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Reasonable Doubt

by JAY-Z

Released June 25, 1996 via Priority Records / Roc-A-Fella Records

Reviewed July 1, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Dead Presidents II (82%), D’evils (50%), Can’t Knock the Hustle (44%)

Marking the start to one of the most iconic hip-hop careers, Reasonable Doubt sets the tone early: Jay-Z is to be respected. A true classic by any definition, this album gave us retrospective hit after hit. From the lyrical truth of “Dead Presidents” to the legendary flow on “Brooklyn’s Finest,” Jay was able to accomplish a purposefully dope project. His blend of conscious New York rap and unique vocal inflections yielded an album that’s been praised for decades. Whether you’re a fan of Jay-Z or not, greatness while its presence is still felt should always be appreciated. – Daniel (9.7/10)

In 1996, Jay-Z was still a minnow fighting for his place in a sea of legends in their prime, all trying to make their mark in the gold rush that was mafioso rap. But with Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z earned a spot on the Pantheon of ‘90s rappers and laid the foundation for one of the best careers of his contemporaries. Still new to the rap game, he had the storytelling abilities and wisdom of a grizzled veteran—largely due to his experience in living the life that he rapped about—but spit with such a hunger that you had to take him seriously. It’s a gem to watch one of the most skilled rappers of all-time go out of his way to prove his lyrical prowess. Over time, the drug raps and the need to prove himself would give way to a more luxury-oriented, convincing delivery. But Reasonable Doubt was one of the best stepping stones one could have for their career, earning its place as an essential album for the entire genre of rap. – Alan (8.6/10)

Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, arguably the biggest debut for one of the biggest names in the Hip-Hop hemisphere over the last 20 years, celebrates its 25th revolution around the sun. Jay's knack for the mafioso rap game knows no bounds. Building on the likes of Rakim and Kool G Rap's legacies, Jay took the code of the streets to the inevitable next level, building an empire in the process. ReasonableDoubt sits at the forefront of 90's Hip-Hop and acts a precursor of things to come with its sheen-like glisten. His infectious personality and bold bravado push Jay’s style to the forefront from the get-go. Braggadocious New York leanings serve as a testament to the history of Hip-Hop's timeline. Not many artists have carved out a lane as fine and affluent as Shawn Carter, and his debut project pushes that beyond a reasonable doubt. – Peter (8/10)


Daniel: 9.7/10 | Ben (Synth): 9.5/10 | Enth: 9/10 | Hadley: 9/10

Jared: 9/10 | Pax: 8.9/10 | DeVán: 8.8/10 | Alan: 8.6/10

Dominick: 8.5/10 | Cam: 8.5/10 | Peter: 8/10

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