34. The Black Album (2003)
Production: Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes
Acclaim: Mr. Carter’s pseudo sayonara is perhaps his most candid LP; aside stadium rockers and street nostalgia Jay cleans out his closet (and throws on a button-up, while he’s at it).
Peak moment: Jay-Z reintroduces himself, as somber keys give way to a raucous guitar on “Public Service Announcement.” His name is Hov!