The Black Album (Jay-Z album)

The Black Album (Jay-Z album)
The Black Album
Studio album by Jay-Z
Released November 14, 2003
Recorded 2003
Genre Hip hop
Length 55:32
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Producer Jay-Z (exec.), Damon Dash (exec.), Kareem "Biggs" Burke (exec.), Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, Eminem, Rick Rubin, The Buchanans, DJ Quik, Luis Resto, Aqua, Joseph Weinberger
Jay-Z chronology
The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
The Black Album
Unfinished Business
Singles from The Black Album
  1. "Change Clothes"
    Released: November 11, 2003
  2. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
    Released: January 13, 2004
  3. "99 Problems"
    Released: April 13, 2004

The Black Album is the eighth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z, released November 14, 2003, on Roc-A-Fella Records. It was promoted as his final studio album, which serves as a recurring theme,[1] although Jay-Z returned to solo recording with Kingdom Come in 2006.

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 463,000 copies in its first week. It produced three singles that attained Billboard chart success, including Hot 100 top-ten hits "Change Clothes" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder". Upon its release, The Black Album received general acclaim from most music critics. The Black Album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 47th Grammy Awards,[2] ultimately losing to Kanye West's The College Dropout.[3]


Release and promotion

Jay-Z said the album would have a different producer for each track, and early magazine advertisements listed a series of numbers (representing tracks) and a producer for each number. The final album did feature a variety of producers, although Roc-A-Fella producers Kanye West and Just Blaze produced two tracks each, in addition to the two produced by frequent Jay-Z collaborators The Neptunes. Some of the albums CD pressings come in a transparent black jewel case.


An acappella version of the album was released to provide material for remixes and mashups. Such albums included Kev Brown's, The Brown Album, and Kno vs. HOV by Kno of CunninLynguists, These were followed by Danger Mouse's The Grey Album.[4] The latter gained attention due to unauthorized use of samples of songs by The Beatles. Subsequent remixes have mashed-up the acapellas with Prince (The Purple Album) and Dr. Dre (The Black Chronic). Further mashups have been created using the music of alternative bands Pavement ("The Slack Album") and Weezer ("The Black and Blue Album").

The only officially released remix album is Collision Course, Jay-Z's collaboration with Linkin Park. It was produced by Mike Shinoda and included a DVD featuring the two acts performing together.

Lines from the album have been sampled by other artists into entirely new songs.

  • The chorus to T.I.'s "Bring Em Out" was based on a line from "What More Can I Say", which Jay-Z in turn got from Audio Two's "Top Billin'".
  • Joe Budden's "Stuntin'" based on a line from "What More Can I Say".
  • Cassidy's "I'm a Hustla" and Juvenile's "Way I Be Leanin'" were based on lines from "Dirt Off Your Shoulder".
  • Clipse's "Number One Supplier" was based on a line from "Public Service Announcement".
  • Clipse's "Where You Been" was based on a line from "Threat".
  • Beanie Sigel's "All the Above" uses a line from "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)".
  • The chorus to Freeway's "It's Over" was based on a line in "Encore".
  • RZA's "Straight Up the Block" chorus was based on a line in "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
  • Jedi Mind Tricks' "Put 'em In The Grave" chorus samples "Threat."
  • Bobby Creekwater's "Hello World" samples "December 4th."[5]
  • Vakill's "Farewell to the Game" samples "December 4th."


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau (A)[7]
Entertainment Weekly (B+)[8]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[9]
NME (8/10)[10]
Pitchfork Media (8.0/10)[11]
PopMatters (favorable)[12]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[1]
Vibe 4.5/5 stars[13]
The Village Voice (favorable)[14]

The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 463,000 copies in its first week. It received general acclaim from most music critics, based on an aggregate score of 84/100 from Metacritic.[15] According to The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), The Black Album is "old-school and utterly modern", as it showed Jay-Z "at the top of his game, able to reinvent himself as a rap classicist at the right time, as if to cement his place in hip-hop's legacy for generations to come".[16] Steve 'Flash' Juon at Rap gave the album a nine out of 10 rating and stated, "Whether this release will settle the debate about his rank in hip-hop or just fuel the discussion further is ultimately not as important as whether or not this is a good album. It's not a good album - it's a GREAT album." [17]

Steve Jones of USA Today gave the album four out of four stars and stated, "He enlisted beats from an all-star cast of producers, who come through with top-shelf work. But it's Jigga's trademark lyrical dexterity and diversified deliveries that put him on a level all his own."[18] In a retrospective review, Robert Christgau gave the album an A rating in his consumer guide for MSN Music.[7] Christgau noted varied producers on each track, writing that "each one sounds different, each one means different, and each one kills", and stated, "[Jay-Z]'s got a right to celebrate his autobiography in rhyme because he's on track to become a personage who dwarfs any mere rapper, and not only can he hire the best help dark green can buy, he can make it sing."[7]

