Can't Knock the Hustle

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"Can't Knock the Hustle"
Single by Jay-Z featuring Mary J. Blige
from the album Reasonable Doubt
Released August 27, 1996
Format 12-inch single, Cassette, CD, Vinyl
Recorded D&D Studios; New York City, New York mixed at Platinum Island Studios by Carlos Bess and Vaughn Sessions
Genre East Coast hip hop, Mafioso rap, underground hip hop
Length 5:17
Label Roc-A-Fella
Writer(s) Shawn Carter
Jerome Foster
Marcus Miller
Producer(s) Knobody
Nomad (co-producer)
Dahoud Darian (co-producer)
Sean C (co-producer)
Jay-Z singles chronology
"Ain't No Nigga"
"Can't Knock the Hustle"
"Feelin' It"
Mary J. Blige singles chronology
"Not Gon' Cry"
"Can't Knock the Hustle"
"Love Is All We Need"

"Can't Knock the Hustle" is the third single from rapper Jay-Z's debut album Reasonable Doubt. The song features a beat produced by Knobody, co-produced by Sean C and Dahoud Darien, as well as a chorus sung by Mary J. Blige.


"Can't Knock the Hustle" marked Knobody's first foray into outside production after the rap group he was in disbanded.[1] Knobody had been very pleased with the last track he had produced for the band and, together with Sean C, had taken it to the nearby home of Roc-A-Fella's Damon Dash.[1] Dash then showed it to Jay-Z, who was suitably impressed and encouraged the young producer to contribute beats.[1] Knobody then gave Jay-Z the backing track to what would become "Can't Knock The Hustle".[1] The rapper then recorded the track.[1]

A space was left for the hook, which the Latin singer Veronica was originally supposed to sing, but for which Mary J. Blige stepped in after Roc-A-Fella had contacted her and she heard the track and immediately wanted to get involved.[1] The appearance of Blige was considered a major coup because the label was an independent and Jay-Z was unknown at the time.[1] Blige came up with the idea for the chorus.,[2] which is a vocal interpolation of a verse from "Fool's Paradise" by Meli'sa Morgan, with slightly modified lyrics.

Before the song begins, Pain in da Ass delivers a monologue from the 1983 gangster film Scarface. Jay-Z then proceeds to deliver mafioso lyrics about drug dealing and street life.

A live version of "Can't Knock the Hustle" found on the bonus disc of Kingdom Come features Beyoncé singing the song's hook. The song's beat has been heavily sampled by UK soul singer Lemar in his song "50/50".


Aside from reaching #73 on The Billboard Hot 100 and #30 on the UK Singles Chart, "Can't Knock the Hustle" also garnered much critical acclaim. As Steve Juon of states: "Knobody put together an incredibly smooth opening track for Jay that became the mantra of his career. With a bouncy beat and Mary J. Blige on the hook, the song was infinitely danceable, but the lyrics he spit were far from just the average shit."[3] Juon also considers the Hype Williams-directed music video[citation needed] for "Can't Knock the Hustle" to be "movie quality."[4]

Single track list[edit]


  1. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Original Mix)"
  2. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Instrumental)"
  3. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Acapella)"
  4. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Hani Remix)"



  1. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Original Mix)"
  2. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Instrumental)"
  3. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Acapella)"


  1. "Can't Knock the Hustle (Hani Remix)"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview With Knobody". HitQuarters. Sep 27, 2005. Retrieved Jul 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Making of Reasonable Doubt Told U So". XXL Magazine. June 23, 2006. Retrieved June 20, 2007.
  3. ^ Juon, Steve. "Reasonable Doubt Review at". Retrieved July 9, 2007. 
  4. ^ Juon, Steve. "In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 Review at". Retrieved July 9, 2007. 

External links[edit]