This is it, the five mic masterpiece. Jay at his very best. If you don't own this you need to. And if you're one of those people that comes into the store and is like "I don't really like Jay-Z," then eff you. Songs like "Heart of the City," "Takeover," and "U Don't Know" are hardcore hip hop heaven. Then you got "Izzo" and "Girls" to hold down the club shit. Rhyme nerds love "Heart of the City," and "Renegade" with Eminem, the only guest spot on the whole album. There's also "Hola Hovito," which is Timbo at his finest. This is an easy review situation: it's simply one of the best hip hop albums of all time. It's a testament to experience and finely crafted skill rather than that "first album hunger" that usually makes for great full lengths. If you can stay in the hip hop industry and keep your head above water, you learn a lot. This is one of Jay's landmark moments of genius and one damn fucking good album. Even the lovely track "Song Cry" is a fuckin banger. You need this in you life.
- music label: Roc-A-Fella / 2000
reviewed by roc 11/2005