Nas and The Notorious B.I.G. may have put the East Coast rap scene back on the Map and made people forget about N.W.A. and remember where rap came from. But Jay-Z made the Rap game permanantly East Coast, Reasonable Doubt was slept on and in some cases, hated. Who is this guy with a gigantic ego that talks about how much money he will soon make and what a superstar he's gonna be and how many people are gonna copy him? Why did Biggie lend his talent to this douche? Well, because both Jay-Z and Biggie knew what would soon happen. Even if few others knew what they knew. You might as well call Jay-Z clarvoyant, becuase he knew exactly what would happen. But as good as this album was when I first heard it, it is better now that you see the current Jay-Z: Rich, Fancy, His Own Clothes, His Own shoes, owner of the Nets, chillin with Beyonce in the front Row watching the Knicks fail while his nets are wrapping up the Atlantic Division, He knew he'd be there 10 years ago. And taking a look back makes this album just a bit better than it was. And as good as it is (and it is) I don't consider it a classic, but it's very close to one, and this album has spawned countless biters, I have hear nearly 100 versions of reasonable doubt, with Jay-Z's name scribbled out and some generic scrub's name written in his place.
1. Can't Knock The Hustle - The song opens with Pain In Da Ass (yes that is his name, and basically he just quote Scarface) quoting Scarface, which to some is annoying, but it is obviously something Jay-Z can relate to, his drug selling most likely got him enough money to get noticed. The song starts with a very soft, airy, ambient, beautiful sound with a nice drum beat that fits really well, and Jay-Z comes out with very Know-it-all lyrics, that for some reason makes you like him more, and in between his countless metaphors and vivid details. This song basically sums up everything Jay-Z is as a rapper and as a human being. My favorite from Sean Carter, this song is in my top ten of fave songs of all time.
2. Politics As Usual - The song has a very retro, disco-esque beatfilled with storytelling and of course his boastful lyrics "You ain't seen money in your life, when it comes to this cheese y'all like Three Blind Mice
A smokin bro, who pump Willie Ike spokes
The furthest you Chiles been is the Pocanos
My portfolio reads: leads to Don Corleone, nigga please
Ten year feleon, heavy on the wrist, our face used
with the diamond blooded Jesus and blind your face
youse for life... sharight, Jigga, I keep it tight nig-ga"
That's Jay-Z's style, he's the type of rapper who can talk about something superficial and simple, and the next sentence he drops a metaphor that makes you dig out your dictionary
3. Brooklyn's Finest - Great Lyrically, it's basically as the song says "Brooklyn's Finest" going back and fourth, outdoing each other in each verse, just a nice trade off between Jay-Z and his hero. the beat gets a little boring, an old piano beat. 4/5
4. Dead Presidents II - "You made it a Hot Line, I Made It A Hot Song" That was a line from takeover in Jay-Z's Blueprint album, what does that mean? Well, on Nas's Classic "ILLmatic" there was a song titled "The World Is Yours" Nas said "I'm out for dead presidents to represent me". Jay-Z made a whole song from this line, and a hot song it is, indeed. A very introspective track with pretty piano and of course Jay-Z telling a story about himself
"To the death of us, me and my confidants, we shine
You feel the ambiance, y'all niggaz just rhyme
By the ounce dough accumulates like snow
We don't just shine, we illuminate the whole show; you feel me?
Factions from the other side would love to kill me
Spill three quarts of my blood into the street, let alone the heat
*** em, we hate a nigga lovin this life
In all possible ways, know the Feds is buggin my life
Hospital days, reflectin when my man laid up
On the Uptown high block he got his side sprayed up
I saw his life slippin, this is a minor set back
Yo, still in all we livin, just dream about the get back
That made him smile though his eyes said, "Pray for me"
I'll do you one better and slay these niggaz faithfully
Murder is a tough thing to digest, it's a slow process
and I ain't got nothin but time
I had near brushes, not to mention three shots
close range, never touched me, divine intervention"
5. Feelin' It - The Best beat on the album, a latin sounding piano loop with a nice drumbeat. The best hook, and very descriptive lines. 5/5
6. D'Evils - Maybe Jay-Z's most lyrically genious song of his career. This is where he really examines if the money he has is really making him happy, a very paranoid Jay-Z spits an unbelievable few verses over a sample of Snoop Dogg saying " Dear God, I Wonder Can You Save Me?"
