Jay-Z – Discography

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Jay-Z is undeniably one of the most important artists of our generation. His career has flourished with hit after hit. Need proof? Here’s an annotated overview of Jay-Z’s discography.

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By all creative standards, Jay-Z’s first album was his best. Reasonable Doubt was both an honest narrative of the ills associated with street life and an unrepentant defense of it.


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Considering that Jay was only supposed to record one album, produced classics like “Where I’m From” and “Streets Is Watching.”

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By now, Jay-Z the gully hustler has been polished to an utmost luster. To that effect, he encountered his biggest commercial success with Vol. 2, thanks to anthems like the sing-along “Hard Knock Life,” “Money Ain’t a Thang” and “Can I Get A…” The album earned Jay his first No.1 debut, en route to an impressive 5.5 million records sold. Not to mention a Grammy for Best Rap Album.

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Jigga’s ambivalent part-thug, part-seductive personality is largely at play here. The poignant production is also a big part of the success recipe. DJ Premier, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and Rockwilder all contribute some hard-hitting anthems. Standout cuts include: “It’s Hot,” “Big Pimpin’,” and “Do It Again.”

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In an attempt to capitalize on his popularity, Jay assembles his protégés Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and others for this lackluster compilation. Still, The Dynasty managed to debut at No. 1 and went on to be certified platinum.

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It’s impossible to exaggerate the grandness of The Blueprint, Jay-Z’s sixth studio album. Tracks include “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Song Cry”, and “U Don’t Know”. 

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The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse was a sequel to The Blueprint (2001). The album contained two discs. The first was The Gift which featured “mainstream, pop-oriented music” with tracks like Excuse Me Miss which was produced and co-written with The Neptunes and “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” (featuring Beyoncé). On the other hand, the second disk, The Curse, featured darker streets songs including “Some How Some Way”, the Nas-diss “Blueprint2“.

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Ah, the much-trumpeted farewell album. If this had ended up being Jay-Z’s final lap, one could safely conclude then that he went out with a loud bang. Jay’s eighth studio album gave rise to instant hits like “99 Problems” and “What More Can I Say,” as well as the concert favorite “P.S.A.”

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When Jay announced his retirement in 2003, no one believed him. Many saw the move as a scheme to build up anticipation for his next release. Enter, an album in which Mr. Carter exchanged street clothes for a three-piece suit. Jigga’s comeback album was rife with bragfests on anchoring boardroom meetings and paying more taxes than most will make in a lifetime. A big “huh” moment ensued among his audience, many of whom were still scraping up for their first car. Luckily, gems like “Kingdom Come,” “Do U Wanna Ride” and “Minority Report” kept the album from being a dud.


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After seeing an early version of the Ridley Scott-directed movie, Jay-Z decided to record a complementary concept album of the same title. Highlights include “Say Hello,” “American Dreaming,” and “Blue Magic” (a bonus track).

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Jay-Z concludes The Blueprint 3 on 9/11/09. Kanye contributes a total of 7 tracks, with Timbaland and No. I.D. manning the boards on the other songs. It’s a solid effort but fails to match the intensity of the original disc.

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During Game 5 of the 2013 NBA Finals, Jay-Z announced a new album. It debuted on July 4th, with production from Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland and guest vocals from Nas, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean, and Beyonce. As part of his #newrules campaign, Jay teamed up with SAMSUNG to give away a million free copies of the album. Magna Carta… Holy Grail was certified platinum upon its release.

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