Jay Z is without a doubt one of HipHop´s greatest. All the way through his 7 years long career he has set various trends, released a lot of hit singles and flooded the market with 8 solo Albums (not counting his Best of both worlds project with R.Kelly) . 14th of November all this comes to an end, that’s the date Jiggas 9th and last Album The Black Album drops. On this album he comes with no guest spots and a good mixture of Hip Hop`s star-producers as well as some refreshing newcomers on the beat.
1. Interlude (Produced by Just Blaze)
This Intro is very unusual for a Jay Z album, unlike most of the time Jigga doesn´t drop a verse, it’s just a kinda strange beat played over a long sample from a movie. Sounds like something Common would have done for one of his albums. It does indeed sound dope… but I really waited for another The Ruler´s Back (Blueprint Intro). No rating
2. December 4th (Produced by Just Blaze)
December 4th is the first actual song on this album, Jigga talks about himself growing up and his life before entering the music business. The special thing about this track is that Jay Z’s mother talks about her son on the intro to every verse and he works her words in his lyrics. The concept works very well to me and Hova comes quite nice with his lyrics. Just Blaze did a good job with the beat too which makes this a very good song, tight way to start the album off.Rating : 4.5/5
3. What more can I say (Produced by the Buchanans)
This song starts with a sample from the Movie “Gladiator” followed by 3 verses in which Jay Z explains himself and touches on some things that have been said about him. He also talks to the people that call him a biter for constantly having Biggie lines in his verses, I´m not a biter/I´m a writer/for myself and others/I say a BIG verse I´m only biggin up my brother/Biggin up my borough/ I´m big enough to do it/I´m that thoro/ plus I know my own flow is foolish is all he has to say to shut these acusers up. The Buchanans are new producers to me but they really caught my attention with this hot beat, let´s see what else we´re going to hear from them.
4. Encore (Produced by Kanye West)
Kanye West and Jay Z allways fit together extremly well but this song is not just another great Jay/Kanye song but also one of the Black Album`s highlights and maybe even Kanye West´s best beat up to this day. Jigga talks about various things (including some of the usual self-praising) over some extremly sick horn samples. Jigga´s delivery, one of his strengths as usual, is on point and his lyrics are very entertaining. This song is definitely a gem
5. Change Clothes (Produced by the Neptunes)
Here we have the Black Album`s first single, one of two Neptuns beats on it Change clothes has a real mellow beat, unfortunately it also sounds a little boring and just doesn´t strike me like the previous beats on the Black Album. Jigga´s lyrics aren´t actually striking either, his verses are not really bad but nothing special really. The worst about this song is the hook which is done by Pharell … this whole track just sounds like a “Excuse me Miss pt.3” . Worst song to me
Rating ; 2.5/5
6. Dirt off your shoulder (Produced by Timbaland)
After the first let down on the Album I´m happy to hear Timbo deliver one of his best beats in a while. A song with this beat, jigga´s flow and a tight hook like this should be a guaranteed hit. Jay Z brings back his pimpin on this songs and it works extremly well. Another banger !
Rating : 5/5
7. Threat (Produced by 9th Wonder)
Hip Hop´s newest uprising Producer 9th Wonder (from the Justus League Camp) sampled R.Kelly´s “A Woman`s Threat” for this song and made a good beat for his first appereance on a major LP. On the intro of Threat Cedric the Entertainer does some shit talking , which doesn´t really fit the track in my opinion. Jigga´s lyrics go in the same direction, it´s a random shit talk track that contains a lot of hot lines. I´m not to sure with this song.. eventhough I actually liked it, it´s still not as good as a lot of other songs on this Album.
Rating : 3.5/5
8. Moment of clarity (Produced by Eminem)
Moment of clarity deals with Jigga´s career and his views on the industry. Jigga also talks about his father in the first verse. The violin sample makes this a very good Eminem beat , to me it seems like Em has stepped his production-game up during the last few months he´s becoming a quiet good producer. Jay Z brings the heat once again, he has some hot lines and talks a lot of real talk on this song. With If Skills sold/Thruth be told/ I´d probly be/lyrically Talib Kweli/truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense he gives us insight on why he allways had to release some poppy singles and states that he really is into real hiphop music. Very tight song , the Black Album seems to be living up the expectations.
