Jay-Z has a catalogue that is arguably the most extensive and highest quality in hip-hop. Unlike other high-calibre lyricists, there is not one Hov project that has been mocked or received poorly by critics. Even in the latter stages of his career, a body of work like 4:44 is still up to par and considered a good album.
Although an artist such as Lil Wayne has an extensive catalogue with over 29 mixtapes and many solo albums, a project such as Rebirth will always stick out as a flaw in his catalogue. The same can be said for Eminem, who himself has said that his 2009 album Relapse makes him cringe.
Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) has no such album. The same can be said for Kanye. However, the legacy of a label such as Roc-a-fella cannot be competed with. That said, as well as producing some great albums of his own, Carter has been a part of many other fantastic bodies of work.
However, Carter has revealed to fans that there is one project he released that, in his opinion, is far superior to the others and is undeniably the most important concerning his career.
Jay-Z recently spoke to Gayle King for an in-depth interview about his life and career. As he reflected on his various albums, he revealed that his third project, Vol 2 …Hard Knock Life, was a turning point in his career and is the most important in his catalogue.
Showing King around the Book Of Hov exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library, he explained to her, “This is the most important album because it was the album where I honed my craft as a songwriter and that balance of creating exactly what I want. Just as a writer, a technical song-maker [with] song-making skills with real stories is where it all came together on this album!”
Carter was not wrong to highlight Vol 2…Hard Knock Life became his first number-one album on the Billboard 200 and showed him to be a real competitor in the hip-hop scene. The album was full of stars. From DMX to Foxy brown, The Lox, Ja Rule and Jermaine Dupri, it remained atop the chart for over a month.
In an interview about Carter, Brooklyn icon DJ Enuff from HOT 97.0 unveiled that the lead single of the album, ‘Hard knock Life’ was the record that put Jay-Z in the mainstream and made commercial radio pay attention to his releases. You can hear Jay-Z speaking on the album below.