"Whoever said illegal was the easy way out couldn't understand the
And the workings of the underworld, granted
Nine to five is how to survive, I ain't trying to survive
I'm trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot
Life ills, poison my body
I used to say '*** mic skills,' and never prayed to God, I prayed to
That's right it's wicked, that's life I live it
Ain't asking for forgiveness for my sins, endz
I break bread with the late heads, picking their brains for angles on
all the evils that the game'll do
It gets dangerous, money and power is changing us
And now we're lethal, infected with D'Evils..."
7. 22 Two's- A talk show theme has an okay beat and a nice Jay-z Freestyle, feels like more of a skit than a song, but his verse is great as usualy 3.5/5
8. Can I Live - Song has a retro feel and Jay-Z describe how he feels about life and how he'd rather die having fun than live an uneventful life.4/5
9. Ain't No Nigga - A very funky, boastful sexual song with Foxy Brown, basically about money and sex and a loveless relationship, a Play on an old Four Tops song, it shouldn't be likeable, but it is. 4.5/5
10. Friend Or Foe - Unlike the 22 Two's skit, it's more of a song than a skit, jay-z basically keeps a rival drug dealer from taking his territory, Jigga really shows his teeth on this song. 4/5
11. Coming Of Age - Memphis Bleek shows why Jay-Z spent so much money on him only to find out he can't put out a good album. Jay-Z is really great with other artist, he has a way of going back and fourth with the guest, almost like it's competitive. 4/5
12. Cashmere Thoughts - The most slept on song on the album, really great disco sounding beat backed up with what sounds like a rhythmic humming.
"Ghettoes, Errol Flynn, hot like heroin
Young pimps is sterile when I pimp through your burough in
I gotta keep your tricks intact
Cause I walk like a p-iyimp, talk like a mack man
The star player, the golden bar layer
The sweet Ms. Fine Thing puh-layah, sho' yo right
I'm game tight, so watch it it change to night
Go tell your peeps dawg I'm lethal til it ain't right
I pimp hard on a trick, look
*** if your leg broke bitch, hop up on your good foot"
One of my favorite verses on the album. 5/5
13. Bring It On - I really love the music on this song, like most of the song's it's a mix with 70's funk and '96 streets. Sauce Money Puts in the best guest appearance on the album (yes, even better than Biggie's verse)
All 3 Verse's are very nice. I would take a few lines from this, but I have no clue where to start. Perhaps, when Big Jaz says "Whatever nigga, Fahrvergnugen"
14. Regrets - The most introspective song on the album, with a beautiful keyboard driven beat, and it's mostly dedicated to Jay-Z's mother. It's mainly about living with regrets, and Jay-Z lists some regret of his. A Very Sweet and beautiful that shows Jay's soul. 5/5
15. Can't Knock The Hustle (Remix) - An okay close to a great album, the beat is a bit repetitive and Jay-Z remembers his roots and encourages people to keep on with their hustle. This isn't a very wholesome positive album, but it's real, and that's what I like. 3/5
This album is a rough diamond, like in "Ready To Die" by The Notorious B.I.G. you can hear the honesty in Jay-Z's voice. This album isn't the best rap album, it's not even Jay-Z best album, but this album really cemented East Coast until it didn't matter anymore and East and West joined together. Jay-Z is very young and hard headed in this album, but he is also wise in some moments, and he would only get smarter as his career raged on. Jay-Z knew what he'd become, and he did, I don't thjink this is a 5 star classic, but it really is one of the best non- classic albums ever.