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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2011 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2011 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released August 12, 2011 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 7, 2017 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
If Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay-Z, has found himself a target for clashes throughout 4:44, it's not with Kanye, or Kendrick, or any other fellow musician. No: the Brooklyn rapper's struggle is entirely with himself. At 47, having nothing to prove to anyone, Jay-Z is not out to gauge the competition or battle the new generation. Rather, he is hitting the psychoanalyst's couch. And 4:44 makes for a beautiful couch to do just that. Solid, robust and nicely designed. The album was produced by Ernest Dion Wilson a.k.a. No I.D. (it's rare for Jay-Z to hand the keys to a single producer) and it remains true to the fundamentals of Jay-Z's work. No vaguely electro sounds, no contemporary beats. Jay-Z has made a classic album, a true Jay-Z album, with groovy and erudite choices of samples (Fugees, Stevie Wonder, Funk Inc., Donny Hathaway to name a few) over which he lays down introspective rhymes on the turpitudes of conjugal life with Mrs Carter (who features on Family Feud), and reflecting on his status and ego. He is restrained in his choice of other artists who feature, inviting only Frank Ocean and Damian Marley to the album. But after listening to the album several times over, 4:44 impresses with its precision, its workmanship, and a certain kind of perfection. Jay-Z made the revolution years ago. What's important to him now is to continue to rule and be respected. Mission accomplished. © MD/Qobuz
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 30, 2004 | Warner Bros. - Roc-A-Fella

Mash-ups -- two songs stuck together that were never meant to be stuck together -- have their roots in the bedrooms and basements of computer-savvy music geeks who spend countless hours sticking Christina Aguilera's vocals over the Strokes' chugging backbeat or Missy Elliott's raps over George Michael, Joy Division, the Cure, and about a thousand others. MP3s were the medium of choice, white-label 12"s a distant second. It seemed like it was time to put a fork in the pranky genre when collections like The Best Bootlegs in the World Ever and Soulwax's As Heard on Radio Soulwax series exposed the mash-up to a wider audience, but then Danger Mouse came along. His headline-making Grey Album -- Jay-Z's Black Album vs. the Beatles' White Album -- inspired a ton of spirited imitations, and most likely the MTV-spawned, artists-involved Collision Course. The fact that the artists are involved with the project totally goes against the mash-up philosophy, but luckily Linkin Park -- who are revealed through the DVD as the main architects of the EP -- have that pop-loving prankster spirit and don't let their high-profile, well-funded life ruin it. The liner notes talk of a "once-in-a-lifetime performance" and "music history," but Collision Course is just plain old fun and all the better because of it. Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" sits nicely on top of Linkin Park's "Lying from You" on the CD's studio version, but it's the fist-pumping live version on the DVD that really justifies Collision Course's existence. The Z-man -- who's "retired" from the rap game while being busier than ever -- has had his excellent "99 Problems" rocked up before, so the version here with Linkin Park's "Points of Authority" and "One Step Closer" isn't so much the revelation the liner-note hyperbole makes it out to be, but it's got an awesome beat and you can still dance to it. If the CD were released on its own, the collection wouldn't be as exciting. Linkin Park's genuine excitement about the project on the "behind the scenes" segment of the DVD is infectious, and watching the furious and fast teaming of "Jigga What/Faint" teeter on the edge of falling apart is gripping. Check the DVD first, and then throw the CD in the car for when you feel half-mack, half-punk. It's doubtful mash-ups will survive corporate handling this well again, and to paraphrase a post-show Linkin Parker, Collision Course is awesomely fun. ~ David Jeffries
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 4, 2013 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

Booklet
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 30, 2004 | Warner Bros. - Roc-A-Fella

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2013 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

Booklet
Like few other album openers, "Holy Grail" encapsulates what follows it and reflects a particular point in an artist's career. It's a vigorous if not particularly moving track, principally produced by Timbaland and J-Roc, which expresses bewilderment and conflicting emotions about rising from poverty to opulence. The first of a few early-'90s references is made -- the chorus of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is quoted -- and Jay-Z is as triumphant and as troubled as ever. He doesn't enter until the 80-second mark, preceded by a theatrical verse and hook from summer 2013 tour partner Justin Timberlake. As with a significant portion of Magna Carta...Holy Grail, it has a dashed-off, created between business engagements quality -- maybe there wasn't enough time to ask Timberlake who translated his version of the Hebrew Bible ("Sippin' from your cup 'til it runneth over"). Likewise, the album's remainder is sporadically energized and frequently hasty-sounding, played safe with just enough timely pop-culture references and sonic curveballs to demonstrate that Jay-Z still has his finger on the pulse. He has Timbaland and J-Roc -- also co-producers of Timberlake's 20/20 Experience -- involved with most of the tracks, highlighted by a pair that sample Adrian Younge's 2011 psych-soul masterpiece Something About April, as well as some brilliantly bleary and prickly work on "F.U.T.W." Significantly lighter lifting is done by a cast that includes the likes of Pharrell and Swizz Beatz, as well as Kyambo Joshua and Mike Dean, who shine on the scuffed-up Gonjasufi-sampling finale "Nickels and Dimes." For all the lyrical flaunting of material wealth -- revolutionary art, designer fashion, yachting, globe-trotting -- the greatest ostentatious display here is in the enlistment of 2012/2013's hottest producer, Mike Will, for a single minute-length track. Unsurprisingly, it's the wildest, most advanced moment on the album. Jay-Z is armed with and weighed down by an immense back catalog. Any given track is bound to be compared to a past highlight. The MC indeed can't help sounding more mechanical than novel and, as a 43-year-old referencing Internet memes, he's possibly a little desperate to relate to younger listeners. He still drops some casually brilliant reminders that he remains one of the best, as on "Oceans" ("Only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace/I don't even like Washingtons in my pocket") and on "Nickels and Dimes" ("Pardon my hubris, Stanley Kubrick/With eyes wide shut, I could cook up two bricks"). The album is an adequate addition to one of the most impressive artist discographies within any genre, not great enough to overshadow the heavily scrutinized corporate alliance that assisted with its ascent. ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 1997 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2000 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Roc-A-Fella

