Jay-Z compared the studio to “a psychiatrist’s couch” while making the album that he still considers his best. Already a relatively ancient 26, he had been plotting his debut during his long years in the crack game and wanted to represent the hustler mindset, not just the lifestyle. The title twists a legal phrase into an expression of the fear and regret that lurked beneath the ice-cold swagger. Riding crisp, hard beats from producers such as DJ Premier and Clark Kent, he managed to sound utterly commanding yet also vulnerable and lonely, making this a classic East Coast debut to file alongside Illmatic and Ready To Die. The Notorious BIG guests on Brooklyn’s Finest, an unrepeatable encounter between two New York legends.
Listen To: Dead Presidents II