Rating : 5/5
9. 99 Problems (Produced by Rick Rubin)
This is a very entertaining track with a crazy beat. Rick Rubin used guitar samples to make this beat, which makes this song really rockish. Jay Z graced the track with an absolutly creative flow that sounds old school as hell. His bragging lyrics (the 2nd verse is ill) came on point too. Rick Rubin should really produce more hiphop beats again. This is just another standout track.
Rating : 5/5
10. Public Service Announcement (Produced by Just Blaze)
The third Just Blaze produced Song on the Black Album appears to be the interlude to the last part of the album. Just Blaze used the same sample as Black Moon’s “Stay Real” for this one, the whole beat sounds very similar to this. Still this is a tight beat. Jigga doesn´t fail to spit some hot shit on this one either, his flow is just crazy on this dark beat. Very tight but very short song.
Rating : 4.5/5
11. Justify my thug (Produced by DJ Quik)
Here we have the long awaited Dj Quik beat for the Black Album. Well, I was pretty excited hearing about the Westcoast allstar-producer being on there, but I have to say that I´m slightly dissapointed with his effort. The beat really isn´t wack, but I hoped Quik would have one of the standout songs, atleast beat wise that didn’t happen. The lyrics Jigga laced on the song can´t really safe it either, like the track title implies, the song is just about bragging and justifiyng his gangsta. Jigga did this job well…still this random gangsta talk can´t hang with the rest of this album. This track is solid at best.
Rating : 3/5
12. Lucifer (Produced by Kanye West)
Here comes Mr. Kanye West (Check for his Album “College Dropout” in january 2004 !) again, just like Encore this is a great beat, Kanye marks his place as one of the best current Hip Hop producers in the game. Jigga rides this beat with just another tight flow and as usual he spits heat. It´s really a blessing for Hip Hop that these two (Jay and Kanye) found eachother, this combo brought us some great music.
Rating : 5/5
13. Allure (Produced by the Neptunes)
Just like Kanye West and Just Blaze (not counting the Intro) the Neptunes made 2 Tracks for Jay Z´s last album. While the other 2 delievered some serious heat the Neptunes had the only bad track on the Black Album so far. Just likeChange clothes and go this beat is really laid back, but this time it works. Jigga softened his flow for this song and tells us about his life , this could be Jigga’s most personal Album ever, it wouldn´t be a Jay Z album though if there wasn´t some bragging going on. The Neptunes/JayZ collabos didn’t let us down twice this time!
Rating : 4/5
14. My 1st Song (Produced by Aqua)
This might be the last Jay Z song we`ll ever hear (eventhough I really doubt it !) : It starts of with an old Biggie snippet of Biggie talking about “staying hungry” (don’t laugh!). Then you get Jigga spitting an incredible flow for this beatiful beat ! Aqua’s beat as well as Jay’s lyrics make this a good ending for the album. To make sure it´s the end of his Album, better yet the end of his career as an MC, Jigga gives shout outs to some of his friends and industry people at the end of My 1st Song. Nice ending for a nice album !
Rating : 4.5/5
Jay Z promised us one of his best albums ever, and the Black Album really is ! Great album full of bangers, even if you ain’t into Jigga’s music usualy you’d surely find some songs that you would like, everybody will find different favorites on the Black Album. The album seems well structured from beginning to end and even the few let downs fit into the tone of the album. Jigga didn’t focus on hot lines and methapors on this Album but trys to give us insight on his thoughts on personal and public things, mix that with his tight flows (and he really doesn’t have just one) and some tight production work : a great album is what you get. This would be a worthy end for Jay Z’s career, if this really is his last album. I don’t know what will happen in the future… but for now Pain in da Ass said it best on Vol.3 : So.. five ten years from now : You’re gonna wish there was American Commision , Five ten years from now…They’re gonna miss Jay-Z
Album Rating : 4.5/5