Being a Jigga fan since '96, this is, in my opinion, the classic Jay-Z album. From all of his releases, I feel that this highlights Jay-Z's finest years, and broke barriers, at least for Mr Carter. His finest works are on here, with the likes of Mary J. Blige and The Notorious B.I.G, and although some rapper's first album's are very gritty and raw, this is smooth, crisp and well produced - an asset to Jay-Z and Roc-a-fella records.
The very gangsta look portrayed in the pinstripe suits and silk scarves Jay-Z wears are backed up by such hard tracks as "Brooklyn's Finest" (with Biggie contributing beautifully to this) and the original "Friend or Foe", yet combined with the more smooth, even emotional "Can I Live" and "D'evils". Other more up-beat tracks include his first single, "Ain't No Ni**a", featuring none other than Foxxy Brown, and 22 Two's, an spot of Jigga genius combined with a little hint of the old-school, with A Tribe Called Quest line. Finally, the starting track, "Can't Knock The Hustle" cannot be passed over - with Mary's voice in the chorus and backing through the song, and with Jay-Z's sharp lyrics, this album is a winner. Jay-Z has "the Godfather flow", and is the "Michael Corleone of the microphone"!