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This album was released on Halloween in the year of our Lord 2000. It’s one of two JAY-Z albums that people never really seem to talk about—the other one being American Gangster. From what I’ve seen, a lot of people really like this album, so I’m not sure why it doesn’t get more attention. Maybe at his something to do with the shitty cover art. I don’t know. Well actually, this album was originally marketed as a Roc-A-Fella Records compilation rather than a solo JAY-Z project, so that’s probably why. I don’t think I’m gonna like it. So far this marathon has been getting worse with every album, so that’s not really a good sign. I’ll try to keep an open mind tho…
Track 1: Intro (Prod. Just Blaze)
This beat is dope af. It sounds really familiar. Maybe I’ve heard this song before… Oh wait… I think I heard Ransom spit a freestyle over this beat. Yeah he remixed this song back in 2015. That was pretty good. Man… This beat is amazing. Just Blaze is a genius. Woah… Jay’s actually killin’ this shit.
The theme song to The Sopranos plays in the key of life on my mental piano / Got a strange way of seeing life, like I’m Stevie Wonder with beads under the doo-rag / Intuition is there even when my vision’s impaired, yeah / Knowing I can go just switching a spare.
The whole song is just one verse. It’s really fuckin’ dope tho. I kinda wish the intro wasn’t so long winded, but aside from that I really fuck with this. This song is great. The fake ass Al Pacino is nowhere to be found. I guess his last appearance was probably the previous album. That’s fine with me I guess.
Track 2: Change the Game Feat. Memphis Bleek & Beanie Sigel (Prod. Rick Rock)
This beat is alright. I like the way Jay’s flowing over it, and the way they were all trading bars on the intro was really cool too. The first verse from Beans was dope. This hook is great. It has uncredited vocals from Static Major. He sounds really fuckin’ good. Jay killed his verse too. The song just ended. This is a really good track. I wasn’t blown away by the production, and I wish it didn’t end so abruptly, but aside from that I don’t have any problems with it. This is dope to me. The remix with The Dogg Pound is dope af by the way.
Track 3: I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me) Feat. Pharrell Williams [Prod. The Neptunes]
Okay, I am now getting word that the streets do indeed fuck with this album. They’re actually calling it a classic, but I’m not sure if I believe that. The streets tend to dickride JAY-Z. Anyway, this beat is dope af. Oh shit… I’ve heard this song before. I remember hearing this hook a lot when I was little. Man, this is bringing me back. Wow. I was two years old when this came out. Man, this album is off to a really good start. This hook from Pharrell is fantastic. The first verse from Jay was fine. That part where he sang the Carl Thomas line was terrible, but I get that it relates to the prior bar. The subject matter isn’t for me. This is really good sonically tho. There’s an uncredited feature from Omillio Sparks on the hook. I could’ve done without that line where he tells the listener to give him “that gushy stuff.” The second verse was fine. Pharrell sang his ass off on this shit. Again, the content isn’t for me, but from a musical standpoint this is a really good song. This shit is dope.
Track 4: Streets Is Talking Feat. Beanie Sigel (Prod. Just Blaze)
This beat is dope af. The first verse from Jay was nice. The hook is nothing special. The second verse was great. This album is actually really fuckin’ good so far. He’s killin’ this shit. Beanie Sigel killed that last verse. This is probably my favorite song on the album so far honestly. I wasn’t really crazy about the hook at first, but the more I hear it, the more I like it. I really don’t have anything negative to say about this shit. I really enjoyed it. This is dope af to me.
Track 5: This Can’t Be Life Feat. Beanie Sigel & Scarface (Prod. Kanye West)
I’m pretty sure this was the first major placement Kanye ever got as a producer. He rapped about it on The College Dropout. It’s starting now. The beat is pretty dope. This is probably the most introspective track JAY-Z had ever done up to this point.
It gets worse, baby momma water burst / Baby came out stillborn; still I gotta move on / Though my heart still torn, life gone from her womb / Don’t worry, if it was meant to be, it’ll be soon.
The hook’s alright I guess. Beans did his thing. Scarface killed it. The song just ended. Huh. You know, I really don’t think I like this as much as everyone else does. The streets told me this was a standout track, but to me it’s just another good song. I definitely don’t think anything about it is really bad, but it’s not amazing to me. I like it tho. This is dope.
