Review #67: Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z

Karla Clifton
3 min readApr 9, 2021

#67: Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z

I’ve described my relationship with Jay-Z as “long and complicated” in the past, but I should clarify that it’s mostly positive. I like to listen to Jay-Z songs, I just don’t like to listen to his albums so much. I consider myself a casual rap fan, so I assumed that I would hear Jay-Z and immediately get it, like how I immediately got My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (#17).

But I didn’t. I don’t. Jay-Z is nothing more than pleasant background noise to me.

However, the RS blurb describes Jay-Z as “Beyonce’s boy toy.” Excuse me? Isn’t that a little bit ungenerous for the genius behind TIDAL?! That makes me extremely defensive on his behalf. How DARE they.

Reasonable Doubt is Jay’s debut, and yes, it is great. What else am I supposed to say?


“Can’t Knock The Hustle” — With Mary J. Blige! Jay-Z is right, I can’t knock his hustle. In some ways, I appreciate Jay-Z most when he’s at his most brashly confident.

“Politics As Usual” — Gosh, Jay-Z has such a sound.

“Brooklyn’s Finest” — With Biggie! This one is brutal. I love it.

“Dead Presidents II” — Aw hell yeah.

“Feelin’ It” — With someone called “Mecca,” who sounds very badass.

“22 Twos” — And here is when I learned that “Can I kick it?/ Yes, you can!” (which Jay-Z samples here) is from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” Which appears on their debut People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, which is NOT ON THIS LIST. There’s just too much great music in the world, man.

“Can I Live” — This might be my favorite. I way prefer this album to The Blueprint (#50).

“Ain’t No N****” — This is a very difficult song not to sing along to, especially because the female rapper on this, Foxy Brown, is so damn cool. Also, the chorus CRACKS ME UP. Friends all tell me I should leave you alone/ Tell those freaks to find a man of they own.

“Friend or Foe” — A skit with a one-minute song!

“Bring It On” — I love how he always makes a point to name his record company. Can’t knock the hustle!

“Can I Live II” — Still love this song, but minus points for the gay slur. What’s your problem, Jay-Z?


“Coming of Age” — Okay, now I’m bored.

“Cashmere Thoughts” — Okay, yes, I’m over it.

“Regrets” — Jay-Z, why do you bore me so?


Yes. I can’t believe they think The Blueprint is better than this, and that kind of disrespect to Jay-Z is staggering. “Beyonce’s boy toy.” The nerve!

Review #66: A Love Supreme, John Coltrane

Review #68: Hounds of Love, Kate Bush