Saturday, August 14, 2010

Black, White, and Hova All Over

Even with all of the new music picked up at the library a few days ago, today was a day for vinyl shopping. I explored a little outside of my usual section which should be called "Anything Older Than 1983," in favor of a newer artist. That usually means spending more on the record and surprisingly fewer options, but it's a risk worth taking if you find the perfect missing piece to your collection. And today it was a corner piece: The Black Album.

This is the only the third album I've bought wrapped up and scratch-free. Sometimes I can't understand why a $23 new album could be pitted against an $8 copy that's been opened and played once. But Jay-Z's Black Album was offensively on sale, and it seemed too easy to pass.

The top pictures are pulled from the photo collage included in the album. Seems a little cheesy for Jay-Z, a little too thug-scrapbooky, but appealing to dweebs like me who want to know more about the people behind recording and producing.

Middle pics: the list. With the help of Damon Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke, Hova produced one of his most successful and appreciated albums of his career. You might recognize a couple of hits with "Change Clothes," "99 Problems" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," which make any hit off "The Blueprint 3" seem like mixtape throwaways.

But the real stuff, typical with any rapper, is found on B-sides. "Justify My Thug" and "My 1st Song" along with "Lucifer" are some of Jay's crowning achievements. Take a listen to the whole album, including interludes. The progression is remarkable, the themes dark and unashamed.

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