Review Summary: Jay-Z's magnum opus, and a good thing to look at for inspiration as a rapper.
Reasonable Doubt is Jay-Z's debut album, and before him being a businessman, Jay had one thing to prove. Jay simply wanted to prove he's one of the best rappers to ever pick up a microphone, and indeed he proved it. Before this album, Jay-Z had a few relatively high profile guest verses ("Show and Prove" by Big Daddy Kane, and "Da Graveyard" by Big L). Jay-Z's flow prior to this album was rather messy, and just didn't sound very good. However, with Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z debuted solo with a much more refined, perfected flow.
Jay-Z's lyricism on Reasonable Doubt is incredible, as he raps about a wide spectrum of topics. For his regrets in his life ("Regrets"), to watching his younger friends prosper ("Coming of Age"), to just awesome brag raps which he displays throughout a majority of the album. While some may complain that he's too braggadocio, I say it's perfectly fine, since he makes it interesting to listen to. Over his prestigious lyrics and storytelling, Jay-Z picked an all-star cast of producers to add to the greatness of this album. Jay-Z grabbed DJ Premier, Ski, and others to lay their fantastic production work on this. Every beat on this album sounds fantastic, and fit Jay's lyrics excellently. There are really no complaints to be made with the lyrics or beats on this album.
Pioneering the mafioso sub-genre of hip hop, Reasonable Doubt innovated in that respect. As Jay-Z tells his mafioso stories, with Scarface and Carlito's Way-esque crime tales, he grabs you into the story. Jay-Z's stories fully immerse the listener, and keeps the listeners interested. Even Jay's brag raps keep the listener interested, because he doesn't just rap about how he has more money than you. Jay keeps it fresh by celebrating the fact that hip hop got him to where he is, and that he no longer has to sell drugs to feed his family. Knowing makes it hard not to cheer for him in what he does.
The bottom line is, that Reasonable Doubt is one of the most innovative, most lyrical, and simply one of the best hip hop albums ever. This album is Jay-Z's magnum opus, and although he reached his peak too early in some people's eyes, Jay really had nothing to prove after this album. Jay-Z continued to consistently release great albums after this one, but Reasonable Doubt truly cemented Jay's place as one of the all-time greats in hip hop.
1. Can't Knock the Hustle (feat. Mary J. Blige): 5/5
2. Politics as Usual: 5/5
3. Brooklyn's Finest (feat. The Notorious B.I.G.): 5/5
4. Dead Presidents II: 5/5
5. Feelin' it: 5/5
6. D'evils: 5/5
7. 22 Two's: 5/5
8. Can I Live: 5/5
9. Ain't No Nigga (feat. Foxy Brown): 5/5
10. Friend or Foe: 5/5
11. Coming of Age (feat. Memphis Bleek): 5/5
12. Cashmere Thoughts: 5/5
13. Bring it On (feat. Sauce Money and Big Jaz): 5/5
14. Regrets: 5/5
15. Can I Live II: 5/5
Dead Presidents II
Bring it On
Can I Live
Weakest song: Can I Live II
Overall rating: 100/100