JAY-Z – “Reasonable Doubt” Released June 25th 1996
01. Cant knock The Hustle w/Mary J Blige (5:17)
02. Politics As Usual (3:41)
03. Brooklyn’s Finest w/ Notorious B.I.G (4:36)
04. Dead Presidents II [New Lyrics] (4:27)
05. Feelin It w/Mecca (3:48)
06. D’Evils (3:31)
07. 22 Two’s (3:29)
08. Can I Live (4:10)
09. Ain’t No Nigga w/Foxxy Brown (4:03)
10. Friend Or Foe (1:49)
11. Coming Of Age w/Memphis Bleek (3:59)
12. Cashmere Thoughts (2:56)
13. Bring It On w/Big Jaz & Sauce Money (5:01)
14. Regrets (4:34)
15. Can’t Knock The Hustle [Fools Paradise] w/Meli’sa Morgan (4:46)
PRODUCTION: DJ Premier, Clark Kent, Big Jaz, Irv Gotti, Ski, Knowbody & Damon Dash
Billboard 1996 No.23 (Album)
Billboard 1997 No.70 (Album)
Hot Rap Singles No.7 “Can’t Knock The Hustle”
Born Shawn Carter in Marcy Projects of Brooklyn NY Dec 4 1970, Jay-Z, as we know him as Jigga introduced himself to the game with his debut “Reasonable Doubt” in mid 1996. With tracks like “Can’t Knock The Hustle” & “Ain’t No Nigga” hittin charts back in the day. Jay-Z introduces himself in this album as the smooth hustler from Brooklyn NY rapping about the struggle in the hustle, money, and rising to the top.
DJ Premier laces a few tracks with his typical Gangstarr sound with scratch samples on the Eastcoast deep flow of “D’Evils” where Jigga flows that NY style which many believe compare to Nas’ “Illmatic”. Jiggas features include artists who were rookies in the game & you can hear rappers like Foxxy Brown on “Aint No Nigga” bust her rhymes hungry to break through the game as Big Jaz laced the track wit a sample of “Seven Minutes Of Funk” by The Whole Darn Family.
“Cant Knock The Hustle” with Mary J Blige blows up and gives you that Brooklyn style funk as she sings on the hook and Jig flows naturally to the beat “Factions from the otherside would love to kill me, spill 3 course of my blood/into the street let alone & heat, *****’em”. Another soulful beat is “Dead Presidents II” where Jig raps about the paper chase & the hustle he been through, with production by Ski on this track you can see the classic of this track grow once again even today.
The controversial “Brooklyn’s Finest” produced by DJ Clark Kent & co-produced by Damon Dash featuring BIG causes confusion with 2pac fans to whether or not it is aimed as a dis as BIG spits “Who Shot Ya” and “If Faith had twins she would have two pacs..get it 2..pacs” the beat is a nice old school sampled beat along with most the production, which became a typical sound on Roc-A-Fellas tracks into the future. This album most recognized for Jiggas hustle like flow & his ability to blend with the old school beats spiced up showed critics how a young nigga from the projects can rock the mic and represent his city.
All his features are all new comers to the game & you can hear there efforts to spit lyrically as Memphis Bleek raps crazy on “Coming Of Age” and Sauce Money tears the mic on “Bring It On”. Irv Gotti, Murder Inc, even has his share of production on tracks like “Can I Live” & “Cant Knock The Hustle Remix” which are not top highlights on the album as they pump out the same kind of style other NY niggas were doin back in 96 & start to sound alike.
With his Scarface influences i see how Jigga tried to break through just like Scarface wanted to do, make a name for himself, which he did. All production is pretty tight apart from a short track “22 Two’s” a short talented freestyle though “Friend Or Foe” which lacked room for Jigga to bust & “Feelin It” which people were’nt feelin as Mecca’s hooks were not in place. This album was bumpin back in the day & you can still hear these tracks today & bop your head to most of them especially real rap lovers of all styles.
This debut album by Jay-Z would have to be one of his best even though rap was different in 96, lyrically he tore the mic as he comes across cool & calm & he had an excellent flow as his rappin purified the tracks. Production was good as long as Jay could flow to the beat & callabos were hungry niggas wanting to make a name for themselves…..a bumpin eastcoast album which cleared the way for fellow Brooklyn rappers & one of NY’s best rap albums of the 90’s..Hard to rate but here go….