21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Hard knock life no longer,
This review is from: Vol. 2, Hard Knock Life (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...' is a great song, in which Jay expresses his dislike for gold diggers, and the bonus track, 'Money Ain't A Thang' is one of the best songs on the album.
Sure, Jay-Z has changed from rapping exclusively about hustling and snitching, but he is only trying to keep it real, and at the moment, what's real in Jay-Z's life is money, bitches and fame. Doesn't deserve any criticism, a great release.