Back on his 44th birthday, Jay Z did his fans, detractors and everybody else a favor. He hopped on his now defunct website Life + Times to rank his albums from best to worst. To the surprise of no one, he placed his comeback-from-retirement album Kingdom Come beneath the rest of his discography both literally and figuratively. “First game back, don’t shoot me,” he said, thus admitting that the comeback from his Def Jam corporate takeover was more Jordan with the Wizards than Jordan for the second three-peat.
Nobody was arguing his ranking, even Jay and Kingdom Come‘s most staunch supporters would have to admit there are notable misfires on the album. “Anything” may be the worst song of his storied career, “30 Something” was a laughable attempt to make old seem cool and “Hollywood” was simply grating. Even the return single “Show Me What You Got,” produced by Just Blaze, was a flashy, hollow attempt at a restoration of the legend of Jay Z.
But much like Jordan’s time with Washington, there were moments where the old Hov we knew and loved poked through and flashed what truly could have been, like when the album opened with “Prelude,” a chorus-less intro to the album over a smooth B-Money production. For nearly three minutes, Jay laments his past life “before The Answer was a 3.” Today is the tenth anniversary of that album, so let’s take a look back through what it means now.