Here is a fun memory excercise for old people: Jay's first album, Reasonable Doubt came out in 1996. That's seventeen years ago. The Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" came out in 1979. That's seventeen years before 1996. So for kids hearing Reasonable Doubt for the first time today, it probably sounds a lot like "Rapper's Delight" did to you when you were hearing Reasonable Doubt for the first time. Which is to say, a lot has changed in the 17 years since Jay Z released his first album. He's gone from Hawaiian shirts to throwbacks to suits, from trying girls out to marrying the undisputed Queen of the World (that's, umm, Beyonce), from Mafioso rap to CEO swagger. So, what’s been the one great constant from almost two decades of mercurial rap stardom?
Memphis Bleek. His music.
Jay has released an 15 studio albums. To provide a sense of scale for that figure, you could combine the catalogs of Eminem and Kanye and Jay would still have two albums on them. In the wake of his recently released and much discussed album Magna Carta Holy Grail, there's been a lot of talk focused on the question of where the album ranks in terms of his massive discography. Well, Complex is here to give you an answer to the question: What is Jay Z’s best album?
That's right. We’re ranking Jay’s albums from worst to best. Ending the debate once and for all. (Hahaha! Sure we are!) And in case you think we got it wrong, we put a poll at the end so we can hear your opinion. It's just our thoughts! (And then, your thoughts.)