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Jayz & “Reasonable Doubt”

“THROWBACK REWIND SERIES”

When i think of Jayz’ s 1996 album “Reasonable Doubt”,  i think of a soundtrack to the ultimate street hustler movie. What “Reasonable Doubt” is to hiphop music is similar to the creative brilliance of its movie conterpart, i.e a “Scarface”, “Goodfellas” or the “The Godfather”. Although unappreciated by certain sectors of society in relation to these movies in american culture, hiphop music has continued to gain popularity among the masses. However to many of these same sectors of society hiphop and/or rap music is nothing more than a collection of youth glorifying themes of violence, ignorance, misogyny, disrespect and drug use among others.

However to the untrained eye and ear the hiphop culture, specifically the actual music is nothing more than cultural expression, art and of course entertainment. If the movie “Scarface” and the award winning actors and producers of that movie can recieve critical and commercial accliam which they should, for their depiction of mafia life, then hiphop artist who craft quality narration of that same life style in musical form should to. And Yes!, Reasonable Doubt is one of those albums.

On Sean Carter’s 14 track offering the Brooklyn mc puts on display his witty flows weaving in out and around the hustlers mentality. Right from the jump, the opening track “Cant Knock the Hustle” Jayz shows hes going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. On the track S. Carter raps…

I gotta, let you niggaz know the time like Movado
My motto, stack rocks like Colorado
Auto off the champagne, Cristal’s by the bottle
It’s a damn shame what you’re not though (who?) Me
Slick like a gato, fuckin Jay-Z
My pops knew exactly what he did when he made me
Tried to get a nut and he got a nut and what
Straight bananas; can a nigga, see me?
Got the US Open, advantage Jigga
Serve like Sampras, play fake a rappers like a campus
Le Tigre, son you’re too eager
You ain’t havin it?  Good, me either
Let’s, get together and make this whole world believe us huh?
At my arraignment, screamin
all us blacks got is sports and entertainment, until we even
Thievin, as long as I’m breathin
Can’t knock the way a nigga eatin – fuck you even!”

Mary J Blige’s contribution to the track is just icing on the cake. the album keeps the momentum going on the next 4 tracks, “Politics as Usual”, then the late great B.I.G featured verse for verse dopeness of “Brooklyns finest”, “Dead Presidents”, and “Feelin It”. One of the standout cuts from “Reasonable Doubt” is the follow up song “D’Evils”. On the track Jayz depicts in HD clarity the mentality of a man deep in the game faced with the ills of that lifestyle. On “D’Evils” Jay raps…

This shit is wicked on these mean streets
None of my friends speak
We’re all trying to win, but then again
Maybe it’s for the best though, cause when they’re seeing too much
You know they’re trying to get you touched
Whoever said illegal was the easy way out couldn’t understand the mechanics
And the workings of the underworld, granted
Nine to five is how to survive, I ain’t trying to survive
I’m trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot
Life ills, poison my body
I used to say ‘fuck mic skills’
And never prayed to God, I prayed to Gotti
That’s right it’s wicked, that’s life I live it
Ain’t asking for forgiveness for my sins, ends
I break bread with the late heads, picking their brains for angles on
all the evils that the game’ll do
It gets dangerous, money and power is changing us
And now we’re lethal, infected with D’Evils”

On the next track “22 Two’s” spits a freestyle-ess assault on a stripped down Ski produced track, followed by the banger “Can I Live”. On the latter Sean Carter continues his commentary of the hustler thought process, on his final verse he raps…

My mind is infested, with sick thoughts that circle
like a Lexus, if driven wrong it’s sure to hurt you
Dual level like duplexes, in unity, my crew and me
commit atrocities like we got immunity
You guessed it, manifest it in tangible goods
Platinum Rolexed it, we don’t lease
we buy the whole car, as you should
My confederation, dead a nation, EXPLODE
on detonation, overload the mind of a said patient
When it balls to steam, it comes to it
we all fiends gotta do it, even righteous minds go through this
True this, the streets school us to spend our money foolish
Bond with jewellers and, watch for intruders
I stepped it up another level, meditated like a buddhist
Recruited lieutenants with ludicrous, dreams of
gettin cream let’s do this, it gets te-di-ous
So I keep one eye open like, C-B-S, ya see me
stressed right?  Can I live?” 

As good as Jayz’s debut album is, the second half of the album does lose a little steam. However not enough from keeping this album from being a certified classic album overall. The record comes to a fitting end on the closeout track, “Regrets”, where Jayz breaks down in different aspects of his earlier years how he felt the negative pull of poor judgement and the feeling being boxed to the circumstances that attributed to Sean Carter the hustler. On the closeout track he raps…

As sure as this, Earth is turning souls burning
in search of higher learning turning in every direction seeking direction
My moms cryin cause her insides are dyin
her son tryin her patience, keep her heart racin
A million beats a minute, I know I push you to your limit
but it’s this game love, I’m caught up all in it
They make it so you can’t prevent it, never give it
you gotta take it, can’t fake it I keep it authentic
My hand got this pistol shakin, cause I sense danger
like Camp Crystal Lake and
don’t wanna shoot him, but I got him, trapped
within this infrared dot, bout to hot him and, hit rock bottom
No answers to these trick questions, no time shit stressin
My life found I got ta live for the right now
Time waits for no man, can’t turn back the hands
once it’s too late, gotta learn to live with regrets”

After over 15 years since jayz’s debut “Reasonable Doubt” the self proclaimed greatest of all-time has gone on to have a slew of hits, critical acclaim and commerical success. Although Jayz is over 10 albums deep in his career it was his debut album that endeared him the most to his loyal fans because of the albums first class production from the likes of Ski Beats, DJ Premier, Clark Kent among others, and a lyrical dissertation of sorts into the mind of the Marcy Projects hustler. Just like a great Mob Film that grips the movie goer into the lives of its characters and their subsequent plots, Jayz does the same on this album bringing to life the good and the bad of the hustler. Now thats a film that deserves an oscar…   #HaitianJack

Score:  Reasonable Doubt (Released June 1996)

Bars: XXL    Beats: XXL    Music: XXL     Report Card: A+(Classic)

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About hiphopbars2beats4review

Love Music!!!

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