Classic Music: Antlife's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums of All-Time #12 (Jay-Z "Reasonable Doubt") (1996)

How we do..

I don’t think we realized how blessed we were in the 90’s, with all the dope music we were gettin’ back then. If you were like me (and this is before the Internet), you had mad places to get exclusive music from. From ’92-’98, “the underground” was truly at its best! College radio was really a godsend, and you’d be able to hear tracks from people that they had just finished recording sometimes, right after they left the studio! These songs would only be played that night, and if you had your tape rollin’ to record, you’d be blessed. That was my life back then, and that’s how I first heard Jay-Z. It was 1994, and Stretch Armstrong played Jay’s “In My Lifetime” up there at WKCR, that winter. Once. I was a fan immediately, and couldn’t wait to hear more from Hov. Over the next couple of years, he’d drop by the Columbia University radio station that I used to call home, to bring more music that people STILL haven’t heard today. But they were few and far between. One night he’d announce that he was dropping an album independently, and it was on from there. 

I copped the album the first day it dropped. And Reasonable Doubt was one of those albums that a lot of people weren’t really up on back then. I was selfish with my music, so I liked the fact that everybody didn’t have it. I didn’t want people playin’ it out. It was way too dope for that. It would become the only CD I played for awhile. There was just somethin’ different about the album. I think it was the fact that I actually believed Jay. He didn’t sound like he was frontin’. He sounded like he had been through a lot and this album was some kind of a diary for him. I dug that a lot and it inspired me on levels that I’ve lost track of. That honesty is what kept this album next to me for years. I hadn’t heard anyone take that approach before, so I was hooked when this dropped.

The production was so perfect on there. They kept everything right in Jay’s zone at the time. We all know he’d branch out to different sounds later, but this album was situated perfectly for what he did back then, production-wise. He had DJ Premier on there, which was the stamp back then, for all good things Hip-Hop. But for me, the star producer for the album was Ski. He really killed this album! “Politics as Usual”, “Dead Presidents II”, and “Feelin’ It” were tough joints! They ran neck and neck with Premier’s “D’Evils”, “Friend or Foe” and “Bring it On”. All classic tracks to me. But “Can I Live”, “Brooklyn’s Finest” with B.I.G. and “Can’t Knock the Hustle” were mad potent, as well. The album really had dopeness from front to back. And it’s such a timeless project for Hov, and easily one of his best along with The Blueprint and The Black Album. It’s my favorite album of his, and hopefully you already own it to agree or disagree. But if you don’t, you should change that immediately.

Get yours..



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