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Jay-Z's classic debut is a compelling reflection on his life as a hustler. It's invested with an uncommon complexity and candor that has noticeably faded in his later material. Armed with clever phrasing and sly deadpan wit, Jay-Z navigates indulgent romps ("Can't Knock the Hustle"), thought-provoking introspection ("Regrets"), and devastating street-corner soliloquies ("Friend or Foe") with savvy composure. The beats onReasonable Doubt, provided by the likes of DJ Premier & Ski, are as irresistibly slick as his persona. "Brooklyn's Finest," his mic-passing session with his friendNotorious B.I.G., takes on a torch-passing significance in the wake of Biggie's death. That song, and the entire album, foreshadows Jay-Z's subsequent ascension to kingpin status.--Del. F. Cowie
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Label:  Roc-A-Fella
ArtistJay-Z
Release Date:  November 14, 2006
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