By Gigi Abrantes
Since he first dropped his debut album in 1996, Jay-Z became an instant classic on the hip-hop scene. Now that he is about to drop his 11th album The Blueprint 3, MTV News takes a look back at the history of one of the greatest artists in rap history with The J to Z of Jay-Z.
The last time Jay-Z used a pen to write a song was back in 1996, for a Reasonable Doubt track called "Can I Life." And he only wrote down the second verse. For the Jigga Man, spontaneity is as important to his style as his flow and his storytelling — in fact, it informs both. It's not that his raps are thoughtless, either. The consummate lyricist, Hova constantly organizes and re-organizes his thoughts, and though his rhymes are constructed in advance, he never actually writes a word down to paper. The result is a natural fluidity that allows his raps to float in the space between the casually cool and the profoundly dense.
He calls it the gift that keeps giving, but he recognizes that it wasn't always this way. Jay-Z learned to perfect his craft by writing on a daily basis and has always advised aspiring rappers to do the same. But as Jay-Z worked to become the worldwide media mogul he is today, the everyday habit of writing was no longer necessary. (He's also pretty tight on time nowadays.) He refers to his gift as his "'Rain Man' flow," named after Dustin Hoffman's number-rattling idiot savant in the 1988 film of the same name.