Fifteen years ago on November 14, 2003 Jay-Z released The Black Album. Boasting production from Just Blaze, The Neptunes, Rick Rubin, Kanye West, Timbaland, 9th Wonder and more, The Black Album was the birth of some of Hov’s most unforgettable music. Think “99 Problems,” “Moment Of Clarity,” “Encore,” “Lucifer,” and “What More Can I Say.”
Now, while Hov winds down after the success of his On The Run II world tour with wife Beyoncé—not to mention their joint album, Everything Is Love—Gloria Carter, Timbaland, Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Roc Nation signee Jay Park, and many more are looking back to 2003 to celebrate and remember his eighth studio album.
Check out what his collaborators have to say below, courtesy of TIDAL.
“You have touched lives and have helped young people achieve their full potential. Keep doing what you do, so proud!” – Gloria Carter, JAY-Z’s mom on “December 4th
“JAY challenges me to create great music that matches his masterful flow. The session for “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” was no different, but as soon as everyone heard that beat, the energy exploded and we knew it was going to be a big one.” – Timbaland, producer on “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”
“I was in the studio listening to JAY and he was recording the album and working on the song “Threat.” I had actually tried to pitch him an idea from Beverly Hills Cop, like, “Is this the man who did this and that for hip-hop?” He was like, “Yo that’s funny, but I need something that’s like threats; that’s almost like a mad rapper.” He left and I was in the studio with Guru and started recording all these ideas, never thinking I was going to make the album. He called me a little while later and told me I made it. It was exciting, and so that’s how I made The Black Album. It was dope.” – Cedric The Entertainer, additional vocals on “Threat.”
“The song that I was probably most moved by was ‘Lucifer.’ I wasn’t around the whole time of The Black Album because my brother just got killed. ‘Lucifer,’ the last verse, it was actually about my brother Bob. It’s so funny because a lot of people today say that’s one of their favorite songs, but they don’t understand who he is talking about. They love the beat, and they love how JAY is flowing on it, but I don’t know if they really understand the lyrics. At that time, it actually angered me because just coming in the studio and hearing that… And now that the album has aged, I am able to appreciate it and I love the fact that he kept my brother’s memory alive.”- Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Co-Executive Producer of The Black Album, stated in a separate interview with TIDAL.
“I think the track that impacted me the most from The Black Album personally was “December 4th.” Just the way he was so open and honest with himself in his lyrics. Told his truth and put it in such clever way, but also sonically made it sound so good. Talking about his family and how he grew up was something I could relate to: just being in high school at the time, skipping class, being passionate about breaking dancing and rapping, trying to get girls, having family problems, etc.” – Roc Nation signee Jay Park states in an essay he recently penned.
Click here to see what 9th Wonder, Just Blaze, Lenny Santiago and more had to say.