Review #155: The Black Album, Jay-Z

Karla Clifton
2 min readAug 17, 2021

#155: The Black Album, Jay-Z

Oh, joy, another Jay-Z album. The worse half of the Bey-Z combo. Great.

Maybe I’m just salty because I went for a run the first time I listened to this album, and when “99 Problems” came on, one of my wireless earbuds fell out and I lost it forever. Although thinking about it now makes me laugh. I have 99 problems and I am the cause of all of them.

Or maybe it’s that in 2004, one year after this one was released, he released a collaborative album with R. Kelly, who is a strong contender for worst person alive. (Yeah, I’m not gonna link the album.) For reference, the video of R. Kelly horrifically abusing an underaged girl came to light in 2002.

Ugh. Let’s get this over with.


“December 4th” — I see, that’s his birthday. How nice.

“What More Can I Say?” — Oh hell yeah, Russell Crowe is on this album. Are you not entertained?!

“Change Clothes” — Pharrell Williams is here! This music video has Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos in it, and if that isn’t evidence that Jay-Z ruled the world in 2003, I don’t know what is.

“Dirt Off Your Shoulder” — I loved this one, but that “brushing” sound effect started driving me nuts.

“Moment of Clarity”Talib Kweli shoutout!

“99 Problems” — Think you know what this song is about? Think again! It’s actually about Jay-Z getting pulled over with a bunch of cocaine in his car and narrowly avoiding a run-in with police dogs. Yikes.

“Justify My Thug” — I will say, Jay-Z does samples and interpolations really well. This is a play on the Madonna song “Justify My Love.” How badass!

“Lucifer” — And this one samples Max Romeo’s “Chase The Devil.” Of course that was Kanye West’s idea.

“My 1st Song” — Love this song. Love the weirdo time signature, love the guitar, love that apparently this was Barry O’s favorite song during the 2012 election?! What a world.


“Interlude (Intro)” — This is the first song and it’s like elevator music. Jay-Z, are you serious?! Is this supposed to get me excited for this album??


Okay, do I think that Jay-Z deserves 3 spots on this list? Not really. But I’m not a Jay-Z fan, so I can’t tell which of his albums is best: this, The Blueprint, or Reasonable Doubt. So let’s just say that MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent should be occupying one of these spots and wash our hands of Jay-Z forever.

Review #154: Amazing Grace, Aretha Franklin

Review #156: Let It Be, The Replacements