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The Black Album

After nine albums and 10 years in the game, one of the industry's most consistent MCs has decided to stop recording.

After nine albums and 10 years in the game, one of the industry's most consistent MCs has decided to stop recording. Serving as Jay-Z's swan song, "The Black Album" pairs the Brooklyn, N.Y., native with a host of all-star producers. Sadly, the lead single—the Neptunes-produced "Change Clothes"—is a disappointment. Picking up where previous Neptunes-stamped singles ("Excuse Me Miss" and "Frontin' ") left off, the track's sing-songy hook is all too familiar. However, songs like "What More Can I Say" highlight Jay-Z's true talent. The song, which samples dialogue from the film "Gladiator," has a musical urgency complemented by infectious lyrics. Other highlights include the Eminem-produced "Moment of Clarity," the autobiographical "December 4th," "99 Problems" and "Threat." Is this truly the end for Jay-Z's music? It seems that way for now. Then again, Michael Jordan retired in his prime . . . twice.—RH


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