“Treat My First Like My Last…”: Jay Z’s ‘Black Album’ Turns 10

11.14.13 6 years ago 72 Comments

Anytime an album’s anniversary passes by, people often say “Aww man, I remember that like yesterday!” With Jay Z’s The Black Album hitting its 10-year milestone, I can firmly say that’s a lie or at least it doesn’t apply to this album.

Two weekends ago, I went diggin’ through old CDs in the garage, trying to find this bad boy just off sheer coincidence. Before buying physical records became more challenging, Jiggaman was an artist who I made it a point to have copies of all his LPs. Kanye, Killer Mike, T.I. and Nas were others on the same short list and I think I have everything by each one of these guys up until around 2010. And I thought I had The Black Album, too, but my search didn’t turn up anything so Amazon or eBay will be my next stops because I have to have it.

TBA‘s significance to me is that it’s the last thorough album from Jay. Yes, Blueprint 3 had its shares of highs (and lows) and American Gangster was a conceptual masterpiece (and nobody will ever discuss Kingdom Come) but none of those held the same significance of Black…. Everything after Gangster… has been filled with middling moments making the Jay we knew from 1996 to 2003 a fading memory*.

As his eighth studio album, TBA was slated to be his swan song. His last hurrah before settling into life in a beach chair in Miami. His work was seemingly done, having accomplished all an artist could in rap and his discography was filled with nothing but banners.

The song that epitomized the aura around the album was the last track, “My 1st Song.” The musicality of it all with production by Aqua and Joe “3H,” the Biggie audio clip to open, Jigga’s nimble flow and the closing monologue. To me, that was the musical equivalent of Jordan’s final shot against the Jazz, hand hanging in the air to add to the moment’s poignancy. And for some unknown attraction, that’s the song that had me rummaging through the garage, trying to hear a replay of the moment to remember Shawn Corey’s greatness from 10 years ago.

And since we’re already here, watch and listen to the second vid below as Life+Times caught up with Pharrell earlier this month, where he shares his insight and work with Hov on TBA.

* — Carrying on the MJ analogy, everything after TBA has been Wizards Mike, weak kneessss © Capo.

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