The Black Album (Jay-Z album)

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The Black Album
Studio album by Jay-Z
Released November 14, 2003
Genre Hip hop
Length 55:32
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Producer Jay-Z (exec.), Damon Dash (exec.), Kareem "Biggs" Burke (exec.), Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, Eminem, Rick Rubin, The Buchanans, DJ Quik, Luis Resto, Aqua, Joseph Weinberger
Jay-Z chronology
The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
(2002)
The Black Album
(2003)
Kingdom Come
(2006)
Singles from The Black Album
  1. "Change Clothes"
    Released: November 11, 2003
  2. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
    Released: January 13, 2004
  3. "99 Problems"
    Released: April 13, 2004

The Black Album is the eighth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z, released November 14, 2003, on Roc-A-Fella Records. It was promoted as his final studio album, which serves as a recurring theme,[1] although Jay-Z returned to solo recording with Kingdom Come in 2006.

The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 463,000 copies in its first week.[2] The Black Album has sold 3,516,000 original copies in the United States as of July 2013.[3] It produced three singles that attained Billboard chart success, including Hot 100 top-ten hits "Change Clothes" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder".

Upon its release, The Black Album received acclaim from music critics. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 47th Grammy Awards,[4] ultimately losing to Kanye West's The College Dropout.[5] The album was ranked #349 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[6]

Release and promotion[edit]

Jay-Z said the album would have a different producer for each track, and early magazine advertisements listed a series of numbers (representing tracks) and a producer for each number. Dr. Dre and DJ Premier were originally supposed to be among these producers however did not make the final cut.[7] The final album did feature a variety of producers, although Roc-A-Fella producers Kanye West and Just Blaze produced two tracks each, in addition to the two produced by frequent Jay-Z collaborators The Neptunes.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[8]
Robert Christgau A[9]
Entertainment Weekly B+[10]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[11]
Mojo 5/5 stars[12]
NME 8/10[13]
Pitchfork Media 8.0/10[14]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[1]
USA Today 4/4 stars[15]
Vibe 4.5/5 stars[16]

The Black Album received acclaim from contemporary music critics; it holds an aggregate score of 84 out 100 at Metacritic.[17] According to The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), The Black Album is "old-school and utterly modern", as it showed Jay-Z "at the top of his game, able to reinvent himself as a rap classicist at the right time, as if to cement his place in hip-hop's legacy for generations to come".[18] Steve Jones of USA Today stated, "He enlisted beats from an all-star cast of producers, who come through with top-shelf work. But it's Jigga's trademark lyrical dexterity and diversified deliveries that put him on a level all his own."[15] Dave Simpson of The Guardian was less enthusiastic and dismissed the music as "an aural equivalent of that old American favourite, the schmaltzy biopic."[11] In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention,[19] indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure."[20] He cited "99 Problems" and "My 1st Song" as highlights and quipped, "Raps like a legend in his own time—namely, Elvis in Vegas".[19] In a retrospective review, Christgau gave the album an "A", noted how each track benefits from different producers, and wrote of its legacy:

History has vindicated this album. On a meticulously hyped valedictory no one believed would be his actual farewell, the fanfares, ovations, maternal reminiscences, and vamp-till-ready shout-outs were overblown at best. But on an album where the biggest rapper of all time announces that he's the biggest rapper of all time, they're prophetic. Bitch about Kingdom Come and American Gangster if you must, but not The Blueprint 3 or Watch the Throne, and not his label presidency, amassed fortune, or close personal relationship with Warren Buffett. He's got a right to celebrate his autobiography in rhyme because he's on track to become a personage who dwarfs any mere rapper, and not only can he hire the best help dark green can buy, he can make it sing.[9]

Accolades[edit]

