eMusic Review 0
Every rapper needs a creation myth — Illmatic opened with Nas and A.Z. counting money over snippets from Wild Style, the devil's sons redeemed by hip-hop. Biggie opened Ready to Die with a gripping audio collage of his first twenty-odd years, as though his rag-to-riches tale was one you needed to learn. Jay opened Reasonable Doubt with a heartbeat, but its quickening pace suggested it was the sound of fear — of moving your first package; of holding your first gun; of seeing a man die; of the moment when you realize you have grown up too fast. This wasn't an album deeply concerned with where Jay had been, since he had already built his name as a rather successful drug dealer. This album was about one man's rebirth, and as soon as that ticking heart gave way to the gloss and floss of “Can't Knock the Hustle,” it was clear that Jay, too, had arrived.
“My pops knew exactly what he did when he made me/ Tried to get a nut and he got a nut,” he bragged on that opening cut, as Mary J. Blige bellowed an achingly hopeful chorus borrowed from Mel'isa Morgan's “Fool's Paradise.” But was… read more »