The 12 Jay Z Disciples You Should Know

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12 Jay Z Disciples You Should Know

Memphis Bleek
Jay Z and Memphis Bleek share a laugh. Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Jay Z is one of the most influential rappers of all time. He has groomed, mentored and inspired a whole generation of emcees. His flow is often emulated. His business savvy is a quality many of his peers aspire to. From Memphis Bleek to J. Cole, here are Jay Z's best known disciples.

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#12. Foxy Brown

Foxy Brown
Johnny Nunez/Getty

Foxy Brown had no demo. All she had was a mean guest verse on Jay Z’s “Ain’t No N---a." After working closely with Jay Z, Foxy was ready for the solo spotlight. Her first album Ill Na Na went platinum after selling over 3 million records in the US and six million worldwide. It produced two huge singles: "Get Me Home" (co-penned by Jay) and "I'll Be" (featuring Jay Z). Fox Boogie would eventually become one of the top selling female rappers of all time.

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#11. Maino


Maino made a splash in 2005 with his controversial hit "Rumors." He's been flooding the game with mixtapes since then, and even landed a collaboration with Lil Kim on The Naked Truth. Maino's music oozes that unmistakable Brooklyn swagger that helped distinguish Jay-Z and Biggie before him. He projects his "people's champ" persona with an unhinged aura.

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#10. SunNY

SunN.Y.'s rap career fizzled out almost as soon as it kicked off, but the 7-time Freestyle Friday Champ was once considered a beacon of light with his Jay-Z-inspired hustlenomics. SunN.Y.'s debut LP, Overnight Celebrity (issued via Jermaine Dupri's So So Def imprint), contained vivid pictures from his personal diary.

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#9. Jin

Jin and Jay share an incredible dedication and work ethic that's rarely seen in today's playing field. Jay Z boasts a catalog of 10 albums in 10 years (excluding those abortive Best of Both Worlds collaborations with R.Kelly), and Jin has dropped half that amount in the last three years. More importantly, his flow and delivery hints at Hov's ear-grabbing rhyme structure. And like Jay, Jin isn't afraid to wax reflective every now and then.

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#8. Skyzoo


If you enjoy Jay's chest-pounding rhymes, then Skyzoo is your guy. It also helps that Skyzoo, who once boasted of 'scooping Ciara's goodies while Christina's dippin' low, sprinkles his brash braggarts with intelligent recitals.

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#7. Saigon

Saigon. Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

A street-smart Brooklyn upstart with more following than some long-standing rappers. Sounds like Jay-Z before the Def Jam deal, right? While Jay's street dealings armed him with the resources necessary to launch a label (both creative and financial), Saigon wasn't so lucky. His own street activities led to a seven-year stint in jail. But Sai turned his trials into triumph and used that time-out as a platform to refine his art. It definitely paid off.

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#6. Joe Budden


While Budden is original in his own right, he effectively channels Jay's grim introspection and cocky, semi-arrogant style. His forte is the ability to create music powerful enough to communicate to the heart, while keeping it smooth enough for radio.

Joe Budden is to Jay Z what Nas is to Rakim.

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#5. Jeezy

"What up Jeezy, what it do/Y’all remind me of us in early '92" - Jay Z ("Star is Born")

Jay Z has always admired Jeezy. The admiration stems from a place of respect. As a trapper-turned-rapper, Jay considers Snowman one of the real ones. In turn, Jeezy has been forthcoming about Hov's influence on his career. Both flipped street hustle into authentic hustle. And, as Jay shouts out on that Blueprint 3 track, Jeezy's CTE brand is the 2000s version of 1990s ROC.

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#4. Fabolous

Fabolous and Jay Z
Jay Z and Fabolous.

Brooklyn is the common thread here. Fabolous and Jay rep BK proudly. But their similarity extends beyond their shared borough. Fab looked up to Hov as a young rapper on the rise. Fab's style is a blend of Hov's effortless cool and hustler spirit. His flow is smooth and laid-back. His delivery, calm and confident.

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#3. J. Cole

J Cole

J. Cole was a longtime Jay Z admirer before the Roc Nation deal. He first proved his worth by becoming the first artist to sign with Jay’s Roc Nation imprint, distributed by Live Nation. His first major mixtape, The Warm Up, was one of 2009’s best. And to crown it all, J Cole turned it up a notch and held his own alongside Jay on Blueprint 3 standout "Star Is Born."

Choice Album: Cole World: The Sideline Story

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#2. Kanye West

(Photo © Christopher Polk/Getty)

Unbeknownst to many, it was Dame Dash who gave Kanye West his first shot. Once it became clear that Mr. West is a bonafide talent, Jay Z came on board. In the latter stage of his career, Jay Z has played the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Ye’s Anakin Skywalker. Kanye’s production was instrumental to the success of Jay’s classic Blueprint album. In return, Jay gave Yeezy a platform to share his passion with the world. They differ in style, of course. Ye is the blunt one. Hov is the more politically astute one who can "move in a room full of vultures." West is the soulful mama's boy. Jay is the D-boy. They melded these differences beautifully on Watch the Throne. Their collaborations are events. Kanye is one of the most sought after artists in the world today, with several multi-platinum albums, and it all started at the R-O-C.

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#1. Memphis Bleek

Memphis Bleek
Jay Z and Memphis Bleek share a laugh. Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Memphis Bleek has been with Jay from Day One. He was there when Jay recorded Reasonable Doubt. In fact, Jay loves telling the story of his first collaboration with Bleek. His young protege had one request during the recording session: he wanted six cheeseburgers. Astonished, Jay stayed in the room and made sure Bleek ate all six cheeseburgers. He did. Bleek was hungry.

It seems like it’s been forever since Jay declared him "one hit away" on "Diamonds (Remix)." Meek has come a long way, indeed. Like Foxy Brown, Bleek got his start as a guest MC on Hov's Reasonable Doubt. Following his exposure on early Jay Z albums, Bleek would become one of the first artists on Roc-a-Fella. The label released his debut LP, Coming of Age, which peaked at #7 with 118,000 units sold in its first week.

More than two decades later, Bleek is still by Jay's side as his hype man.