Category Archives: Albums

DARK vs DARK: A Comparison of ‘The Black Album’ and ‘Beg For Mercy’

It’s rare that a victory lap amounts to much more than gratuitous showboating or preening for your adoring crowd. Yet in 2003, with a planned retirement in his sights, Jay Z went hard in the paint instead of gentle into that good night. The Black Album, which was at the time hailed as his final album, effectively obliterated any and all doubts following his indulgent yet successful The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. Boasting some of the biggest hip-hop producers of its time —The Neptunes, Timbaland, and Kanye West — the record largely eschewed special guests and put the spotlight firmly on the Brooklyn emcee at what could be considered his creative zenith. With ubiquitous singles like “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and “99 Problems,” it went triple-platinum in less than two years.