Home Read Classic Album Review: Jay-Z | The Black Album

Classic Album Review: Jay-Z | The Black Album

The legendary rapper leaves you wanting more with his so-called final album.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


“What more can I say?” Jay-Z asks rhetorically and boastfully on The Black Album, his self-proclaimed swan song.

What more indeed? Over seven studio albums in as many years, the rapper born Shawn Carter has said what he meant, done what he wanted and achieved both commecial success and critical acclaim. And he’s done it without getting shot, going to prison (though he’s come close) or dating J.Lo. That calls for a celebration — and that’s more or less what his supposed final disc is. Over the course of 14 bumptious tracks tracks and 53 funky minutes, the articulate Brooklynite with the conversational flow throws himself a goodbye party. He reminisces about his old days as a hustler. He settles a few old scores. He invites his mom up to say a few words. He has some last laughs with big-name guests like Eminem, The Neptunes, Timbaland and even Rick Rubin (who helms the thumping rap-rocker 99 Problems, one of Jay’s heaviest and catchiest tracks in years). He even ponders his legacy in rhymes like, “I’m supposed to be No. 1 on everybody’s list / We’ll see what happens when I no longer exist.” Ultimately, though, with The Black Album, Jay-Z does what every entertainer is supposed to do: He leaves you wanting more.