“Hits,” for the sake of this 2010 anthology, tends to refer to crossover singles, which might explain why it pays no attention to Jay-Z's first two albums, Reasonable Doubt and In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. The emphasis is on his pop-leaning singles that reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, beginning with 1998’s “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” and concluding with 2009’s “Empire State of Mind.” It doesn’t include every Top 20 hit -- neither “Excuse Me Miss” nor “Young Forever” appear -- and not every selection qualifies as a hit. For instance, the Black Album tracks “Public Service Announcement” and “Encore” weren’t even issued as singles, though the latter might be the stand-in for the Linkin Park collaboration “Numb/Encore,” which did hit the Top 20. Regardless, this is a decent overview, but it’s far from definitive and more a celebration of the man’s popularity, while also serving as a tie-in with Decoded, his memoir. The Hits Collection, Vol. 1 is lavishly packaged, containing a 32-page booklet of black-and-white photos. This might be the first time that a track list has used asterisks for the sake of denoting Grammy winners.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: John Holt