Ever since the release of the classic Cuban Linx album from Raekwon the Chef, The Rap game started becoming infested with All these wannabe Gambinos, Big Willies, and hustlers. When I first heard JayZ rap, I wasn’t really too impressed because I thought he was kinda of corny with the fast rapping style but it wasn’t until I heard Cant Knock the Hustle that I started to take notice. JayZ brings nothing new to the table subject manner wise but there’s no denying Jay is a VERY gifted emcee, For those who didn’t know, Jay has been in the game for a long time prior to this album As a matter of fact his career started in 1989 and dropped his first single title Hawaii Sophie with Jaz-O.
But making sure that everything is perfect, Jay spent several years mastering his craft as an emcee and the results is one of Hip Hops greatest debuts/albums ever. The Album’s first single Cant Knock the Hustle which is the 2nd single of the album had just enough commercial appeal to get airplay as well as appeal to the streets. Jay was also spitting some serious game about how the Urban youth have to make the best of the limited opportunities whenever it be sports, rapping or hustling.
Although he glorifies the Big Willie style image on songs like Feelin It, The very pimped out Cashmere Thoughts and Aint No N!gga featuring a hot performance from Foxxy Brown. You can’t deny or even front on some of the fly mackish lyrics that Jay be spitting on these tracks. Even the so-called die-hard “real hip hop heads” couldn’t deny the magic that was felt on this album because Jay felt his back on the wall and you can tell on songs such as the bone chilling Devils where he’s speaking on the evils that come with this success and how he’s in a battle to fight it.
Despite the flamboyance and the glorification of the big willie life. The album isn’t all commercial at it seems. Jay recruited DJ Premier to contribute to a couple of tracks on Bring it On, Friend or foe and the aforementioned D’Evils The Issac Hayes sampled Can I Live is another highlight along with the 22 Twos which could have been a shot at the West Coast when he claims “Theres too Much West Coast dick lickin” considering the hostile East/West war at the time.
While other tracks like Dead Presidents(which has a hot Nas sample) remain as a highlight, None are comparable to the legendary collabo with the late Notorious B.I.G titled Brooklyn’s Finest. This is one of Hip Hop’s best collaborations ever as the two go back and forth on what it seems to be friendly completion on who can have the better verse. It’s still very debatable on who outshined who but its clear that these two sound great together and remains as the albums best track.
Overall There isn’t any filler on the album, This is Jay Z at his best. Whenever he’s flaunting his Big Willie image, bringing you stories about his hustle or displaying his gifted lyricism. This album is a definite must have.