THE BLACK ALBUM
Jay’s eighth album in as many years (“There’s never been a nigga this good for this long”) wasn’t his biggest album but it feels like it was because his phony “retirement” and his new relationship with Beyoncé turned it into a cultural event. Mingling triumph with elegy, his “victory lap” was an autobiographical blockbuster that summed up his journey “from Marcy to Madison Square” by describing the pain as well as the glory. From the sample of Russell Crowe in Gladiator on What More Can I Say to the pulverising, Rick Rubinproduced rock-rap throwback 99 Problems, his arrogance is exhilarating. He even quotes Julius Caesar on Encore: “I came, I saw, I conquered.” It isn’t hubris if it works.
Listen To: 99 Problems