Jay-Z releases first single "Dead Presidents"
"Dead Presidents" is the debut single released in promotion by rapper Jay-Z's from his debut album Reasonable Doubt.
Its lyrics about the drug dealing underworld have made it a hip hop classic and a staple in Jay-Z's collection of tracks. The song's producer Ski samples Lonnie Liston Smith's "A Garden of Peace" for the track's melody and "Oh My God (Remix)" for its percussion. The single was a commercial success as indicated by its RIAA certification as a gold single in June of 1996.
The actual single "Dead Presidents" does not appear on Jay-Z's debut album, but instead "Dead Presidents II" does. "Dead Presidents II" has the same beat and chorus as the original, but different lyrics. This version can be found on Jay-Z's 2002 greatest hits compilation Chapter One: Greatest Hits.
Steve Juon of RapReviews.com considers the "Dead Presidents" music video—directed by Abdul Malik Abbott—to be of "movie quality."
"Dead Presidents II" was voted #16 in About.com's Top 100 Rap Songs.