Jay-Z: The Black Album (2003). "On that note, I'm leavin' after this song"
B. Cox reminisces about Jay-Z's eight album The Black Album as it turns 20. Heading into this album, it was being touted as Jay-Z last album as he was to "retire" to take up the mantle of president of Def Jam Records after the album was released. The news and fallout from it lead to a acrimonious split of the three founders and owners of Roc-A-Fella Records: Jay, Damon Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke. The news of Jay-Z's impending retirement while he was still on top of his game in every aspect, raised the profile of this album to another level.
Teaming up with an all-star cast of producers, it was an epic album to say goodbye: mainstays Just Blaze, Kanye West, the Neptunes, Timbaland were on board to produce songs along with newcomers 9th Wonder and the Buchanans along with industry veterans DJ Quik and Rick Rubin. Focusing on his last album, Jay-Z toed the line of lyrically exclaiming his career in review as proud veteran while simultaneously giving us his trademark varied flow and style to show he could still make a hit and be hungry. Noted in the album is a more mature and at peace vibe from Jay-Z as he celebrated and reflected.
The album was boosted by three singles: "Change Clothes" feat. Pharrell Williams, "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "99 Problems". The anticipation and acclaimed pushed the album to triple platinum certification. It is noted along with 1996's Reasonable Doubt and 2001's The Blueprint with being Jay-Z's classic albums. The album was also supported by a documentary feature film Fade To Black, which chronicled Jay-Z's "farewell" concert at Madison Square Garden in 2004.
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