Pitchfork Media ranked The Black Album at number 90 on its list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s,[21] and Slant Magazine ranked it number 7 on its list of the Top 100 Albums of the 2000s.[22] According to Billboard, the album is Jay-Z's top selling album of the 2000s and the 136th highest selling album of the decade in the United States.[23] In 2012 Complex named the album one of the classic albums of the last decade.[7]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Interlude"   Just Blaze 1:22
2. "December 4th"   Just Blaze 4:32
3. "What More Can I Say"   The Buchanans 4:55
4. "Encore"   Kanye West 4:11
5. "Change Clothes" (featuring Pharrell) The Neptunes 4:18
6. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"   Timbaland 4:05
7. "Threat"   9th Wonder 4:05
8. "Moment of Clarity"   Eminem, Luis Resto (co) 4:24
9. "99 Problems"   Rick Rubin 3:55
10. "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)"   Just Blaze 2:53
11. "Justify My Thug"   DJ Quik 4:05
12. "Lucifer"   Kanye West 3:12
13. "Allure"   The Neptunes 4:52
14. "My 1st Song"   Aqua, Joe "3H" Weinberger 4:45
Samples

Charts[edit]

Chart (2003) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 1
U.S. Top Rap Albums 1 [24]
Preceded by
Shock'n Y'all by Toby Keith
Billboard 200 number-one album (First Run)
November 23, 2003 – November 29, 2003
Succeeded by
In the Zone by Britney Spears
Preceded by
In the Zone by Britney Spears
Billboard 200 number-one album (Second Run)
December 7, 2003 – December 13, 2003
Succeeded by
The Diary of Alicia Keys by Alicia Keys

Personnel[edit]

  • Executive Producers: Shawn Carter, Damon Dash, Kareem "Biggs" Burke
  • A&R Direction: Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua
  • A&R: Lenny S.
  • A&R Direction/Join Venture: Darcell Lawrence
  • A&R Administration: Rob Mitchell
  • Recording Administration: Rob Mitchell
  • Mastering: Tony Dawsey
  • Marketing: Shari Bryant, Amber Noble
  • Management: Roc-A-Fella Management
  • Art Direction & Design: Robert Sims
  • Principal Photography: Jonathan Mannion
  • Additional Photography: Lenny "kodak man" Santiago, Walik Goshorn
  • Legal Counsel: Michael Guido, Jennifer Justice
  • Business Affairs for Roc-A-Fella Records: Michael Seltzer, Ian Allen, Antoinette Trotman, Jeff Kempler
  • Sample Clearance Agent: Eric Weissman

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Touré. Review: The Black Album at the Wayback Machine (archived April 1, 2009). Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  2. ^ "Back In 'Black': Jay-Z Swan Song Bows On Top". Billboard. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  3. ^ Paine, Jake. "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 7/7/2013". HipHop DX. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ Grammy Award Nominees. Retrieved on 2011.05.10.
  5. ^ Grammy Award Winners. Retrieved on 2011.05.10.
  6. ^ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Jay-Z, 'The Black Album' | Rolling Stone
  7. ^ a b "Jay-Z, The Black Album (2003) — 25 Rap Albums From the Past Decade That Deserve Classic Status". Complex. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Bush, John. Review: The Black Album. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  9. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 9, 2011). "Jay-Z". MSN Music. Microsoft. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  10. ^ Drumming, Neil. Review: The Black Album. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  11. ^ a b The Guardian review
  12. ^ Mojo (London): 104. January 2004. 
  13. ^ Columnist. "Review: The Black Album". NME: November 22, 2003. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  14. ^ Staff. Review: The Black Album. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  15. ^ a b Jones, Steve. Review: The Black Album. USA Today. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  16. ^ Editors, The. "Review: The Black Album". Vibe: 120. January 2004.
  17. ^ The Black Album (2003): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  18. ^ Hoard, Christian. "Review: The Black Album". Rolling Stone: 424–425. November 2, 2004.
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (January 13, 2004). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York: Village Voice Media). Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Key to Icons". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  21. ^ Pitchfork staff (September 30, 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 100–51". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved October 1, 2009. 
  22. ^ Slant staff (February 1, 2010). "The Top 100 Albums of the 2000s: 10–1". Slant Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  23. ^ Decade-end Charts. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-29.
  24. ^ Rap Albums : Dec 09, 2006 | Billboard Chart Archive

External links[edit]