“Fellow Americans, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present this recording, as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation.”
And he did just that. 10 years ago today, Jay Z dropped The Black Album. Read that again…10 years. It has been 10 years since 99 problems, an entire decade has passed since ladies were officially announced to be pimps too. Jay Z solidified himself as not only one of the most notable rappers of all time, but asserted himself as a legend, with the release of his 9th studio album. The Grammy nominated album has gone triple platinum and was ranked on Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list at #349.
Jay Z’s revolutionary record not only brought about some of the best Jay Z songs of all time, but the production behind The Black Album is just as noteworthy. Produced by the likes of Rick Rubin, Kanye West (who won Album of the Year with The College Dropout, my second favorite rap album of all time), and Just Blaze, the masterfully crafted rap album has certainly grasped its page in the history books. The Black Album has also inspired much more than just good hip-hop. Jay Z’s music has inspired some of the best electronic music being produced, evidence of which is clear across the spectrum. From Baauer to Justice and many more in between, Hov’s music is certainly rooted within the electronic music that is being produced today. Plus who could forget Danger Mouse’s Grey Album? The mashup-electronic followup effort blended the smooth, unmatched cool of the Beatles’ White Album with the hard knock mogul-rap of Jay Z’s revolutionary Black Album.
After the massive success of Magna Carta Holy Grail this year, it is pretty remarkable to see Jay Z still has the game completely under his thumb. And in the last 10 years, 99 problems has seemed to be more like 99 larger-than-life successes. The CEO of the ROC in the past decade has been an NBA team owner, emerged into the fashion industry, the nightlife industry, and become the father of a child, just to name a few. From inspiring others, to living the rags to riches American dream, Jay Z will go down in history; The Black Album, his Mona Lisa.
For me, as an 11 year old young thug in my own right just trying to make my way, every single word of The Black Album resonated with me then just as much as it does now. So I’ll throw my Roc up today for Hov as I declare: The Black Album is one of, if not, the greatest rap album of all time.