Pitchfork Media ranked The Black Album at number 90 on its list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s,[19] and Slant Magazine ranked it number 7 on its list of the Top 100 Albums of the 2000s.[20] According to Billboard, the album is Jay-Z's top selling album of the 2000s and the 136th highest selling album of the decade in the United States.[21]

Track listing

# Title Producer(s) Samples Length
1 "Interlude" Just Blaze 1:22
2 "December 4th"[22] Just Blaze 4:32
3 "What More Can I Say" The Buchanans 4:55
4 "Encore" Kanye West 4:11
5 "Change Clothes" (featuring Pharrell) The Neptunes
  • "Change" by Jay-Z & Pharrell Williams
6 "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" Timbaland 4:05
7 "Threat" 9th Wonder 4:05
8 "Moment of Clarity" Eminem, Luis Resto (co) 4:24
9 "99 Problems" Rick Rubin 3:56
10 "Public Service Announcement" Just Blaze 2:53
11 "Justify My Thug" DJ Quik 4:05
12 "Lucifer" Kanye West
  • Samples from "Chase the Devil" by Max Romeo
13 "Allure" The Neptunes 4:52
14 "My 1st Song" Aqua, Joe "3H" Weinberger 4:45

Chart history

Chart positions

Chart (2003) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 1
U.S. Top Rap Albums 1 [23]
Year Song Chart positions
Billboard Hot 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles
2003 "What More Can I Say" - #48 -
"Change Clothes" #10 #6 #4
2004 "Encore" #106 #30 #22
"Dirt Off Your Shoulder" #5 #3 #2
"99 Problems" #30 #26 #10

Chart procession and succession

Preceded by
Shock'n Y'all by Toby Keith
Billboard 200 number-one album (First Run)
November 23, 2003 - November 29, 2003
Succeeded by
In the Zone by Britney Spears
Preceded by
In the Zone by Britney Spears
Billboard 200 number-one album (Second Run)
December 7, 2003 - December 13, 2003
Succeeded by
The Diary of Alicia Keys by Alicia Keys


  • Executive Producers: Shawn Carter, Damon Dash, Kareem "Biggs" Burke
  • A&R Direction: Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua
  • A&R: Lenny S.
  • A&R Direction/Join Venture: Darcell Lawrence
  • A&R Administration: Rob Mitchell
  • Recording Administration: Rob Mitchell
  • Mastering: Tony Dawsey
  • Marketing: Shari Bryant, Amber Noble
  • Management: Roc-A-Fella Management
  • Art Direction & Design: Robert Sims
  • Principal Photography: Jonathan Mannion
  • Additional Photography: Lenny "kodak man" Santiago, Walik Goshorn
  • Legal Counsel: Michael Guido, Jennifer Justice
  • Business Affairs for Roc-A-Fella Records: Michael Seltzer, Ian Allen, Antoinette Trotman, Jeff Kempler
  • Sample Clearance Agent: Eric Weissman

See also


  1. ^ a b Touré. Review: The Black Album. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  2. ^ Grammy Award Nominees. Retrieved on 2011.05.10.
  3. ^ Grammy Award Winners. Retrieved on 2011.05.10.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Bobby Creekwater - "Hello World"
  6. ^ Bush, John. Review: The Black Album. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  7. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (September 9, 2011). "Jay-Z". MSN Music. Microsoft. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 
  8. ^ Drumming, Neil. Review: The Black Album. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  9. ^ Baker, Soren. Review: The Black Album. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  10. ^ Columnist. "Review: The Black Album". NME: November 22, 2003. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  11. ^ Staff. Review: The Black Album. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  12. ^ Goldstein, Hartley. Review: The Black Album. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  13. ^ Editors, The. "Review: The Black Album". Vibe: 120. January 2004.
  14. ^ Berry, Elizabeth Mendez. Review: The Black Album. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  15. ^ The Black Album (2003): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  16. ^ Hoard, Christian. "Review: The Black Album". Rolling Stone: 424–425. November 2, 2004.
  17. ^ "The Black Album" (2003): Jay-Z: Reviews. Retrieved on December 16, 2010.
  18. ^ Jones, Steve. Review: The Black Album. USA Today. Retrieved on 2009-10-02.
  19. ^ Pitchfork staff (September 30, 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 100-51". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved October 1, 2009. 
  20. ^ Slant staff (February 1, 2010). "The Top 100 Albums of the 2000s: 10-1". Slant Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  21. ^ Decade-end Charts. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-29.
  22. ^ "Jay-Z 'Decoded'", Fresh Air interview transcript, November 16, 2010. Song title is Jay-Z's birthday; his mother speaks on the track about his birth; recorded on her birthday, September 17. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
  23. ^

External links

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