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Vol. 2, Hard Knock Life Explicit Lyrics

4.2 out of 5 stars 460 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Explicit Lyrics, September 29, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Only an artist of Jay-Z's stature could have survived the indignity of In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, his stunningly poor second LP, and remain standing as one of the premier lyricists of his generation. Like Biggie did on Life After Death, Jay-Z diversifies his style here--with the Timbaland-laced "Nigga What, Nigga Who" and the dialogue "Coming of Age" (which revisits the young hustler from Jay-Z's first LP, Reasonable Doubt)--demonstrating that even when experimenting with flow, he can still crush his peers. Though the album falters notably at the end (the lazy funk of "Paper Chase," "Reservoir Dogs," and "It's Like That" could be safely cut without incident), Shawn Carter has nonetheless reclaimed his mantle as rap's leading don. --Jon Caramanica
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 29, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: September 29, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Explicit Lyrics
  • Label: Roc A Fella
  • ASIN: B00000AFF9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (460 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,393 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
There is a lot of hate around this album, mainly because it was the one that brought Jay-Z into the mainstream circuit.

It isn't as good as his previous 2 releases, Reasonable Doubt being certified classic by just about everyone who has heard it, and In My Lifetime being the most underrated album in the last decade, but it certainly does not disappoint.

'Hard Knock Life', the title track, won Jay-Z critical acclaim and heavy airplay all over America. It samples the chorus from the musical Annie, and with Jay-Z over the top of a simple drum and bass beat, it is an instant classic.

The next 2 songs, 'Ride Or Die' and 'If I Should Die' take it back to his hustling days, but give it a more mainstream feel than what he produced on his debut. The only criticism here is the theme of death being done twice in a row, but both songs are tight and produced well.

'Nigga What, Nigga Who' takes Jay-Z way back to his very early days when he used to rap as fast as Busta Rhymes, a style we virtually never see on his released work. The lyrics are great, delivered fast, and the collabo with Jaz O is a nice touch. Overall, a very underrated single, definitely deserved to perform better.

The next song, 'Money Cash Hoes', is definitely the beginning of the new Jay-Z focus. In later music, he enjoys flexing his masoginistic muscles, as well as flaunting the fact he is extremely rich. He got a lot of criticism over this song, and despite that and the theme of the song, it is still solid, and keeping in with Jay-Z's changing lifestyle. Good verse from DMX on there too.

The rest of the album is extremely solid. 'A Week Ago' showcases Jay-Z's storytelling ability, which we don't see enough anymore, 'Can I Get A...
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Format: Audio CD
Jay-Z began his career off with Reasonable Doubt sounding somewhat underground [which he actually was] and blazing rhymes/lyrics. If the game is the NBA and each album is a player then Reasonable Doubt was definitely "Rookie of the Year." In My Lifetime Vol. 1 signalled Jay-Z attempting to go a bit more mainstream but keeping it street and still in the gutter. It was a great mix.

Hard Knock Life Vol. 2 is, in my eyes, the best overall mainstream attempt by an originally underground artist. He uses the likes of producers from MANY backgrounds to give a very diverse sound that always sounds the right pitch in my ears. His first two albums were introducing one of the greats and Hard Knock Life signalled that Jay was here to stay.

This album was for sure the first to give Jay MAJOR air and video play. It was through this album that I was introduced to Jay and his unique sound and for many others, I'm SURE.

Intro f/ Memphis Bleek: Nice bad-ass intro making Jay appear to be some supreme gangster that can't be touched. Bleek [Jay's protege] rides the Primo beat very well in his first return on a Jay album since Reasonable Doubt [he was, like what, 15 when he debuted on that].

Hard Knock Life: I would have thought that using the theme from Annie would be corny and useless but, in a strange way, he uses it to make his hot lyrics and delivery much harder. His 1st signle is a sure-shot-hit that will stick in your head.

If I Should Die f/ Da Ranjahz: Hot song produced by Swizz Beats. Jay provied a classic and Da Ranjahz, whoever they are, are tight as well. They talk about what it would be like if they died and how to leave their legacies going. One of my favorites from the album.

Ride Or Die: One of the very few average songs. Still nice...
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When Jigga raps on the Blueprint album "read my rap sheet... three classics", I struggle to think which classics other than Reasonable Doubt he's referring to. I suppose Hard Knock Life was a hugely popular hit, does that make this album one of the three classics? The second couldn't be The Dynasty (that plays more like a Rocafella compilation, although it is quite good) and I doubt it's Volume 3 which is quite uneven, so that only leaves the sleek, polished In My Lifetime as the only other available candidate. But I digress. The best thing about this album is that it's quite short, which is actually very unusual for a hip-hop album in 1998. However, playing this album back to back with Reasonable Doubt is a surefire lesson in just how far mainstream hip-hop regressed in two short years.
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Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
A dope body of work. & my favorite joints are :

2. Hard knocks life
5. Jigga what jigga who
6. Money cash hoes
7. A week ago
9. Can I get a...
11. Reservoir dogs
13. It's alright
14. Money ain't a thang
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I purchased this album because Jay-Z stated that this is one his four "classic" albums. Hearing this LP in it's entirety has only reaffirmed my belief that The Camel's ego is severely inflated. Vol. 2 is filled to the brim with uninteresting lyrics and unengaging production. A garbage project from top to bottom.
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Format: Audio CD
It seems like a lot of reviewers are idiots and just want to bash Jay-Z.

Jay-Z's third album Hard Knock life was a boost in his commercial sucess. More money, more cash, more hoes...and what not comming to him. Ironically, he decides to take a dive in the subject on the song "Money, Cash, Hoes". His second single "Hard Knock Life" was a rememberable song, because it was played on the radio. No problem with that, but it was stuck in my head. "N***a What?, N***a Who?" (or Jigga What? Jigga Who?) is a fast paced song featuring Jaz-O and Amil. I have the edited version of this CD, and for some reason they took out the entire hook to the song, so I'm just left with blank spots as the chorus and Amil comming in as the song fades out. One of my favorite tracks is "Reservoir Dogs" with The Lox, Beanie Sigel, and Sauce Money. Another favorite track is "It's Alright" with Memphis Bleek, rapping decent, but the beat makes the song more enjoyable.

There are a few skippable tracks though. "Comming Of Age (Da Sequel)" is okay, but I like the first one on the Reasonable Doubt album. "Ride Or Die" and "If I Should Die" both sounds dry and slapped together. "Paper Chase" isn't all that good because Foxy Brown spits some trashy rhymes in the beginning. The well known hit "Can I Get A..." from the Rush Hour OST. I have the radio edited version of this album, but I've also heard the explicit version to the song and it sounds trashy because of it's heavy vulgarity (mostly comming from Amil).

Those are the only flaws on this album. Other than that, if you love Jay-Z or mainstream 1998 rap music, I recommend this to you.

Lyrics: B

Production: B+

Guest Appearances: C+

Fav Tracks: Hand It Down, Hard Knock Life, Jigga What..., Money Cash Hoes, A Week Ago, Reservoir Dogs, It's Alright, Money Ain't A Thang

P.S.- To the reviewer below me: If you hate rap and Jay-Z so much, why did you buy this album?
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