Happy 20th Anniversary, 'Reasonable Doubt'

Shamarie By Shamarie, 25th Jun 2016 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3omigqnp/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Entertainment

Today, June 25, 2016, marks the 20th anniversary of Jay-Z's first rap album, Reasonable Doubt. Many hip hop fans have viewed it as Jay-Z's best studio album.

Epic Debut

Two decades today, on June 25, 1996, legendary hip-hop artist Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter dropped his epic debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt. It was released by Roc-A-Fella Records and Priority Records. The rap album features production provided by DJ Premier, Ski, Knobody and Clark Kent, and also it includes musical guest appearances from the late great Notorious B.I.G., “The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige and Memphis Bleek, among others. The album features Mafioso rap themes and gritty lyrics about the "hustler" lifestyle and material obsessions.

Reasonable Doubt debuted at number 23 on the US Billboard 200, on which it charted for 18 weeks. It was promoted with four singles; including the Billboard Hot 100-charting hits such as "Ain't No Nigga" and "Can't Knock the Hustle". Reasonable Doubt was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and as of 2006, has sold 1.5 million copies in the United States. A critical success, it has been ranked on several publications' lists of the greatest rap albums ever, while many hip hop fans have viewed it as Jay-Z's best work.

To my assessment, Reasonable Doubt was the soundtrack to the New York hustle. I felt like this was the continuation to Notorious BI.G.’s first album, Ready To Die. Where Ready to Die ended with Biggie Smalls' heartbeat slowing down to a morbid silence, Reasonable Doubt began with a heartbeat. Jay-Z pieced together a flawless masterpiece the first time around. Jay-Z based the album on his past criminal lifestyle, and I felt all the emotions on Reasonable Doubt. Jay-Z's Mafioso rap goes well with the soul and jazz samples. The highlights of this album were "Can I Live," "Brooklyn's Finest," "Dead Presidents II," "Ain't No Nigga," and "Can't Knock the Hustle".


Reasonable Doubt has often been considered by many fans to be Jay-Z's best studio album. It is one of the finest albums of New York's hip-hop renaissance of the 1990s. Reasonable Doubt is often compared to many landmark rap albums such as Illmatic, Ready to Die, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, and Paid In Full.

In 2006, Jay-Z performed the songs from Reasonable Doubt at the Radio City Music Hall to celebrate its historic tenth anniversary. The concert's band included The Roots' drummer Questlove, the Illadelphonics, a 50-piece orchestra dubbed The Hustla's Symphony and Just Blaze, the performance's disc jockey. On "Can't Knock the Hustle", Beyoncé Knowles replaced Mary J. Blige, who was preparing for her Breakthrough Tour at the time. Jay-Z rapped The Notorious B.I.G.'s verses on "Brooklyn's Finest", and Jaz-O's verse was left out of "Bring It On". Jay-Z added a verse to "22 Two's" in which he says variations of the words "for/four" 44 times over the beat of "Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest. Other alterations include Jay-Z changing a lyrical mention of Cristal to Dom Pérignon and Jay-Z's band "sprucing up tracks like 'Regrets' to add more energy". Celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Young Jeezy, Jadakiss, Chris Tucker, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony attended the concert. 3,000 tickets were put on sale; all were sold within two minutes according to Roc-A-Fella Records' website.

Today, Reasonable Doubt is still celebrated and enjoyed by many fans of the hip-hop culture.


Images credit


Hip-Hop, Jay-Z, Rap Album, Shamarie Knight

Meet the author

author avatar Shamarie
I am a passionate writer from Harlem, New York. My expertise is creative writing and poetry. I enjoy expressing myself freely on paper and sharing my ideas with the world.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
28th Jun 2016 (#)

Shamarie, thanks for sharing a great article. I love the pictures. Jay-Z is awesome!

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author avatar Shamarie
28th Jun 2016 (#)

Thanks!!! I was playing this album Saturday night to celebrate the 25th anniversary.

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
24th Jan 2017 (#)

So many posers. So few artists. Great recap, Shamarie!

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