Track 6: Get Your Mind Right, Mami Feat. Memphis Bleek, Snoop Dogg & Rell (Prod. Rick Rock)
The title of this song is already making me cringe, but I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s starting now. This beat is cool. Oh God… Woooow. Jay’s rapping about how women should date him because he can buy them fake boobies and expensive makeup & clothing.
Brassiere get right; A to a D cup / Weave get tight, pedicure your feet up / Ears get iced, gear get spiced / From hoodrat to superstar; there’s your life / Fuck with Hova, he can take you out of your hell / Say “bye” to Reebok, say “hi” to Chanel / Say “hi” to Gucci, Prada as well / Take a look in the mirror; be proud of yourself.
This’d be good if he was telling women to be proud of who they naturally are. I guess one could interpret it as him telling women to do whatever they need to do to feel comfortable as themselves. I think it’d be better if he praised who they actually are in the first place tho. I’ve only listened to the first verse so far, but I can already tell this is my least favorite track that I’ve heard. Ugh… I’m not feelin’ this hook. Bleek’s flow was pretty nice. Oh gawd… I’m not feelin’ this verse from Snoop. His delivery sounds really cool, but the lyrics about being a pimp are severely misogynistic. Nah. I’m not feelin’ this track. It’s not complete dogshit, but it’s still pretty wack to me.
Track 7: Stick 2 the Script Feat. Beanie Sigel (Prod. Just Blaze)
This song is hosted by DJ Clue? for whatever reason. This beat is dope af. Okay, I’m gonna love this. The first verse was really dope. The content isn’t really for me, but the way he was flowing over this beat was real nice. The same thing can be said about the hook. Did DJ Clue? do the record scratching? He probably did. It sounds great. Beans’ flow was really nice, but, again, I could’ve done without the misogynistic content. Despite the misogyny, this is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. This shit is dope af.
Track 8: You, Me, Him & Her Feat. Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek & Amil (Prod. Bink!)
Hmm… I’m not really feelin’ this beat to be honest. It’s really repetitive. It gets annoying after a while. This is kind of a bullshit verse from Jay too. Bleek’s flow was really nice tho. Beanie killed it too. Amil’s verse was pathetic to be honest. The song just ended. Eh… Nah. This isn’t a bad song, but I’m not really feelin’ it. I didn’t like the production, and I only liked two of the verses. There’s no hook. I like the way the song is structured. I just think the execution was off. I’m not fuckin’ with this one.
Track 9: Guilty Until Proven Innocent Feat. R. Kelly (Prod. Rockwilder)
Oh God… I’m not feelin’ this beat at all. I think the streets tried to warn me about this song. They mentioned an annoying beat with a “whistle” sound in it. For those of you who are unaware, JAY-Z got in some trouble with the law after he stabbed the dogshit out some motherfucker for leaking his fourth album. The poor guy was just doing everyone a favor by making them save money on a trash album. Lmao. Anyway, this song is basically just Jay saying “I ain’t do that shit.” I’m not really feelin’ this hook to be honest. I honestly thought it was a female singer for a split second when it started. This might actually be my least favorite song on the whole project. It has that shitty, flashy, commercial sound that a lot of the singles from his previous couple of albums had. The verses aren’t really bad, but they aren’t really good enough to make me wanna listen to this shit again. I really don’t like this song. This shit is wack af to me.
Track 10: Parking Lot Pimpin’ Feat. Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek & Lil Mo (Prod. Rick Rock)
This beat is alright I guess. It’s a bit simplistic for me. The first verse was fine. The subject matter doesn’t really interest me very much. He’s just rapping about having really nice cars. I’m not feelin’ this hook from Lil Mo. Beanie’s verse was fine. Bleek’s verse was decent. Ugh… I don’t like this shit. I don’t even think it’s that bad objectively, but I think this shit is pretty terrible personally. I really don’t like anything about this track. I guess Memphis Bleek’s flow was kinda cool, but aside from that I can’t fuck with this shit at all. This is wack to me.
Track 11: Holla (Performed by Memphis Bleek) [Prod. Memphis Bleek & B-High]
This beat’s alright. The hook’s tolerable. The first verse was fine. I guess this is gonna be one of those songs. It’s just not a very interesting track. It’s not really bad tho. I can’t really say there’s anything wrong with it. It’s a decent track. I just don’t think I’d ever wanna hear it again. This is boring to me. It’s not bad tho.
Track 12: 1-900-Hustler Feat. Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek & Freeway (Prod. Bink!)
