Jay Z vs. Remy Ma: Crowning a Bar-for-Bar Winner on 'All the Way Up (Remix)'

(Photos from left: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival, Manny Carabel/FilmMagic)

Jay Z vs. Remy Ma: Crowning a Bar-for-Bar Winner on 'All the Way Up (Remix)'

Who went the hardest?

Published May 25, 2016

Fact: every hip-hop posse cut is a low-key competition.

Giving New York City a moment all its own, Fat Joe recruited French Montana, Infrared, Remy Ma and Jay Z (!!!) for the re-up to his smash “All the Way Up.” As the internet did what it did best and lost its collective s**t to the new record on the streets, commentary also ran amuck about who snapped the hardest. The debate comes down to Jay Z, who dusted off his rap chops for a collaboration no one could have predicted a decade ago, and Remy Ma, who gave Cool & Dre’s heavy horns a second go.

Fortunately for fans, this is a toss up between a calculated lyricist and a brutal straight-shooter, where points can be lost and gained – if you’re listening. Allow us to help with comparison of Jay Z and Remy Ma’s best bars.

A photo posted by FAT JOE (@fatjoe) on

You know you made it when the fact
Your marriage made it is worth millions

Jay Z essentially hopped on the track and said, “Yeah, I may or may not have cheated on my wife, but we’re headed straight to the bank while you ponder on that.” Checkmate.

Lemonade is a popular drink and it still is
On the surface, this is a witty mention of Beyoncé’s chart-annihilating album, but rap fans know better. Hov, king of the double entendre, is also referencing Gang Starr’s 1994 track “DWYCK,” reciting the rapper’s line for his own stunting purposes. Touché.

I'm in the room where real n****s not allowed
I'm the only one in the room that they fear right now

Shawn Carter’s presence in the “room where real n****s not allowed” is a lazy one-liner — if you forego its gravity. A former drug dealer becoming a rapper? Cool. A former drug dealer becoming a half-billion dollar-earning business tycoon? Sicker than your average.

Twenty-one Grammys that I use for D'usse cups
You mean twenty, Jay. One is Blue Ivy’s sippy cup, remember? Way to s**t on the establishment.

Until our baby's showered in gold n***a
Blue looking like ‘Pac in the tub
David LaChapelle levels of not giving a f**k

These by far are the best bars in Jay Z’s verse — and arguably the entire remix. One, he is referencing an iconic Tupac photo. Two, he is name-dropping the famed photographer of the shot for good measure. And three, it results in the most amazing imagery imaginable

Prince left his masters where they safe and sound
We never gonna let the elevator take us down

The layers in these bars are actually rather incredible. Both Prince and Jay Z know a thing or two about fighting for ownership of their masters. Both Prince and Jay Z both experienced trouble in an elevator, where one was sadly found deceased. But both live on, even though “de-elevator tries to bring you down,” as Prince said in “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Flow: 6/10
2016 Jay Z isn’t as smooth a ride as, say, 2001 Jay Z. Took him a few bars to find his groove.

Bars: 8/10
But he is still sharp as ever. Keep up, kids.



My swag, my flow, I stole it back
They mad, too bad, my shows is packed
My town, my crown, I really rap
I'm home, my throne, I spoiled that
No one wants to say it, so we will. Is Remy Ma talking to Nicki Minaj? Nicki has the crown, right? Check. Nicki is also from New York too? Check. If so, this is a great way to come at someone’s neck. If not, still a great way to come at somebody’s neck. Real rap s**t.

One of these bitches, two of these b****es gotta die
Three of these bitches, four of these b****s gonna cry
Five of these b****es popping pills, they high
Six bird b****es, none of them get fly
Thankfully, unlike Foxy Brown, Remy Ma steered clear of bad math and lined her adversaries up with clear-cut counting. Here, it his her fervor and flow that reign supreme, not her ability to get from one to six.

See, I don't wanna hear about your records and big numbers
Cause I was up top seven winters and six summers, cuffed

The masterful part of these bars? She managed to get back to counting and throw that seven in there.

All in that bus, locked me all the way down
Now I'm all the way up

The cadence on that “doooown” is the audible icing. But the reference to her freedom is the cake itself. The welcome home party hasn’t stopped yet.

Flow: 9/10
Reminisce rode that beat. Period.

Bars: 7/10
Not as complex of an approach, and still a punch to the gut.


THE WINNER: Remy Ma, by a hair.

Written by Iyana Robertson

(Photos from left: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival, Manny Carabel/FilmMagic)


Latest in music