It’s hard not to view Jay-Z’s decision to perform Reasonable Doubt in its entirety at New York’s fabled Radio City Music Hall as a tacit admission that it’s his only good album. Never mind the fact that this summer marks the album’s 10th anniversary. How many people do you think would really pay to see Jay do Volume 3 in its entirety?
It’s not so much that every other album that Jay-Z recorded was bad, but they all contained varying degrees of suckitude – trendy production styles, ill-advised pop attempts, guest appearances, and what have you. Now that he’s been out of the game for a couple of years, Reasonable Doubt is the only one I’m ever compelled to listen to in its entirety.
Without further ado, here’s a list of Jay-Z albums I put together in order from best to worst.
Reasonable Doubt. Sure, it ain’t no Ready to Die or Illmatic, but it’s as close as Jay-Z’s gonna come anyway. I can’t really say that I’m mad at it.
In My Lifetime Vol. 1. This could’ve been even better than Reasonable Doubt if it wasn’t for that damn P. Diddy. “Who You Wit” is like hip-hop’s “Under My Thumb.” I take my hat off to it.
Volume II: Hard Knock Life. Jay-Z’s Life After Death, except that it’s only one disc. I notice people don’t mention it as much even though it’s his best-selling album.
The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. I like it a little better than The Blueprint even though none of the songs are that good. This is the kind of ignorant shit Jay-Z was born to make.
The Blueprint. Overrated as shit, even though some of it’s really good. Definitely not the second best album to come out this decade. Fucking hipsters.
The Black Album. The Black Album is what Blueprint 2 would be like if it was that much shorter. The fact that it’s his “retirement” album may provide a certain degree of gravitas for the kind of people who can find gravitas in a Jay-Z album.
Blueprint 2: The Gift That’s a Curse. Jay-Z’s ill-advised attempt at making a Life After Death or a All Eyez on Me. I suppose at least Mariah Carey’s not on it.
Vol. 3: A New Level of Pandering. Honestly, I have no idea what Noz sees in this album. Some real abortions on this disc.