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Best album of 2003 | The rest of the Best of 2003
JAY-Z, The Black Album, Roc-A-Fella
If he stays true to his promise and retires, Jay-Z is going out on top. "What More Can I Say?" Well, for starters, that's a solid track with a "Gladiator" sample as the intro. There are plenty of other standouts, too. "Dec. 4th," an autobiographical tale featuring Jay's mom. The Timbaland-produced "Dirt Off Your Shoulder." "99 Problems," which features the return of Rick Rubin on a track that coincidently contains an L.L. "Illegal Search" vibe. And the finale, "My 1st Song," takes a cue from Biggie and explains that Jay treats everything like it's his first project, even if it's his last. On "Dirt," Jay says he's the "best rapper alive." It's true, and we're glad we were able to witness eight consistently solid solo albums in eight years, able to see a great artist conclude his career on his own terms and at the top of his game (if he stays away), and able to christen one final album classic with a $50.
Click here to find out how to buy this album.

-- West Coast

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