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The Black Album

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iTunes Review

No one could have known just how visible Jay-Z would remain after needling detractors with “Maybe you’ll love me when I fade to black” in the opening minutes of his “final” release, 2003’s Black Album. But credit his skills for a resonance that the album holds even after his official return to performance. His mom’s spoken reminiscences of Shawn Carter’s childhood on “December 4th” help set the elegiac yet boastful mood, while “Encore” and “What More Can I Say” shade that vibe into a “My Way”-style claim to immortality. After that opening trilogy, he mostly drops the conceit and just rocks the mic, with the help of some of the most imaginative tracks he’s ever used. Rick Rubin hooks up Mountain and Billy Squier samples for the philosophical “99 Problems,” while Jay describes a traffic stop in one of his most trenchant verses. Kanye West’s reggae stylee-zation (the sampled voice is Max Romeo’s) on “Lucifer” adds aural depth to a gun-laden cautionary tale. And the Neptunes provide a soft-soul bed for “Allure.” That cut’s allusion to Michael Corleone sounds prophetic in light of “the worst retirement ever:" “Every time I felt that was that, it called me right back.”

Customer Reviews

The greatest farewell

I love and hate this album. I hate this album because it makes me have to say good bye to one of the greatest MCs to ever pick up the mic. I love it because the songs are epic and can not possibly be ignored of forgotten by anyone. Although Jay-Z is only retiring from solo performances this album does still signify the end of a very great era. Despite how they may try no one will ever be able to replace Jay-Z as a rap artist.

Why must the gangster leave young?

jay-z has always been my favorite rapper and im sad that hes leavin but at least this album is great! P.S. do not buy this off itunes buy it at ur local records store (they left out songs in itunes version)


this album was great but 99 problems, psa, and december 4th arent there, what is in ur head, aanyway jay z is the best rapper ever buy it from a store, but jay z rules the rap industry


Born: December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Embodying the rags-to-riches rap dream, Jay-Z pulled himself up by his bootstraps as a youth to eventually become the reigning rapper of New York City and, in turn, a major-label executive following his short-lived retirement from music-making. In the wake of his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z's albums sold millions upon millions with each release, and his endless parade of hits made him omnipresent on urban radio and video television. He retained a strongly devoted fan base and challenged whatever...
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