November 14, 2003: To many around the world “Hip-Hop was dying” as Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter was officially leaving the game for real this time [See Hard Knock Life Vol.2 album] to never return, leaving the rap game up for grabs as he dropped a parting gift called “The Black Album”
Needless to say Hov went out with a BANG! Depending on how old you are this may even have been your introduction to Jay-Z and quite possibly your favorite Jay album.
This album is very informative to say the least from December 4th to My First song. This album gives your the birth of Mr. Carter, runs the list of Jay’s accolades and if nothing else brings the debate on why he’s not number 1 on everybody’s list. Jay had the masses “changing clothes”, “looking for a Beyonce”, more songs like Encore and 99 Problems were being created and it even influenced other rappers to claim the top spot since the then time hands down vote getter was bowing out.
“Can’t leave rap alone the game needs me” – Jay-Z
Oh how true his words were. Jay dropped features. Not a ton but, enough to make people crazy and basically beg him to come back. Lending assist to Bleek, Jeezy, Ross, Kanye and a couple mixtape spots just wasn’t enough and by 2006…He was officially back…So essentially the Retirement turned into a vacation.
Has this album appreciated? I say heck yeah! Pharrell, Just Blaze, 9th Wonder, Timbaland and Kanye West on production and Jay sending out one last reminder of who he is and how he should be remembered…Shoot just listen to this album AFTER you hear MCHG and there is your answer.
Although I am still a purchaser of Jay’s product I will admit that in his return he’s been hit or miss or given a pass because “That’s Jay”…He’s not trash by any means..he’s just so rich that even his stories and bars just don’t hit my radar at times. Not his fault. Success should do that to a man. Not mad at all.
The Black Album had December 4th, What More Can I Say, Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Allure, Threats, Encore, PSA, Moment of Clarity, 99 Problems, Lucifer….C’mon man…I just basically named the whole album! This Joint was HARD AS HAIL!
You don’t like this album…You a Jay Hater, plain and simple. This may honestly be the last epic moment album wise of Jay’s career. Not that he’s done nothing great lately…but the energy, motivation and the need to feed hip-hop one last time…I just doubt that it’s possible to capture it for something this great again.