Reasonable Doubt: Re-Living Jay-Z’s Classic Album 24 Years Later

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July 23, 2020

The year was 1996. Hip Hop is in a fragile, yet special space at this time. Death Row Records was currently on top of the genre following the release of 2Pac’s first album on the label, with the double disc LP, All Eyez On Me. We’re right in the middle of the famed east coast/west coast beef, three months before 2Pac is gunned down in Las Vegas.

It was a special year up to this point. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony had just reached the #1 spot with their smash hit single “Tha Crossroads,” and its classic video, which paid respects to the recently passed Eazy-E, and others. As for the east coast, Busta Rhymes had released his first solo album since the messy and infamous break up with Leaders Of The New School led by the single “Woo Hah, I Got You All In Check.” Meanwhile, The Fugees were standing on top with their classic album, The Score as hip hop fans anticipated the sophomore release of Queensbridge’s own Nas as he geared up for the follow up to a classic album of his own in Illmatic to release It Was Written.

Somewhere in between the shadows was an MC from Brooklyn named Jay-Z. You know, that guy with the Hawaiian shirt in the music video with his (former) friend Jaz-O. That skinny guy with the big lips and low haircut who hangs out with Notorious B.I.G. Known in the streets for his freestyling ability, he, Dame Dash, and Kareem “Biggs” Burke decided to rebel from trying to be accepted by major record labels and instead do things on their own by creating Roc-A-Fella records. An album named Reasonable Doubt would be the first project to be released after scoring a distribution deal with Priority.

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