Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)

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"Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)"
Single by Jay-Z
from the album Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life
Released October 27, 1998
Format 12-inch single, Cassette, CD, Vinyl
Recorded 1998
Genre East Coast hip hop
Length 3:58 (Album Version)
3:36 (Edit)
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Writer(s) Shawn Carter/Charles Strouse/Martin Charnin
Producer(s) The 45 King
Certification Platinum (RIAA) Silver (BPI)
Jay-Z singles chronology
"Can I Get A..."
"Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)"
"Money, Cash, Hoes (Remix)"

"Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" is a single from rapper Jay-Z's third album Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life. It samples the tweaked (high-pitched) song "It's the Hard Knock Life" from the 1976 musical Annie or 1977 musical Annie. The song was produced by The 45 King and at the time of its release was the most commercially successful Jay-Z single. The RIAA certified it as a gold single in March 1999, and it reached platinum status on July 15, 2015. In addition, it was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 41st Grammy Awards in 1999. The song peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100. Internationally, the song peaked within the top ten of the charts in Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, as well as the top twenty of the charts in Austria and Belgium.


Jay heard the beat while leaving the stage after performing as the opening act on Puff Daddy’s ‘No Way Out’ Tour at Madison Square Garden on his birthday. Kid Capri was the tour DJ, and upon hearing it over the venue’s speakers Jay reportedly ran around the arena to get to the DJ booth to ask Capri who had produced the beat. It was on a record the legendary 45 King had given Capri as a sampler of his current work for Capri’s album Soundtrack to the Streets. Capri gave Damon Dash 45 King’s number, and Dame rang him immediately. He offered 45 King $10,000 cash for the beat; King had paid only 25¢ for a record of the ‘Annie’ musical soundtrack a few weeks earlier from which he crafted the bulk of the track. Jay and 45 met at Unique Recording Studios in New York only a few days later, where Jay laid down his verses in one take in only five minutes. To clear the ‘Annie’ cast sample, Jay lied to composer Charles Strouse, telling him that he’d seen the musical on Broadway as a child and been so influenced by the story-line that he wrote a competition-winning essay on its effect at school. Two weeks later "Hard Knock Life" was all over the radio and on its way to becoming one of Jay-Z’s biggest selling, and most popular, records.[1]

Chart performance and success[edit]

It was ranked number 11 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop.

While it peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100, "Hard Knock Life" was also Jay-Z's first single to achieve success outside the United States, peaking within the top ten of the charts in several countries, including Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. In the latter country, "Hard Knock Life" saw its biggest success, entering and peaking at number two on the UK Singles Chart in December 1998, stalling behind Britain's biggest-selling single of 1998, "Believe" by Cher, during its seventh consecutive week at the summit of the chart.

Usage in pop culture[edit]

The song was parodied by Mike Myers as his character Dr. Evil in the 2002 movie Austin Powers in Goldmember.[2]

Comedy rap trio Sudden Death parodied the song on their album Die Laughing (2005), titled "Star Trek Life".[3]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Single track list[edit]

UK CD[edit]

  1. "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (Radio Edit)"
  2. "Can't Knock The Hustle (Fools Paradise Remix)"
  3. "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (Album Version)"



  1. "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (swearing version)"
  2. "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (LP Version)"


  1. "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (Instrumental)"

See also[edit]

Turn Up, Ghetto Anthem (Hard Knock Life) - Jay Z (ft. 2 Chainz)


  1. ^ http://aintnojigga.tumblr.com/post/82552008866/hov-fact-of-the-day
  2. ^ http://movies.about.com/library/weekly/aa062902a.htm
  3. ^ http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Star+Trek+Life/2gvDmm?src=5
  4. ^ Billboard: Hits of the World, February 27, 1999
  5. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1999". Retrieved 2010-08-28. 
  6. ^ "British single certifications – Jay-Z – Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  7. ^ "American single certifications – Jay Z – Hard Knock Life". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  8. ^ "Best-Selling Records of 1999". Billboard (BPI Communications Inc.) 112 (4): 63. January 22, 2000. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 

External links[edit]