Oh fucking shit. This beat is dope af. Alright, we’re back. This album was starting to take a sinister turn, but it looks like it’s getting better now. The first verse from Jay was hard. There’s not really a hook. It’s more of an interlude with a phone conversation between Beanie Sigel & Young Chris. Memphis Bleek’s verse was dope. Oh. Beanie Sigel doesn’t actually have a verse. He just does the phone call skits. Freeway killed it. He definitely had my favorite verse on the song. This is a dope track. I’m not really a fan of the phone calls with Beanie Sigel, but aside from that I fuck with this.
Track 13: The R.O.C. (Performed by Beanie Sigel) Feat. Memphis Bleek [Prod. Just Blaze]
This beat is dope. The first verse from Beanie Sigel was really good. The hook’s fine. Memphis Bleek’s verse was great. The final verse from Beanie was cool. The song just ended. I don’t know if y’all can tell from the way I’m writing, but I’m really fucking bored right now. The weird thing is, I actually like this song. This is a dope track. I just really don’t have anything interesting to say about it. It’s a conventional Hip Hop song. I like it, but it’s not really that unique. I’m not gonna penalize it for not being super experimental or anything. This is dope.
Track 14: Soon You’ll Understand (Prod. Just Blaze)
I’m hungry. This beat is great. Oh God… This is sad. Fuuuuuck. This is relatable. Jesus. Smh…
It must be sad, though it hurts to say / We could never be a item, don’t even like him / You deserve better, this is ugly; Gina, please don’t love me / There’s better guys out there other than me / Like a lawyer or a doctor with a Ph.D / Think of how upset your mother and brother would be / If they found that you was huggin’ me / My conscience is fuckin’ with me.
Fuuuuuuuck. Lmao. This is very similar to my situation, except I was the one who fell in love. Smh… This is making me so sad. I’m getting PTSD listening to this shit. It’s fucking great tho. This shit cuts deep.
This is the saddest song I’ve ever heard from JAY-Z. I love it. If he made more shit like this, then I’d probably be more understanding of the praise he gets. This shit is amazing. I definitely fuck with this track. This is dope af.
Track 15: Squeeze 1st (Prod. Rick Rock)
This beat’s alright. It was cool at first, but it’s really repetitive. It gets old REAL quick. The first verse was alright. Ugh… He keeps repeating the same handful of lines over and over again. The structure of this song just feels really sloppy. It’s like he forgot to write a third verse, so he just repeats the hook and bridge three times. The actual verses were cool, but everything else about this song managed to annoy the dogshit outta me. It’s not complete trash, but I’m not feelin’ it. It’s mediocre to me.
Track 16: Where Have You Been Feat. Beanie Sigel (Prod. Tété)
This beat is dope af. Oh man… Okay, THIS shit is dope. It’s about how Beanie & Jay never had fathers in their lives. Beanie fuckin’ slaughtered that first verse. Man, this is REALLY emotional. It just makes that previous song feel even more out of place. Beanie sounds like he was really shedding tears as he was spittin’ this shit. Oh boy… Uuuugh… This hook… I’m uh… I’m not feelin’ it. I mean, it’s not that bad, but I would’ve preferred if they didn’t have a little girl singing it. I wanna hear Beyoncé sing this shit, not Blue Ivy. It’s not that big of a deal tho. Jay fuckin’ killed this shit too.
Fuck you very much you showed me the worst kind of pain / But I’m stronger and trust me I will never hurt again / Will never ask mommy, “Why daddy don’t love me? / Why is we so poor? Why is life so ugly? / Mommy why is your eyes puffy? / Please don’t cry; everything’ll be alright / I know it’s dark now, but we gon’ see the light / It’s us against the world; we don’t need him, right?”
Man, this shit is amazing. Okay, fuck what I said about the hook. I don’t even care anymore because this shit is fantastic. I definitely fuck with this track. This is dope af.
This is actually a good album. This is definitely the best album I’ve heard from JAY-Z aside from Reasonable Doubt. The middle section was a little turbulent, but I think the beginning and end of this album are great. It’s really flawed. I think it’s worth listening to tho. Obviously Jay’s fans will like it, but I think even people like me should give it a shot. It’s a bit long, and can feel like a bit of a chore to get through—especially between tracks 5 through 12—but there’s a sufficient amount of enjoyable material here in my opinion. His albums were on a downward trend for me, so I’m glad he kinda picked it up with this album. This is dope.
Favorite Song: Soon You’ll Understand
Least Favorite Song: Guilty Until Proven Innocent