Before visual albums and conceptual musicals became a creative outlet and marketing tool for artists of all genres and tiers, JAY-Z released the motion picture 'Streets Is Watching' and the soundtrack of the same name (May 12, 1998).
Featuring music from his revered albums 'Reasonable Doubt' and 'In My Lifetime, Vol. 1,' the hour-long film (directed by Abdul Malik Abbott) followed the Brooklyn boy and his crew on a relentless and ruthless pursuit of paper. The street saga unfolded in Hov's native Marcy Projects, Brooklyn, a concrete war zone where violence lurked around every corner.
Hov's cinematic lyrics provided the perfect script for the self-funded movie, which included cameos from other popular MCs (like The Notorious B.I.G. and AZ).
"Most of the time, we didn't know why we were shooting," says a young Mr. Carter in the film's intro. "We were just trying to survive. It's just like that where I'm from. Any day can change the rest of your life." Revisit the album and movie on the 20th anniversary of 'Streets Is Watching.'
Soundtracking: Streets Is Watching
JAY-Z's 'Streets Is Watching' is one of the greatest street films released by a rap artist in hip-hop history. It brought classic album cuts from the time like "Friend or Foe" and "Imaginary Player" to life, with cinematic skits to tie them all together. Here's a playlist containing the songs featured on 'Streets Is Watching,' starting with the opening credits. Curtains, please!
Before he made a career rapping in the studio, JAY-Z was trapping in the streets. Throughout the years, he's told stories of his hustling throughout Marcy Projects on wax. Here's a playlist containing Jigga's classic hustling tales, including gems like "D'evils" and "Allure." Press play, and please remember—"Hov did that, so hopefully you won't have to go through that."
On the 'Streets Is Watching' soundtrack, JAY-Z got busy over R&B tracks with Roc-A-Fella artists Christion and Rell. That wouldn't be the last time he hopped on an R&B cut. Check out this playlist of Hov's best R&B bangers, featuring collabos with Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Frank Ocean and BEYONCÉ.
The 'Streets Is Watching' soundtrack was centered around JAY-Z's classic remix of "In My Lifetime." When JAY-Z hops on a remix, you already know it's gonna be a classic. Same goes if he's remixing his own joints, too. Peep this playlist of Hov's finest remixes throughout the years.