Tag Archives: Jay-Z

Acclaimed Albums – Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z

List item: Listen to the 1000 Most Acclaimed Albums
Progress: 341/1000
Title: Reasonable Doubt
Artist: Jay-Z
Year: 1996

Things are starting to get closer to crunch time at work, so I am not sure how much longer I am going to be able to keep up this pace on the albums list. Music is such a big mood stabilizer for me that I end up leaning more on genres and artists that are sure things or are going to calm me down – which is one of the many reasons I have been trying to more or less fast-track the hip-hop albums. I know albums by the likes of Vampire Weekend and Massive Attack will be easy wins down the line. Then again, I am nearly seven months ahead so does it really matter if I am writing less.

Anyway, in that spirit, I went for Jay-Z’s debut album next. Firstly, because I quite liked The Blueprint and thought this would be an easy win (which it was), but also because after 2Pac I felt like I needed to dive back into rap sooner rather than later or it would become a bit of a roadblock again.

Compared to The Blueprint, Reasonable Doubt is one of those rap albums that doesn’t feel like he was looking to make radio play. Instead this debut was to make his mark, which it undoubtedly did. To think that he made his own independent record label as he couldn’t get a deal and this was one of the many things that made his ridiculous amounts of money.

In the context of the other rap albums I have been listening to from this time, Reasonable Doubt sounds effortlessly cool, does not rely on the misogyny and feels like one of the first albums to perpetuate the kind of high-rolling lifestyle that is now a staple. That isn’t to say earlier albums didn’t boast about money, but this moves the focus to opulence than just making it rain.

Acclaimed Albums – The Blueprint by Jay-Z

Acclaimed Music just had a major update, so the Top 250 have shifted somewhat – between my gains and loses I am just three albums further from the end. Not too bad!

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 224/250Title: The Blueprint
Artist: Jay-Z
Year: 2001
Position: #124

There’s no rest for the wicked. There’s a bunch of things that need to be run before I sign off before a (very much needed) two weeks off work, so taking this as an opportunity to listen to a list album as most of what I need to do is run code and check it. It’s good in a twisted way because I wasn’t sure when I would fit in time to do this write up during my planned two weeks of movies, games, cooking and… whatever else I can do in these corona-times.

By now I think it is pretty obvious that I ended up leaving the bulk of the hip-hop albums until the end of the list. There are others, including Radiohead’s Kid A and Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young, but in terms of percentages there is a pattern. In a way I think this has worked out for the better as I am now far more receptive to these albums compared to when I started my blog back in March 2014.

Going into The Blueprint, the only thoughts I really had around Jay-Z were that video of him getting his butt kicked by Solange and that I set up my iTunes to cut his rap out of ‘Umbrella’. Now that I have gotten through a few plays of his most acclaimed album, I realise that this may be one of my favourite male-led hip-hop albums of all time. Tracks like ‘All I Need’ and ‘Takeover’ sound brilliant and even my initial cringe over the beginning refrain of ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ disappeared quickly.

This is never going to be my favourite genre and these albums on the list are the jewels in the crown, but The Blueprint, like Illmaticare replayable to me – which is a major step for me. I think part of this is helmed by the early Kanye West production and the increased use of interesting samples compared to other hip-hop albums I have heard for the list.

Still can’t take anyone seriously who uses the phrase ‘fo shizzle my nizzle’ though. There has to be a line.