He might be in the cultural doghouse currently, post-Lemonade and “Becky with the good hair,” but there was a time when Sean Carter, better known as Jay Z, captured the attention of the music world. His breakthrough debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt, a milestone for both him and hip-hop in general, turns 20 on Saturday, June 25. Since the album’s release, the public has become intimately familiar with the Brooklyn-born rapper’s face, voice, much-imitated cadence, and compelling life story. The major details of Carter’s biography, specifically his journey from drug pusher to successful rapper and mogul, are now firmly ensconced in people’s memory banks. In recognition of his accomplishments, Genius has decided to pay tribute to Reasonable Doubt’s 20th anniversary with a special supercut called “88 Eights.”
One of the most memorable tracks on Reasonable Doubt was “22 Two’s,” an extended word game built around variations on “two,” “to,” and “too.” Sample lyrics: “To all my brothers it ain’t too late to come together / Cause too much black and too much love, equal forever.”
When Reasonable Doubt turned 10, Jay Z updated “22 Two’s” with a track called “44 Four’s,” which he performed at a special anniversary concert at Radio City Music Hall. The twos have become fours, and the lyrics reflect what’s been happening with Jay Z since the release of his first album.
Another decade has passed, and it is time for another update. The experts at Genius have created “88 Eights,” a nostalgic supercut in which Jay Z uses the word “eight” a staggering 88 times in less than four minutes. The video is arranged chronologically, so it becomes a little tour through Jay Z’s discography over the last 20 years. If nothing else, the video proves that it is possible to find 88 examples of Jay Z using the word “eight” in his songs. That someone would take the time to track all of them down and put them in order shows what impact Jay Z has had since the mid-’90s.