33. Jay-Z, Kingdom Come (2006)
In 2003, Jay-Z released The Black Album, which was built around his supposed retirement as a solo artist. Over the next three years he was named president and CEO of Def Jam while maintaining a busy schedule of concerts and cameo appearances on other artist’s albums (including an entire album and tour with R. Kelly). Inevitably, Jay returned in 2006 with Kingdom Come, having created a set of circumstances guaranteeing expectations for the album would be massive. It sold, of course, but reviews were mixed and overall it was viewed as a disappointment.
In hindsight, though, it’s actually pretty good. Jay’s assessment of the state of the record industry and his own career at the top of the album is riveting. From there, he rips through three tracks from Just Blaze, the best of which, “Kingdom Come,” lifts a slice from Rick James’ “Super Freak” without calling MC Hammer to mind, a nice touch.
Hov gets uncharacteristically revealing about his personal life on “Lost One,” even appearing to explain that he planned to break-up with Beyonce (no one noticed, proof no one ever really listened to this album). Best of all is “Trouble,” where Jay just jumps on a beat and raps and raps and raps.
All of this looked even better once Jay-Z released The Blueprint 3. Pitchfork said, “The Blueprint 3 is so certainly Jay-Z’s weakest solo album, you’ll be tempted to wonder if Kingdom Come was somehow underrated.” It was.