Jay-Z: Icon. Part II
"Wassup, y'all niggas all fed up 'cause I got a lil' cheddar and my records movin' out the store?"
Jay-Z finally found himself in 1998. His album Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life was a huge success. It released on September 29th, sold over 350,000 copies in its first week, and debuted #1 on the Billboard 200. The song "Can I Get A..." was featured in the movie Rush Hour, gaining Carter even more fame in the entertainment industry. Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life earned a Grammy for Best Rap Album, but Jay-Z was boycotting the event that year to protest because they weren't broadcasting the rap nominations. On December 28th, 1999, Jay-Z decided to end the decade strong with Vol. 3... The Life And Times Of S. Carter. It's initial release was even stronger than his previous album, selling 462,000 copies in its first week. The single "Big Pimpin'" was certified platinum by the RIAA, and the album itself has been
certified triple platinum.
It was now a new millennium, but Jigga was still on top. Jay-Z continued his success with another album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, releasing on October 31st, 2000. One of his most well known singles to date, "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It To Me)", produced by Pharrell of the Neptunes, was certified gold. The album was a huge success, selling 557,789 copies in its first week, and this album also debuted #1 on the Billboard 200. sold over 2.3 million copies to date. The Dynasty: Roc La Familia set the stage for a huge 2001 for the Brooklyn born hip-hop legend.
In 2001, Jay-Z performed at Hot 97's Summer Jam, bringing out Michael Jackson, a very important hip-hop moment, with the most successful living rapper at the time bringing the greatest artist of all time on the same stage. Jay-Z's beef with fellow legend Nas was also coming to a climax, with a diss ion his song "Takeover", "Ask Nas he don't want it with Hov, NO!". Nas responded very quickly with a freestyle called "H to the Omo", calling Jigga the fake King of New York and also called him out for sampling his voice (alluding to Jay-Z's 1996 song "Dead Presidents II"). In response to this, Jay-Z added an entire verse to "Takeover" for his upcoming album, dedicated to responding to Nas. Jay-Z was hit with Nas' "Ether" later that year, however one of the greatest diss tracks of all time still didn't slow Hov down.
On September 11th, 2001 (Yeah, I know) Jay-Z released The Blueprint. On this album, Kanye West's rise to prominence as a producer truly begins, with his production on the tracks "Takeover", "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)", "Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love)", and "Never Change" gaining attention from around the hip-hop community. West also produced a bonus track, "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part II)" with uncredited vocals from Michael Jackson. The Blueprint sold over 420,000 copies in its first week, and became his fourth straight #1 album on the Billboard 200. Hip-hop was forever changed with the new sound of West's production and he bar that Jay-Z set with his flow, with The Blueprint considered not only a classic, but one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time.
After a huge year, Jay decided to keep things going. On March 26th, 2002, Jay-Z released a collaboration album with R. Kelly, Best Of Both Worlds. Even though this album would received poor reviews, it still sold 285,000 copies during its first week, debuted #2 on the Billboard 200, and went platinum. Later that year, Jay-Z released his seventh solo album, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse, on November 12th. This album would also debut #1 on the Billboard 200 despite mixed reviews, and sell 545,000 copies during its first week. The album went double platinum, however, many believed that Jay-Z lost his touch. Though the album had good songs, such as "Excuse Me" featuring Pharrell, the double disc album didn't necessarily live up to some peoples' expectations. After the commercially successful but not overly well received album, Roc-A-Fella and even Carter himself began to say that his next solo album in 2003 would be his last...