Top positive review
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Jay-Z in top form
on 13 November 2004
Hardcore hip-hop fans generally dis Jay-Z because he's too succesful and isn't 'underground' anymore. Sure he went a bit mainstream between Reasonable Doubt and Blueprint, which he admits on the song 'Moment of Clarity' (" I dumned down for my audience to double my dollas. They criticise me for it yet they all yell 'Holla'"), but those two albums alone deserve him to be remembered for ever. As you know The Black Album is Jay-Z's last proper solo album and it's good to see he ended his carreer with such quality. Highlights include 'December 4th', rapping about his childhood; '99 Problems', which is slightly strange at first hearing but grows on you and is something different with it's loud rocky beat; and 'Public Service Announcement', which is a tour de force of lyrical wordplay and is lyrically the strongest song on the album ("I check cheddar like a food inspector"... whenever there's a drought get your umbrellas out because that's when I brainstorm"). However, all the songs are good, from the un-relenting 'Threat', to the Timbaland produced 'Dirt of Your Shoulder' with the only slightly wek songs being 'Change Clothes' (it's this kind of song which gets Jay slagged by hardcore rap fans) and 'Lucifer'.
So basically, if you like hip-hop at all you need this album. This is the perfect memorial to the career of HOV. R.I.P.