The Hip Hop Mortuary

"I wax lyrics so poetic even the most narcoleptic skeptic feels awake and perceptive"

3:32 PM

Jay-Z/ Reasonable Doubt

Posted by Guy Fawkes

Before he had enough money to fill an Olympic sized pool, Hovito was an disgruntled cocaine dealer who decided to give rap a try... and it turns out he was alright at it. As legend goes, Jay started out appearing in Jaz-O tracks... then featuring in Daddy Kane tracks... but not making enough money, started a record label known as Roc-A-Fella Records, with his cronies Damon Dash and Kareem Burke. Once word got around, Ski (Camp Lo producer) offered Jay a few instrumentals... Clark Kent, and Primo later joined after discovering Jay's potential. And even Biggie decided to offer a feature job... that's what unsigned hype used to mean. This album is considered a classic, and the epitome of "Mafioso Rap", so is it worthy of your collection? I'll help you decide:

The Good:

2. Politics As Usual- Just an introduction to Sean Carter's unique flow... but you have to wait for the final verse if you want to witness Hov's equally unique lyricism.

3. Brooklyn's Finest- The aforementioned Biggie feature, notice the rap-battle aspect of this song. And you might notice Superman's superb production job... and maybe the lyricism (maybe).

4. Dead Presidents II- With one instrumental change, you go from playful to somber. People just don't make beats like this anymore, nor do people even approach Jay's lyricism on this track. This song is so much more than simply a hip hop classic. Say what you want about the subject matter, but it cannot be examined more poetically than this.

5. Feelin It'- A last second Jay record, this was supposed to be a Camp Lo track... but Jay murders this track and exhibits his flow versatility. And the hook... it's pretty good.

6. D'evils- This song is the reason that Jay is still a legend after making "Kingdom Come", why Preemo is still a legend even though he now works with Christina Aguilera and The Black Eyed Peas, and the reason Snoop still has a job and a reality show. (I may have went a little far... but you get what I'm saying... this song is really fucking good.

7. 22 Two's- The ever-necessary "Fuck The Haters" song. The song structure is kind of lame, but it still sounds pretty good.

8. Can I Live- I'm guessing Beyonce can answer the question pretty thoroughly... but I can tell you that this song is classic, "I'd rather die enormous, than live dormant".

13. Bring It On- The instrumental sounds somewhat like "Kick, Push", and the Kid Capri sample fits the vibe perfectly. This Roc-A-Fella autobiography is narrated in a real gritty way... and with the right members (Big Jaz and Sauce Money mentored Jay for years).

14. Regrets- Slow chill beat, equipped with chilling lyrics by a guilt ridden Sean Carter.

People nowadays mention the word "classic" in every other sentence... some call "Tha Carter III" a classic, and some call every Nas album a classic... when you use a word so liberally, it's overall importance and value greatly diminishes. I don't call albums classics unless they are classics... "Illmatic" is a classic, "Capital Punishment" is a classic, and "Uptown Saturday Night" is a classic. Classics are albums that take a genre of music to a level once thought unattainable and are consistently great the whole way through.
The reason I defined classic is because I believe "Reasonable Doubt" is not a classic, although the songs "Dead Presidents II" and "D'evils" are probably among rap's top 10 songs ever made... this album is hard to listen to the whole way through without once pressing the skip button. The songs that are "amazing" on this album are truly once-in-a-lifetime... no one will ever duplicate the vibe that you get from "Dead Presidents II". But the songs that are bad, are just bad (bad as in fucking terrible)... and there are at least 3 or 4 of them.

0-20: Terrible listening experience
21-40: Maybe one good song
41-60: A few good songs
61-80: Half are good songs, half are weak
81-100: Great listening experience, almost all are great songs

Now to sound contradicting, I will give this album an 86. Because even though it doesn't look right on my grade scale... the good songs more than make up for the bad ones. But they just do not make this album a classic or a must-have. At the same time they do make it an album you should probably download:

Download Here


Were Read 2 Def said...

Great album, but personally like Blueprint or Black Album better.

Ryan said...

Except that, Jay-z is a joke, a complete fraud and a phony, pretty ugly exposed his ass for what he was. He never sold crack on a bus, and sold yayo, and his mic skills are extremely mediocre. Only reason hova happened to stay consistant, was the lack of talent in the game around his era... and I do mean ERA kuz he old as fuck, and the amount of features on every album. Jay makes pop records not gangster material...he a liar & truthfully 50 should've exposed his ass, but gave him a pass bc/ of his longevity and realization that if he attacked him, it would probably hinder his career, instead of helping it....Real talk...go to PRETTY UGLY's Myspace page and listen to the jay diss= classic. P.S. jay just got sued for 88.2 million dollars for copyright infringement lawsuit, meaning someone was able to prove the jigga stole his lyrics back in the day, hence the current touring with no album out....and on that note I'm out ....1

Anonymous said...

wow this guy hates jigga....
but seriously man, NOT A CLASSIC??

cant knock the hustle...classic
politics as usual...classic
brooklyns finest...classic
dead presidents...classic
can i live...classic

in conclusion reasonable doubt...classic

oh and dude above me prolly only think jigga is mediocre on the mic because it prolly all goes over his head....or he just never heard blueprint, black album or reasonable doubt

I Shot The Radio said...

@anon, a few good songs and a lot of buzz doesn't qualify an album as classic

Actually I prefer to use the phrase "consistently-solid-effort" over classic -- Reasonble Doubt is not consistent (as in terms of Illmatic), it's a solid effort but it's not consistent, there's a lot of skip-worthy tracks on Reasonable Doubt. (btw I fucking HATE R&B music!)

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