Back in 1996, I was into music, but I really wasn’t into Jay-Z’s music. Jay-Z was in that second tier rap category to me: He wasn’t as interesting as Tupac, wasn’t quite as wise as Nas, and lyrically couldn’t compete with Biggie – For me, Jay-Z was in that tier right above Busta Rhymes.
Fast forward a couple years later…..
I listened to this album, and realized to myself that this guy put out a classic in 96! As much as I didn’t appreciate it in the past, it has become one of my favorite albums presently. Today, I give you my top 5 songs from the album, and give you my final rating below.
5. POLITICS AS USUAL (5/5)
This is a very smooth song, yet Jay is talking about killing throughout (Only Jay can make killing sound smooth).
I love how the lady is singing on the chorus as Jay continuously adds the line “Politics as Usual” in-between.
The beat is wildly intriguing: It’s cinematic to me – not Blockbuster movie cinematic, but it’s indie/Bill Cosby Leonard 6 cinematic.
You can’t hate this song at all! It is at least solid.
4. CAN’T KNOCK THE HUSTLE (5/5)
‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’ is Jay-Z bringing to life the idea that a hustler can be sly, slick, and braggadocios. At the time, there wasn’t many young black men living this type of lifestyle, so to hear it from a young black man was inspiring.
The track starts off with a fake ass Scarface guy talking about how ruthless Jay-Z is, then goes to Mary J. Blige passionately singing about Jays hustling ways. You know what’s scary about Mary J. Blige? She sounds exactly the same since 1996!
Of course Jay-Z kills each verse thoroughly. With the beat being smooth, he flows even smoother; It almost sounds like he isn’t trying at all!
3. D’EVILS (5/5)
I love Jesus Christ my Lord and savior! With that being said, D’Evils is a HOT track (no pun intended)!
We all have evils, and we are all ashamed of something that we’ve done that is evil, but Jay seems to embrace his evils with the mentality of “it is what it is” on this track.
2. FEELIN’ IT (5/5)
Just like ‘Dead Presidents’, this is another one of Jay-Z’s greatest flows of all time. He reused this flow on ‘So Ambitious from Blueprint 3, but it just didn’t have the same effect as it did on this song.
1. DEAD PRESIDENTS (5/5)
Obviously the production on ‘Dead Presidents’ is phenomenal, as it combines a smooth/up-tempo sound with the classic dead presidents line by Nas. Jay-Z enters the fray with a sly flow that is a candidate for one of the best of all time.
This song in general is an all timer to me.
‘Reasonable Doubt’ isn’t an album to me, it’s a soundtrack. It’s Jay-Z making you vision the mafioso life style track by track.
While the instrumentals are certainly classic, Jays lyrics are probably just as classic too! Jay-Z understands how to put you in his world using vivid detail, and as a listener, you will appreciate that.
As the years go by, the more you will appreciate where he was mentally on this album: Jay wasn’t talkin’ about vacationing with Maybachs on this album, he was talking about drugs and lots of it! It was his life at the time, so that’s what makes this album feel so authentic.
I feel like rappers cannot make an album like this anymore…. Not because of their talents/ability, but because of the media nowadays. In order to understand Jay-Z’s lifestyle, you had to listen to the album, there wasn’t no YouTube or Wikipedia, just songs that described what he was doing in his life at the time. That’s special to me.