Jay-Z – American Gangster

Jay-Z - American GangsterShawn Carter has done it again. After a mediocre and not-so-well recieved comeback album only a year earlier, Jay has returned with an album he says was inspired by the release of the film “American Gangster”, a film based on the life of notorious 70’s heroin kingpin – Frank Lucas. The album is described as Jay’s return to his hustling lure, and features production from the Neptunes, Diddy, and Jermaine Dupri among others, as well as guest spots from Nas, Beanie Sigel, and suprisingly Lil Wayne.

1.) Intro

The album starts off with an exerpt from the film of the same name, followed by the true definition of a “gangster” over epic production. Although Jay doesn’t bless the mic on this one, it sets the album up properly.

2.) Pray

This song starts off with a somber prayer, as a pounding instrumental can be heard building up in the background. From there Jay takes the oppurtunity to produce one of his best tracks in years. Jay’s hunger can be heard in the emotion of his vocals (“Hey young world, wanna hear a story?/Close your eyes, and you can pretend your me”). Fans of the ‘Blueprint’ and Jay’s best work will certainly enjoy this track. Perfect way to open up the album.

3.) American Dreamin’

Before the album’s release Jay mentioned a track featuring Marvin Gaye samples, and after hearing this track, it’s obvious this was the track he reffered to. Production is top notch on this track, as Marvin’s mellow chorus and Jay’s whisper-esque flow blend perfectly with the instrumental. Although not better than the previous track, this is clearly another one of the album’s highlights.

4.) Hello Brooklyn 2.0 feat. Lil Wayne

This is obviously one collaboration that most fans would’ve doubted would ever happen. After seemingly taking shots at each other for almost a year, President Carter called on rap’s hottest prospect (Lil Wayne) to bless a track dedicated to the home of Jay. Unlike “Renegade” or “Black Republicans”, this is more or less Jay and Wayne going back and forth giving props to Brooklyn, NY. Although production is shaky at times, and the repetitive screaming in the background can get annoying, this song has still surpassed the standards rap has set for today’s era. Decent song.

5.) No Hook

“I’m more of Frank Lucas than Ludacris” just about sums this track up. Over a very soulful sample, complete with a bass guitar built for this track, Jay takes it back to his hustling days. This song is very reminiscent of the 70’s era, as Jay dismisses the need for a hook as he takes you back to his time of hustlin caine in the Marcy Projects, while also sending a warning to any rapper trying to dethrone the King. Great track.

6.) Roc Boys (And The Winner Is…)

Unlike ‘Kingdom Come’, this song (and most likely the album’s 2nd single) features Jay serving up a more polished flow, while at the same time declaring the rightful return of Rocafella Records. Diddy’s “feel good” production, combined with Jay’s apparent new found excitement for the game, make for another good track.

7.) Sweet

One of the reasons this album has managed to feel so live and fresh, is Jay’s decision to have a more live feeling by adding a live band. While production is very strong, the only fault of this track is that it does sound like Jay freestyled his entire verse. This combined with a hook less-than-great hook make for a mediocre song.

8.) I Know

Any fan of Jay-Z knows that some of his biggest commercial songs have come courtesy of The Neptunes. This track is no different, as Pharrell croons the hook in the smoothest manner possible, with Jay flowing perfectly over the Neptunes soothing production. This is one of the tracks on the album with a different feel, and easily outdoes any track on Jay’s previous album.

9.) Party Life

Production is very mellowed out, as Jay gets punchline happy, with smooth singing in the background. While detailing how he’s so ‘off the wall’ he might as well be a young Michael Jackson, Jay calms down for this track; which proves to be a good breaking point in the album. Good song.

10.) Ignorant Shit feat. Beanie Sigel

The return of two of the Roc’s premier members over a soulful sample (also used for Jim Jones’ “Summer In Miami”) sounds like a perfect combination…and ends up being just that. After addressing those doubting his thought provoking songs, Jay sarcastically gives the people “the ignorant shit you like”, by taking jabs at how simple and self absorbed hip hop has come to be.

11.) Say Hello

Taking a page from Scarface, this is Jay over more mellow production. Unfortunately, he seems a little lazy not only with the hook, but with his verses as well. Production is the highlight of this track, as Jay tries explain how he is no “ordinary nigga” even before he was known as Jigga, but ultimatley fails in making this song the classic it had the potential to be.

12.) Success feat. Nas

After their critically acclaimed collaboration “Black Republicans” on Nas’s ‘Hip Hop Is Dead’ last year, The God MC & Nastradamus return for “Success”. Over a pounding organ influenced production, Jay sets off the track with a strong display of lyricism (“I used to give a *****, now I give a ***** less/What do I think of success?, it sucks, too much stress”), and continues an amazing display of charisma, before passing the track to Nas, who sounds as hungry as he did on previous classics. After famously deading their beef two years ago, it’s becoming apparent that the co-K.O.N.Y.’s sound so much better on a track, than they do going at each other on a track. Classic song.

