Coming off of a somewhat weak album in the form of Vol.2...Hard Knock Life, Jay-Z had to get on the ball and drop something hot. With this album, he did it to a certain extent, but not all the way. He represents at times, but he still could have put forth a much more decent effort with this album, as it was RUMORED to be his last. I got some perspective on this album, and at the time I thought it was his best. Time certainly has been kind to me and my opinions. Here's the review:
Album Highlights: So Ghetto, Do It Again, Dopeman, Watch Me, So Hot(Some Like It Hot), Big Pimpin, There's Been A Murder, and NYMP. The other songs, especially the song with WACK Juvenile, Pop 4 Roc, Girl's Best Friend, Things That U Do, and S.Carter should have been thrown in the recycle bin.
Production: Thumbs SLIGHTLY up. D.J. Premier and Timbaland come through, Swizz tracks was NOT the best beat in the world, possibly his worst, and Irv Gotti and Lil Rob's track on "Watch Me" sounds like a Dr.Dre track. Nothing to write home about here.
Lyrics and Subject Matter: Thumbs in the middle, although lyrically, he shines on So Ghetto, Do It Again, Dopeman, and So Hot.
Originality: Thumbs in the middle, leaning towards down. Nothing groundbreaking or fresh from Jigga here. Just the standard formula of going with what works.
The Last Word: Not a classic by any means, but it was a good step for Jay-Z after dropping the unbalanced Hard Knock Life. It could've been better, but you take what you can get. Overall, a good album, but I wouldn't recommend you going out of your way to get this release.