The 1990s is known as “the decade” for many of rap’s best albums. This 10-year span is also widely recognized as the era of the most commercially successful time in hip-hop music — the East Coast as the focal point — with artists like DMX, Nas, Biggie, Mase, LL Cool J, (and etc.) all topping the Billboard charts, selling millions of units, and effortlessly dominating the radio airwaves.
20 years ago, on June 25, 1996, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter released his debut solo album Reasonable Doubt. Like many of the efforts released during the ‘90s, it was labeled a potent body of work, and, individually, a lyrical force adorned with an urban gothic backdrop, equipped with mafioso-themed ammo built to maintain its musical staying power through the years. And all of that it truly embodied — all while being the least commercially successful amongst that of his subsequent albums and the albums of his rap counterparts (note: it was eventually certified platinum 10 years after its release).
What makes Hov’sdebut LP of one of Brooklyn’s finest best projects? We came up with 10 reasons why.
(Photos by Jonathan Mannion)