13.) Fallin’

This track is without a doubt the best song on the album. Everything from production (courtesy of Jermaine Dupri), to subject matter, and finally lyricism is shown. Jay details the struggle of the game (in a mode very reminscent of “Reasonable Doubt”), and sounds just as hungry as he did 10 years ago with such clever wordplay:

“…talking tough on the youtube, bout what you used to do
but’s that oldschool to the new crew, they doin numbers like Seduku”

14.) American Gangster

Much like last year’s “Show Me What You Got”, this is uptempo production courtesy of longtime collaborator Just Blaze. However unlike “Show Me What You Got”, this track is more of Jay in his true element. Describing how he is the ultimate ‘American Gangster’, this track has a very 70’s blaxploitation feel. Discussing the breakup of the Roc, and the rumors of an illegitimate child, all while maintaining a perfected flow, Jay takes this track where no other artist could making for another classic track.

15.) Blue Magic

Although Jay himself stated that this was a conceptual album, this track (and also the album’s first single) has a very different feel from the rest of the disc. The beat is not one of the Neptunes best, and although Jay manages to provide some quotables (“Niggas wanna bring the 80’s back/That’s okay with me, that’s where they made me at”), the song as a whole doesn’t blend well with the rest of the production and theme.

So after a dissapointing comeback album in”Kingdom Come”, it appears Jay has found the motivation he needed to produce the soon-to-be classic (even if it was inspired by a Denzel Washington film) “American Gangster.” This album should disregard any doubt that Jay still has the ability to make good records, while showcasing his hustler mentality over soulful instrumentals (credit Jermaine Dupri, Diddy, Just Blaze, and Bigg D). Although not on the level of “Blueprint” or “Reasonable Doubt”, this will still remain as one of Jay’s better albums.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Jay-Z – The Black Album

Jay-Z - The Black AlbumJay 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.
Rating 4/5

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
Rating: 5/5

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

Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt

Jay-Z - Reasonable DoubtJAY-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….


R. Kelly & Jay-Z – Best of both worlds

R. Kelly & Jay-Z - Best of both worldsAfter making the song “Fiesta” a big hit. They decided to make the first Rap/Rnb duo-album. Well are they the “Best of both worlds”, lets find out.


1. The best of both worlds

The first track is kind of an intro for the album. Jay’s dropping heat while R Kelly’s doing some tight singing in the background. The beat is tight and it’s a good way to start the album. They should have made it longer, tho.

2. Take you home with me A.k.A body

This track is on some tight club shit. I like the beat, and the bass is hitting really hard and will make you nod your head. R. Kelly is tight on the hook and Jay is dropping a few nice verses. This track’s very similar to “Fiesta”.

3. Break up to make up

R. Kelly starts this song off with some tight singing and Jay’s spitting tight shit here too, but the track gets boring after a while. It’s an average track.

4. It ain’t personal

Jay and R Kelly go deep over a tight laid-back beat. The track is about how they came up and all the hate they get. This song is tight and in my opinion one of the best of this album.

5. The streets

Man! This is the shit. The whole album should be like this song right here. Tight banging beat and tight drops from both of them. This song is classic. Easily there best song they’ve ever done together.

6. Green light feat Beanie Sigel

The beat on “Green light” is wack. Jay and Beanie’s coming out wack too. The only good part was R Kelly’s verse. R. Kelly’s also throwing a few disses at Sisqo.

7. Naked (R Kelly solo)

R Kelly goes solo here. The track is tight, but it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. It sounds like a leftover track from “Tp2.com”.

8. Shake ya body feat Lil Kim

Another track with R.Kelly doing the main part. Kim and Jay suck on this one, and the beat is average at best. Overall it’s a wack song.

9. Somebody’s girl

“Somebody’s girl” is some playa shit. The song is good but Jay-Z and R. Kelly don’t exactly impress me here. The beat’s tight tho and it’s carrying the entire song.

10. Get this money

Finally we get a tight, banging beat. The track is on some ballin shit and I play it in my car a lot. R Kelly and Jay’s verses are ok but the hook is tight and catchy. Nice track.

11. Shorty

“Shorty” is another track on this album with a tight production. R. Kelly starts it of with a tight verse while throwing some disses at Sisqo. Jay’s doing his job. The hook is simple yet catchy. Overall a tight song.

12. Honey

This track has got an up tempo beat. I believe the track is sampled from an old school song. I can’t remember which one tho Jay-Z’s doing all the verses, and he’s doing it well. R. Kelly’s doing his thing on the hook. I’m not sure, but I think this was the first and only single from this album.

13. ***** feat Devin The Dude

Last song on the album features the underrated rapper Devin The Dude. The lyrics are funny but very true. The beat and hook is cool and it’s a good way to finish the album.


Overall, I got to say that I’m very disappointed with this album. I don’t understand how these two tight artists could make an album as weak as this one. Maybe I was expecting too much, I don’t know, but this album could and should have been much better. There are way to many club tracks and a lot of the tracks are just fillers. The rest of them just don’t fit in. R Kelly Cleary outshined Jay Z on every song, and he should have been laying more verses. The features on this album didn’t impress me either.

I would only recommend this album if you are a big fan of one or both of these artists.

I rate this album 3 of 5 stars