Top positive review
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"Maybe you'll love me when i fade into black...."
on November 18, 2003
In 1996, Jay-Z came into the rap game with his undoubted classic debut album Reasonable Doubt. Since RD, he has sold over 20 million albums in the U.S, not counting other countries sales of his 10-12 albums. In 2001, he came the closest he ever had come to matching the quality of RD with his classic The Blueprint, unfortunately, the album that follow The Blueprint was a very weak effort littered with way too many guest appearences, that album was The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. Now, in 2003, Jay-Z has claimed he is hanging up his mic after this last album to work on other projects including working with new artists on the Roc-A-Fella record label, such as Young Gunz, Freeway, Kanye West, etc.
My initial thought was that there was no way Jay-Z could retire so soon, but many rappers have claimed to hang up their mics and came straight back (Example: Ja Rule). I bought this record, The Black Album, on the day it was released on Friday, Nov. 14. Overall, the record cannot be called anything other than a masterpiece. Taking it back to the roots of RD and the first Blueprint, this is one of jigga's finest records. I feel like every track is amazing so they are all 5 stars in my perspective but here's a list of what things i would've liked better about The Black Album.
"December 4th" - A very dramatic track about Jay's childhood and growing up. Has commentary from his mother, Gloria Carter, during the song. Produced by Just Blaze, this is one of the more upbeat on the album. Features the line "maybe you'll love me when i fade into black".
"What More Can I Say" - A track mainly talking about Jay's haters, people who have slept on him, all of that. Has some really brilliant wording in it as well as a great beat.
"Encore" - Absolutely brilliant. This is a laid-back sort of track that is amazing, definitely give this one a try. Displays Hova's ability to make up some of the best lyrics in hip-hop.
"Change Clothes" - I'm not going to say i was at all disappointed in this track, but it seems its mediocre compared to the rest of the album. This was placed here mainly for the sake of a "pop" single to hype up the album but it doesn't work well. The Neptunes' do a sorry production job, making it sound consistant to their last Jay-Z effort "Excuse Me Miss". I would've left this out.
"Dirt Off Your Shoulder" - First off, AMAZING BEAT. This track has more lyrical gold with an incredible beat to back it up. Another track about Jay's life and what he's about, excellent.
"Threat" - Another great song, more of lyrical brilliance but with a more edgy sound to it. The annoying dude saying stuff throughout the song is its only weakness.
"Moment Of Clarity" - I have some major issues with this song. The beat sounds way too much like an Eminem/50 Cent type of beat and is very annoying to hear with Jay rapping on it. The lyrics are very well put together, espicially one lyric i think is true to all of jigga's fanbase "i dumb down for ya'll to double my dollars/you criticize me for it but ya'll still yell holla..."
"99 Problems" - This has to be my personal favorite on the disc. The rock beat from Rick Rubin is amazing! Everything about this track is completely brilliant. Jay raps about all his problems ("I got 99 problems and the b**ch ain't one") including trouble with the law, haters, etc.
"Public Service Announcement (Interlude)" - Not really a song but has a beat and stuff so its sorta like one. Very good beat, some hot lines to match it up as well.
"Justify My Thug" - Very personal track, but has a really hot beat on it so i like it anyway.
"Lucifer" - The production here is great, obviously Jay thinks so to ("You did it again, Kanye/you're a f****n' genius"). Lyrically brilliant, but i thought it was a little too short.
"Allure" - Not as hot as i would've liked it to be, but has some very good lyrical parts to it.
"My 1st Song" - The outro track, the one that defines the whole album, well, it defined it pretty damn good. Has a fitting beat with lyrical GOLD. Has a line from Notorious B.I.G at the beginning, which fits it very well. Basically, its short but to the point. The last minute or so is just Jay yelling out shout-outs like a typical outro-style track.
Overall, The Black Album suceeded my expectations. By using incredible producers and writing some of his best material, Jay-Z has formed an incredible ending to a story that will live on forever. There is no telling if Jay will stick with his plans, but all i know is that stepping out now will claim him as one of, if not the, hottest rappers to ever hit the mic.