On this day, June 25, in hip-hop history….

1996: Seventeen years ago to date Jay-Z released his classic debut Reasonable doubt, the start of what some may call the greatest rap career of all time. Now a hip-hop mogul, Jay-Z has come a long way from the 1996 black and white cover in which a dapperly dressed young Hov appeared bearing a cigar.

Composed of hits like “Ain’t No Nigga”, “Can’t Knock The Hustle” and “Dead Presidents”, the Mafioso rap styled album remained on the Billboard 200 for about 18 weeks. The certified Platinum project held features from Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, Foxy Brown and Memphis Bleek. Reasonable Doubt ranks on many best album lists including VIBE and Rolling Stone, on which the LP claims the 250th spot.

The album came about after Jay-Z caught the attention of Big Daddy Kane. After touring with him; they collaborated on Kane's "Show & Prove" but all the exposure still left Jay without a record deal. Jay-Z then began selling mixtapes from his car leading to the creation of Roc-A-Fella records. After a long road of hard work and dedication, or what Jay would call an “Empire State of Mind”, he then appeared on a record with Big L along with releasing his first studio album and the rest was history.

Now disputed to be the richest rapper in the world, Jay-Z proves even in the midst of Reasonable Doubt, you can still have it all.

Salute! – Miranda Johnson