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Download Black Album Jay Z: The Complete Guide to the Hip-Hop Classic



The Black Album is the eighth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released on November 14, 2003, through Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. It was advertised as his final album before retiring, which is also a recurring theme throughout the songs,[1] although Jay-Z resumed his recording career in 2005. For the album, Jay-Z wanted to enlist a different producer for each song, working with Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes, Eminem, DJ Quik, Timbaland, 9th Wonder and Rick Rubin, among others. The album also features a guest appearance by Pharrell Williams.


The Black Album was promoted with a retirement tour by Jay-Z. It was also supported by three singles: "99 Problems", also the Billboard top-ten hits "Change Clothes" and "Dirt off Your Shoulder". The album received widespread acclaim from music critics and was a massive commercial success. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 463,000 copies in its first week. It became Jay-Z's top selling record of the 2000s decade, and was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2005. The songs "Encore", "Dirt off Your Shoulder", and "99 Problems" are all on the Mashup EP, Collision Course with Linkin Park.




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The Black Album was met with widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, it received an average score of 84, based on 19 reviews.[2] AllMusic's John Bush claimed Jay-Z was retiring at his peak with the album.[3] Vibe magazine said it was remarkable as an apotheosis of his genuinely thoughtful songwriting and lyrics "delivered with transcendent skill",[13] while Steve Jones from USA Today said even with "top-shelf work" from elite producers, the album was elevated by Jay-Z's uniquely deft and diverse rapping style.[12] Writing for The A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin felt Jay-Z returned to "brevity and consistency" on an album that demonstrated his lyrical abilities and, more importantly, hip hop's best producers.[14] Jon Caramanica wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) that The Black Album was both "old-school and utterly modern", showcasing Jay-Z "at the top of his game, able to reinvent himself as a rap classicist at the right time, as if to cement his place in hip-hop's legacy for generations to come".[15]


In 2005, The Black Album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album,[17] losing to Kanye West's The College Dropout at the 47th Grammy Awards.[18] It was ranked number 349 on Rolling Stone's 2012 edition of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and rose to number 155 on the list's 2020 edition.[19][20] Pitchfork ranked The Black Album at number 90 on its decade-end list of the top 200 albums from the 2000s,[21] while Slant Magazine ranked it seventh best on a similar list.[22] In 2012, Complex named it one of the "classic" records of the previous decade.[23]


The Black Album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 463,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen Soundscan.[24] This became Jay-Z's sixth US number one album.[24] Another note on the alter was that the Black Album also blocked the soundtrack to the Tupac Shakur documentary, Tupac: Resurrection, and the G-Unit debut album, Beg for Mercy, from the top position. Both albums charted at numbers two and three respectively.[25] In its second week, the album dropped to number four on the chart, selling an additional 288,000 copies.[26] In its third week, the album climbed to number one on the chart, selling 288,000 more copies.[27] In its fourth week, the album dropped to number ten on the chart, selling 124,000 copies.[28] On August 16, 2005, the album was certified RIAA Certification triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of over three million copies.[29] As of July 2013, the album had sold 3,516,000 copies in the US.[30] According to Billboard, it became Jay-Z's top selling record of the 2000s and the 136th highest selling record of the decade in the United States.[31]


Three singles were released from the album and appeared on the Billboard charts. "Change Clothes" and "Dirt off Your Shoulder" both reached the top 10 of the Hot 100, while "99 Problems" peaked at number 30.[32]


In December 2004 Roc-A-Fella Records released The Black Album on vinyl with no beats underneath Jay-Z's lyrics, spurring producers and DJs to rework his farewell disc into creations such as The Brown Album and even The Grey Album, by Los Angeles producer Danger Mouse, which combines Jay's words with music from the Beatles' self-titled album (also known as the "White Album"), breaking with the Roc-A-Fella's tradition of not releasing acappella 12-inches, so producers could "remix the hell out of it."[33]


Several notable reworkings were released but of all the remixed albums, The Grey Album was the most popular. The hype around The Grey Album gained notoriety when EMI attempted to halt its distribution despite approval from Jay-Z and the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.[34] EMI ordered Danger Mouse and retailers carrying the album to cease distribution.[35] Music industry activist group Downhill Battle responded by coordinating Grey Tuesday, an electronic civil disobedience event held on February 24, 2004. Participating websites posted copies of The Grey Album for free download for a 24-hour period in protest of EMI's attempts to prevent distribution of the mashup on the grounds that sampling is fair use and that a statutory license should be provided in the same manner as if an artist were to perform or record a cover version of a song. Hundreds of web sites publicized the event with 170 hosting the album for download. Over 100,000 copies were downloaded on that day alone.[36] The legal repercussions of the protest were minimal; a number of the participants received cease and desist letters from EMI, but no charges were filed in connection with the event.


The Grey Album is a mashup album by Danger Mouse, released in 2004.[1][2][3][4] It mixes an a cappella version of rapper Jay-Z's The Black Album with samples from the Beatles' self-titled ninth album, commonly known as "The White Album". The Grey Album gained notoriety when EMI attempted to halt its distribution despite approval of the project from Jay-Z and the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.[5]


Danger Mouse created The Grey Album as an experimental project intended for a limited 3,000-copy release in February 2004. While Danger Mouse never asked permission to use the Beatles' material, Jay-Z's a cappella recordings, though copyrighted, were released commercially for the purpose of encouraging mashups and remixes.[6] A buzz around the album resulted in wider Internet distribution and media attention garnering a glowing review in the February 9, 2004 issue of The New Yorker. The Grey Album was named the best album of 2004 by Entertainment Weekly and ranked No. 10 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop critics poll.[1]


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