"Run This Town" (CD single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"Run This Town" (CD single) Music Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Hot rappers court danger by resurrecting old rap rivalries.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 21 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

In the rap world, the message of this song is inflammatory. Jay-Z raps that his Roc Nation record label reigns supreme, adding more fuel to the ongoing fire of who rules the rap world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

By perpetuating the dangerous rivalry between rap/hip-hop artists, Jay-Z eliminates himself from the role-model category.


Kanye's rap includes lines like "She got a a-- that'll swallow up a g-string."


A couple of f-bombs and some offensive allusions, like "It's crazy how you can go from being Joe Blow / To everybody on your d--k, no homo."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, in terms of violent and sexual content, this isn't the worst of Jay-Z's music. However, its focus on bragging about being the best merely reinforces the infamous and dangerous sense of rivarly that pervades the rap and hip-hop arenas.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMychemicalstinkpants April 3, 2011
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byohya August 12, 2010
some strong language:n---a,f--k,d--k and a--.
Teen, 14 years old Written byspeyan727 September 11, 2018
Kid, 10 years old January 10, 2012

Not for Ones Under 14

Ages 2-8 Off Ages 9-13 Iffy then 14+ On

What's the story?

The second track off of Jay Z's soon-to-be-released CD titled The Blueprint 3, RUN THIS TOWN features guest vocals from two other artists -- Rihanna and Kanye West -- whose mega-star status is on a par with his own. To that end, the three spend this song asserting their dominance over everyone and everything, posing the question, "Who's gonna run this town tonight?" and then answering it themselves: "We are, yeah I said it, we are / You can call me Caesar / Please follow the leader." This single also marks Rihanna's first release since her recent troubles with boyfriend and fellow singer Chris Brown.

Is it any good?

This song reels you in right off the bat, with strong intro lines from Rihanna that she proceeds to repeat throughout the song, as well as a dually infectious and ominous guitar hook that's a good fit for the track's competitive message. Both Jay Z and Kanye demonstrate why they're masters of their trade, each delivering their rhymes with timing and flow that make the song stick in your mind long after it's over.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Do people brag because they really believe they're better than others -- or are they actually trying to cover up their true feelings of insecurity and inadequacy?

  • Check out our article "What Messages Are Your Kids Getting From Chris Brown and Rihanna?" to find out more about influential artists from the rap and hip-hop worlds are to kids.

Music details

  • Artists: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna
  • Release date: July 24, 2009
  • Label: ROC Nation
  • Genre: Rap
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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