Album: The Black Album
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
By the time Jay-Z closed the book on his recording career—well, the first phase of it, anyway—with 2003's The Black Album, it was already becoming clear that Roc-A-Fella's biggest star in his absence would be not Memphis Bleek or Beanie Sigel but the little producer that could. The Black Album was intended to be a production showcase for several of Jay's favorite beatmakers, but the bottle-clinking snares of "Encore" and "Lucifer" ultimately outshined the contributions of even more established producers like The Neptunes and Timbaland. "Encore" is perhaps the ultimate Black Album cut, with GLC and Don C. egging Hov on.