Reasonable Doubt was Jay’s first classic album, coincidentally his debut, just like Nas, Biggie, and Outkast. But after that, Jigga just wasn’t up to THAT level. Sure, he had Vol. 2 which sold extremely well, Vol. 3, and Roc La Familia, but none of those were ever placed on the level that Reasonable Doubt set. Then, in 2001, six years after his debut, Jay-Z and Roc-A-fella were on top of the world with what would be one of the best Hip-Hop albums ever made.
There are too many things that went into this album that made it perfect. For starters was the production: back then, Just Blaze and Kanye West were still new in the game. This ONE ALBUM made them famous. Kanye even still uses this same production style on his own albums (Go listen to “The Glory” from Graduation and tell me it doesn’t sound like “Izzo/H.O.V.A.”). This album is the reason why sampling is hot in the game now, too; before people would jump on a Timbaland style track, Jay-Z included (he does it here, too.). The sampling gave the album a hot soulful sound that made it for the streets, but also a hot banger in the car. It was so different because it could be listened to by anyone, no matter where you were coming from or what kind of music you liked.
Lyrically, I wouldn’t say Hov is better than Reasonable Doubt. But man, the dude’s got quotables! “I do this for my culture/To let ’em know what a nigga looks like when a nigga in the roadster.” DAMN! How about this: “I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell/I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a whale” That’s just too good. He also raps about a diverse amount of topics: Hov’s early business ways(“U Don’t Know”), Growing up on the streets (“Never Change”), his family (“Blueprint/Momma Loves Me”), and a failed relationship (“Song Cry”). The only mistake Jigga made on this one was “Renegade”; when the only guest appearance you have is Eminem on a track produced by HIM, you’re bound to get murdered like Jay did. Other than that, this entire album is amazing. It single handedly set the trends of what Hip-hop would be like in years to come. Not even the Twin Towers falling on the same day as the album’s release could stop it from going 2X Platnum. Or in the words of Jay himself: “Rumor has it the Blueprint classic/Couldn’t even be stopped by Bin Laden”. Nuff Said.