follows in her husband's steps for her own verse: “Blueprint from my Jigga who never writes,” referencing the fact that Hov doesn't pen down his lyrics. Pharrell Williams helped produce the song and provided backup vocals for Bey on the chorus.
15. I Got That – Amil Feat. Beyoncé
I Got That is a song featured on Amil's debut album A.M.I.L (All Money Is Legal). Jay-Z was involved in the song's making as Amil was his then protégé; he helped write the track.
On it, Beyoncé has moved on from relying on any man to pay her bills or buy her automobiles. Here, she performs solo for the first time and boasts of her self-sufficiency and ability to provide for herself what a man may think she needs him for. The song encourages women to be independent. Bey has been empowering women from her first solo act to date – Queen for a reason!
14. Top Off – DJ Khaled feat. Future, Jay-Z, Beyoncé
Top Off is the lead single on American producer DJ Khaled's eleventh album, Father of Asahd.
Again, the duo flaunts their wealth and exclusive luxuries in the song. Queen B's verse starts with hard-hitting bars: How I'm the only lady here, still the realest nigga in the room? / I break the internet, top two and I ain't number two.
There was no topping that alien verse! The only thing that dulls the song is Future's lousy vocals and lack of inventiveness on the hook, ringing over the same line throughout.
13. 713 – The Carters
In the first verse, Jay-Z recalls the cute story of how he first met Beyoncé and reconnected two years later while she was in a previous relationship. But in the second verse, he dips into an ocean of his own insecurity: I never knew a lo, lo, lo-, Love like this / Gotta be special for me to write this / Queen, I ain't mean no disrespect / But the way I network, it's hard for me to connect.
713 also references the area code of Houston, Beyoncé's hometown, to which she steadily pays homage to. The hook Beyoncé sings is an interpolation of Dr. Dre's hit song, Still D.R.E, which Jay-Z wrote, while Jay flaunts his wealth in the lines leading up to it. 713 is an endearing, honest tale of true love in all its different shades.
12. Friends – The Carters
Fake friends are part of the unwelcome package that comes with fame, but here, Bey boasts of friends “closer than kin” who never let her drown; real ones. She delivers the same energy, sharing her life of luxuries. The track talks about the role of their close circle of friends in inspiring and supporting them and vice versa. Jay raps about his best friend Ty-Ty, and how they were there for each other in times of grief.
He also cites spearheading the “Free Meek Mill” movement when the rapper was incarcerated.
Honorable mentions of their inner circle include Tyran Smith, Juan Perez, Emory Jones, Jay Brown, and Kawanna Brown.
11. LoveHappy – The Carters
LoveHappy explores the couple's troubled relationship and their efforts to try again despite the difficulties, including the fact that they had to get remarried. They exchange playful quips at the start of the song, Bey reminding him how lucky he is to be alive after she found out about his affair.
As the last track on their collaborative album, Everything Is Love, it leads fans on a journey of their flawed marriage to a conclusion: “We came, and we saw, and we conquered it all / We came, and we conquered, now we're happy in love.”
10. Ape**** – The Carters
Ape**** is the only single from the Carters' debut album, Everything Is Love. It was written by the couple, Pharrell Williams, and Quavo and Offset of the rap group Migos, who provide their signature-style ad-libs throughout the song.
In Apeshit, Yoncé's rap skills fully materialize on a booming trap beat, rhyming about her success rate, fortune, and icy jewelry, a staple theme of trap music. While she also boasts of her interaction with explosively excited fans and crowd, whom she advises to “save her” (“savor” the opportunity to catch her).
Jay-Z opens by referencing Chicago rapper Chief Keef, then the Super Bowl, and last, dissing the Grammys, after being nominated eight times without being awarded any gold.
9. Part II (On The Run) Jay-Z feat. Beyoncé
The Carters may be Hollywood's power couple. Still, Lemonade and 4:44 gave a glimpse of their private lives and marriage, proving to everyone that their relationship, just like every other, is far from perfect. And that's okay! As they say, there's no such thing as a perfect relationship because there's no such thing as perfect people.
In the opening lines, Bey begs the question: Who wants that perfect love story anyway? Calling it an old cliché.
Part II (On The Run) paints a picture of a love so strong it defeats any odds. The couple may have had blue seasons, but they've always shown that, ultimately, it's them against the world. It is a beautiful tribute to their imperfect, perfect love story.
8. Family Feud – Jay-Z feat. Beyoncé
“Family” in this track is explored in many contexts: the rap industry, new-school and old-school rappers, and the constant dispute on relevancy and style. He raps about his family, nearly wrecked by his affair with Becky, whom we are first introduced to in Beyoncé's Lemonade.
And finally, the cult classic, The Godfather, his shared similarities with a protagonist, Michael Corleone, and his (Michael's) relationship with his wife, Kay Adams.
Family Feud features on Jay-Z's album, 4:44. While Jay-Z rides on the beats, churning clever bars, Beyoncé's melodic ad-libs sweeten the melody throughout the song. Family Feud, which is also the name of a game show by Steve Harvey, also references the television host and comedian: Nobody wins when the family feuds / But my stash can't fit into Steve Harvey's suit.
