Jay-Z’s retirement in 2003 with the “Black Album” closed his career on such a high note, no one could touch him. When he came back in 2006 in with “Kingdom Come,” I had to ask myself, “Why?” Was he bored?
“Kingdom Come” sounded like a beginner trying to impress, and when I heard he was working on a new album, I was nervous that it was going to follow in that vein. Luckily, my fears were unfounded.
Inspired by the film, “American Gangster,” Jay-Z opens his 10th studio album with a sample of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington),
“The man I worked for had one of the biggest companies in New York City. He didn’t own his own company. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me, though.”
This can be said for Jay-Z, a man who hustled on the streets of New York to become one of the greatest rappers of all time. The smash single “Roc Boys” (which Rolling Stone named the 2007 song of the year), is a celebration of the good life…well Jay-Z’s life as he boast his crew are “the dope boys of the year”. And while the hustle can pay off there is always a downside, as reflected in “Pray” and “Fallin.”
Jay-Z raps with one-time beef partner Nas on “Success”. We’ve heard many artists talking about how empty success can be, but Jay-Z is also calling out what success has done to others around him “I’m pissed off, is this what success all about/A bunch of niggas acting like bitches with big mouths.”
Jay-Z builds a world on this album through the beats and lyrics and you believe every word he says because you know he’s seen it the game. This album stands with the “Black Album” and “The Blueprint.” If you don’t believe Jay-Z is one of the greatest rappers alive, then I don’t know what your problem is!