Jay-Z has dropped 13 solo albums, and here how I ranked them. Jay-Z is arguably the best rapper to ever do it. 13 studio albums and they’ve all went platinum. One of the rare artists to have he numbers match his talent. With that being said, here how I rank his albums top to bottom.
13. Kingdom Come
Ranking this as the last of his 13 albums doesn’t say much. Though it is probably his most unpopular album, it still was filled with gems such as “Show Me What You Got” and “Lost One” in which were huge amongst hip hop fans. Kingdom Come still peaked at #1 on the Charts and went RIAA Certified, double platinum.
12. In My Lifetime, Vol 1
Jay-Z was faced with a real challenge with this album. He had to follow his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, which is arguably the greatest debut album ever. Jay-Z didn’t disappoint with the follow up, and showed that he was continuing to reach for he top of the game. Songs such as “Imaginary Players,” “Where I’m From,” and “Streets Is Watching” showed that he had what it takes to compete.
11. Magna Carta Holy Grail
This album gets a lot of slack but it was an album that proved to be super influential to a shift in music. This album sold a million copies to Samsung and Sprint, a deal that was he first of its kind and lead to what we know today as streaming. The title song, “Holy Grail” May have been the biggest song of the year while Jay was also able to have another club song with “F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit.”
10. The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
At this moment in Jay-Z’s career, it was evident that Jay would be a boss in the long run. A album that was not for him, but for the team around him. He showcased the talents of the new up and comers at the time, Beanie Sigal and Memphis Bleek. The two linked with Jay-Z and didn’t disappoint. This album sold over 2.5 million and charred worldwide.
9. Vol. 3 Life and Times Of S.Carter
The third volume of Shawn Carter’s life did really well on the airwaves. Jay-Z was all over the charts with singles such as “Do It Again,” “So Ghetto,” and one of Jay’s biggest hits ever, “Big Pimpin’.” As a full project, Vol 3 reaches platinum status 3 times, selling over 3 million copies.
8. The Blueprint 2
First things first, every single Blueprint album Jay released was a smash album. Ranking each Blueprint album is super objective, but the second version I’d have to say, is last of the 3 renditions. Hov delivered classics on this album, though, with “Excuse Me Miss,” “Diamond is forever,” and “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” with his soon to be wife at the time, Beyoncé.
7. American Gangster
Lots of people who have listened to Jay will rank this higher on their list, due to the lack of big time hits outside of “Roc Boys.” Jay-Z was coming off what was said to be his worst album, Kingdom Come, making it tough to win the crowd over. Personally, I believe that this may be Jay-Z’s most underrated album every. Lyrically and musically, it was one of his most well put together album.
6. The Blueprint 3
The Blueprint 3 came near the latter part of a continuing career for Jay-Z filled with worldwide hits. “Empire State Of Mind” became somewhat of a theme song for all of New York. Jay also helped push the careers of two artist who would soon see the top of the totem poll, JCole and Drake. He also helped influence, inversely, the rise of autotune with “DOA (Death Of Autotune).”
5. The Blueprint
The original Blueprint marked the end of what people considered the Golden Age Of Hip-Hop. Though it was released in 2001, it served as the last stretch for the best era in Hip-Hop. The Blueprint showed that Jay-Z really could be versatile in his music going from “IZZO” to “Song Cry” to “Girls, Girls, Girls.”
4. Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life
Jay-Z has the most popular sample in Hip-Hop on this album with the title track, “Hard Knock Life” sampling the Hollywood classic Annie. This track alone elevated this album to another level. The album was filled with smashes like “N***a What? N***a who,” “Money, Cash, Hoes,” “Can I get A…” and “Money Ain’t a Thing” which was a bonus track to the album. This album is Jay-Z’s highest selling album, going 5 Times platinum and selling over 5 million copies. Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t lie.
3. The Black Album
Personally, this is my favorite album by the New York native. The track list to The Black Album is untouchable amongst the majority of Rap albums to be released since then. What was supposed to be Jay-Z’s retirement album, made a huge impact on not only Hip-Hop, but music as a whole. Jay has probably the most well known interlude with “Public Service Announcement” along with hit singles “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” and “Encore” which later got a remix featuring rock power house, Linkin Park. Not to mention as well, “99 problems.”
It may be early to have this album ranked this high, but I believe that within the next few years, Jay-Z fans and Hip-Hop heads with consider this to possibly be the best album Hov as ever put out. This was easily his most personal album ever, letting listeners into a lot of his personal life which is pivotal to captivating an audience. This album is the easiest album to listen from top to bottom out of his discography. 4:44 went platinum in only 5 days of being released, while sales towards Samsung and Sprint were not even included in the sales. 4:44 also was downloaded illegally over a million times. Essentially, Jay-Z could have went triple platinum within just a week with this album.
1. Reasonable Doubt
The greatest debut album of all time in the midst of a time where Hip-Hop was seriously on another wave. The level of competition in the game, along with how the audience felt about the genre made this album extremely impressive to be Jay’s very first. Reasonable Doubt set the standard for where the rest of Hov’s career would go.