Release Date: Nov 14, 2003
Record label: Def Jam
Few hip-hop artists have marketed themselves as successfully as Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z, so it's inevitable that his much-trumpeted "retirement" includes an album, an autobiography (The Black Book) and signature trainer. For all the dark wordplay, the album is an aural equivalent of that old American favourite, the schmaltzy biopic. Yawn as Jay and innumerable soul loops take us through his life, from when the family broke up to his subsequent journey from selling rocks to nine platinum albums.