7. Hollywood – Jay-Z feat. Beyoncé
Hollywood was not as successful as it should have been, especially for a song with such a haunting, graphic message. It describes how one lusts for fame and fortune and how, after having a taste, one can become so addicted to it they can't live with it. Jay likens it to the thrilling feel of heroin and declares it (Hollywood) the most addictive drug in the world.
In Beyoncé's first rhetoric verse, it seems as though she's her usual flirty self, teasing and inviting a man over. But with increased awareness as the song progresses, one would realize she was singing from Hollywood's point of view. Bey painted an image of how it preys on up-and-coming artists, luring them with flashing lights and all the blinding trappings of being in the spotlight.
In the last verse, Jay-Z daringly name-drops a few celebrities whose lives were destroyed by Hollywood.
6. That's How You Like It – Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
That's How You Like It was never released as a proper single; it might be the most underrated song on B's debut album, Dangerously in Love. The duo brings back the Bonnie and Clyde vibes, with Hov singing the hook and coming in on the last verse. Beyoncé describes her ideal man and admits to her singing partner that she loves the way he fits the criteria, while hoping he feels the same way about her.
“If I'm with you, then I'm with only you / My loyalty will never, ever change,” she promises. We all can agree that she's a woman of her word.
Jay-Z, in his verse, proves himself to be the gangster of her dreams, tells her to pay no mind to the critics, and fancies the pairing of “Young Hova and the letter B.” The R&B tune has the picturesque sweetness of young, dreamy flirtation, the couple exchanging cute come-ons.
5. Upgrade U – Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
They say behind every successful man is a woman. Beyoncé reiterates the belief: Unless you're flawless, then your dynasty ain't complete without a chief like me. The line can be seen in respect to Jay-Z's earlier banter: How you gon' upgrade me? What's higher than number one?
But throughout the song, Bey boasts of how she could complement her man and upgrade his lifestyle to a life of high-end luxuries and extravagance. Her assertive, strong feminist undertones headline the track, as she considers her partner blessed to have found his equal.
Upgrade U marks their second collaboration on the B'Day album.
4. Déjà vu – Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
This is the lead single on her sophomore album, B'Day, which many fans argue is her best album to date. In concept and lyrical terms, Déjà vu is a lot like her first hit Crazy in Love, where she asserts love's complete dominance of her. Except here, she sings the frustrations of a protagonist so deeply besotted that she tethers on the brinks of sanity, seeing pictures of her lover everywhere she turns.
Jay-Z's pen game is off the roof, with a flow “so unusual.” In one of the opening lines, he goes: “Me and B, she about to sting, stand back.”
Like the many songs Beyoncé released during the early flames of her relationship with Jay-Z, Déjà vu is emphatic of a girlish, earnest passion. It perfectly ties together soul, funk, R&B, and Hip-Hop elements.
3. '03 Bonnie and Clyde – Jay-Z feat. Beyoncé
As the title suggests, the song was inspired by the true crime story of the tight-as-thieves (pun intended) Bonnie and Clyde and their awfully dysfunctional romance. In this song, where they call themselves the present-day criminal duo, Jay-Z first introduces their classic catchphrase: “You ready, B? / Let's go get 'em.”
Aside from Jay and his Queen, many big names were involved in the song's making, including Kanye West, Prince, and most of all, Tupac. '03 Bonnie and Clyde samples the beat and hook from Tupac's 1996 song Me and My Girlfriend off his first posthumous album, The 7 Day Theory.
It was the first collaboration between Jay-Z and Beyoncé and the lead single to Jay-Z's seventh studio album, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse.
2. Drunk in Love – Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
There are two things Beyoncé will always do: empower women through sensual confidence and let loose with a sexy, strong but feminine energy. Drunk in Love was the most successful record of her surprise-release eponymous album, peaking at number two on the billboard chart, and earning the duo a Grammy award.
The sultry number vigorously expresses the intoxicating feeling of being young and reckless in love, following in the same vein as their 2003 hit, Crazy in Love. This is also one of the earliest tracks where Bey flaunts her rap skills, as she has fun on the mic, spitting raunchy decoys.
1. Crazy in Love – Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
Crazy in Love features on her debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, as her official debut single. The number-one hit grew to be one of the most successful songs of her career and is included in Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Hits of All Time.
Crazy in Love conceptualizes foolhardy love and how wild and daring it renders its victim, in this case, Beyoncé, who admits not caring what anyone thinks. The song, riddled with many catchy bits, is a masterpiece for its snappy, full-toned beat, plain-spoken lyrics, and a guest appearance from Jay-Z, who wrote his verse in ten minutes.
This article was written and syndicated by the Wealth of Geeks.
Boloere Seibidor, fondly called B.S. is a Nigerian based writer and poet. Her favorite topics to cover include music, especially Hip-Hop, film, lifestyle, and fashion. She's been published by Feral Journal, Fantasy Magazine, The Temz Review, and most notably, Wealth of Geeks. She enjoys romantic dinners, movie nights, and touring new sites. When she's not writing, she's delving back in time to the underground world of Hip-Hop, watching TikTok, or visiting the cinema.