The Black Album was touted by Jay-Z as his last album before he retired from rap music. He cited a perceived lack of competition as reason for his retirement, stating "The game ain't hot. I love when someone makes a hot album and then you've got to make a hot album. I love that. But it ain't hot." Many critics doubted the longevity of Jay-Z's retirement, and Ryan Schrieber of Pitchfork Media speculated that the retirement declarations could constitute "an elaborate publicity stunt." Lyrically, "Encore" deals with these themes and addresses rumors of a post-retirement career. Critic Rob Mitchum wrote of the song that "it's a little hard to take Jay's claims of retirement at face value when... ("Encore") makes reference to 'when I come back like Jordan wearing the 45.'"