Happy 21st Birthday to the album that birthed a dynasty.
Today is the 21st birthday of one of the most critically acclaimed albums in hip-hop since Nas’s Illmatic. On June 25th, 1996 Shawn Carter dropped one of the most groundbreaking albums in hip-hop, Reasonable Doubt. RD isn’t groundbreaking for its famous features, nor is it groundbreaking for its production. Some would argue it’s not even Jay’s best. What made Reasonable Doubt legendary is that we were witnessing the birth of a dynasty. Little did we know back in 1996 that the guy who rocked “Hawaiian Sophie” with Jaz-O would be one of the greatest rappers alive, and turn into a million dollar business mogul. So with that being said let’s sift through Reasonable Doubt’s Singles.
The first single was Ski Beats produced “Dead Presidents II” a slow silky song with a nice bounce. The gem of this song aside from Jay’s lyrics is the Nas vocal sample in the hook. Some would say this was the first of many riffs that contributed to their beef on wax in 2001. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album with Jay spewing lines like “Hospital dazed, reflectin’ when my man laid up On the uptown high block he got his side sprayed up I saw his life slippin’, this is a minor setback Yo, still in all we livin’, just dream about the get-back That made him smile, though his eyes said “pray for me” I’ll do you one better and slay these niggas faithfully”. His flow was that of a story so sticky and spider web like. Everything he said, every line connected
The second single “Aint No Nigga” was produced by Jay’s former collaborator Jaz-O and featured another Brooklyn MC Foxy Brown. Two things stood out about this single the video and Foxy Brown. I would even go as far to say Fox outshined Jay on this one. I believe this was her breakout moment which led to her solo career. With standout lines like “Tailor made so we can lay up in the shade reminiscing On how I fuck the best and shit Especially when I’m sipping Baileys Don’t give a fuck about how you move with them other mamis I push the Z, eating shrimp scampi with rocks larger than life Fuck them Reebok broads, you made it known who your wife was.” This moment also showed Jay’s versatility with other female MC’s, with Jay nonchalantly throwing Foxy the alley-oop.
The third single “Can’t Knock The Hustle” was actually the introductory song to the album. It set a great tone for the album with Mary J. Blige on the hook. It was sort of a foreshadowing of things to come on the album another great Jay-Z alley-oop. CKTH made you feel the smoothness of Jay’s flow and how smooth the album would flow. With Mary J belting out lines like “But until then lately, I’m the one who’s crazy? Cause that’s the way you’re making me feel I’m just trying to get mine I don’t have the time To knock the hustle for real.” It was a guarantee you couldn’t knock this man’s hustle after hearing this track.
The fourth and final single “Feelin’ It” is my favorite Jay-Z song of all time. Another single on this album where the video speaks volumes. This is the ultimate vacation song, hell this is the ultimate everything song. Another Ski Beats production filled with silky, smooth storytelling flows from Hov. Being the 5th song on the album by the time you get to this song you realize you are knee deep in dopeness. There is no standout line from this song honestly the whole song is standout from beginning to end hook verse and all.