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2011 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Booklet
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2006 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

Jay-Z's retirement from making albums was more like a working holiday. After he announced his retirement, released The Black Album, and threw the Fade to Black party, he collaborated with Linkin Park on Collision Course, teamed with R. Kelly for the abysmal Unfinished Business, and appeared on tracks by Beanie Sigel, Bun B, Memphis Bleek, Kanye West, Pharrell, Lupe Fiasco, and Beyoncé. He kept busy behind the scenes as Def Jam's CEO and president, and he also stepped up as a major philanthropist, donating a million dollars to the Katrina cause and actively addressing the global water crisis in Turkey and South Africa. In the midst of these and other well-publicized activities, Jay-Z recorded Kingdom Come, his eighth and weakest studio album. When placed in the context of his prolific discography, the greater part of the album wilts, and it's not a good indicator that Jay-Z continues to lean on a familiar cast of producers rather than actively seek up-and-comers. (The fresh talent here is limited to Syience and Gwyneth Paltrow's Chris Martin; they contribute one track each.) There's only a small handful of highlights. On the title track, Just Blaze's masterful contortion job on Rick James' "Superfreak" backs Jay's nearly top-form, Black Album/Blueprint-worthy boasts: "I been up in the office, you might know him as Clark/Just when you thought the whole world fell apart/I take off the blazer, loosen up the tie/Step inside the booth, Superman is alive." Two of the four Dr. Dre productions feature assistance from Mark Batson (Anthony Hamilton), and they both strike a fine balance between maturity and ferocity -- much more so than the clumsy "30 Something," where Jay proclaims that "30 is the new 20," which would actually make him 27 and a fourth-grader a zygote. (He might as well say, "You wear Huggies, I wear Depends/You drink from a sippy cup/I sip my solids.") Apart from the above-mentioned bright spots and a poignant, somber track about the Katrina disaster ("Minority Report"), the album is a display of complacency and retreads -- a gratuitous, easily resistible victory lap -- that slightly upgrades the relative worth of The Blueprint². ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 30, 2004 | Warner Bros. - Roc-A-Fella

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 30, 2004 | Warner Bros. - Roc-A-Fella

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2009 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2010 | Roc Nation - IDJ

Booklet
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2007 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2000 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

At the time of The Dynasty Roc la Familia's release, Jay-Z had already established himself as a towering figure in the rap world. His previous two albums -- Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life and Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter -- spawned numerous gigantic hits and were filled the brim with the biggest hitmakers in rap: producers like Timbaland and Swizz Beatz; rappers like Juvenile and DMX. So rather than try to one-up these albums with yet more super-producers and big-name rappers, Jay-Z took a different approach on The Dynasty. He brought in a stable of up-and-coming producers (the Neptunes, Just Blaze, Kanye West) and handed the mic to his in-house roster of Roc-a-Fella rappers (Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, Freeway) with the intention of bolstering his rap "dynasty" (i.e., Roc-a-Fella). The approach works well. The Dynasty Roc la Familia still sounds like a Jay-Z album, but it's different enough from his past work to make it exciting and unique. In particular, the productions set Jigga apart from his peers in 2000, especially "I Just Wanna Love You (Give It 2 Me)" by the Neptunes, a fun, playful song a world apart from the rugged Ruff Ryder beats Swizz Beatz had been offering Jay-Z a year earlier. In terms of rapping, the omnipresence of Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek spices up "Parking Lot Pimpin'," another album highlight, but is a drag on other songs, where Jay-Z seems like a guest on his own album. Guest appearances by Snoop Dogg and Scarface are much more welcome, two of only three non-Roc-a-Fella guest features here. The Dynasty plays overall like a Roc-a-Fella mixtape rather than a Jay-Z album, which means you'll have to endure a lot of promotional posse tracks, particularly toward the end of the album. Still, the few standout tracks here are career highlights for Jay-Z and well worth wading through the occasional filler to find. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2008 | Roc Nation - Jay-Z

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