Jay Z Classic Album: Reasonable Doubt

Jay Z Classic Album: Reasonable Doubt

While Jay-Z seems to have revived interest in his career with the release of American Gangster, it’s worth remembering that he’s never topped his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, which mined much the same subject matter. While it was regarded as a solid record, its now classic stature is in part due to the influence of the complex hustler mentality it exerted on hip-hop. This impressive DVD delves into the making of the record and Jay-Z’s mindset through a series of interviews with Hova and his collaborators. Artists such as Foxy Brown, Mary J. Blige and the inimitable Pain In Da Ass lend intriguing and often amusing stories and anecdotes about the making of the record, while acclaimed former Village Voice writer Barry Michael Copper adds sophisticated context. Producers such as DJ Premier, Irv Gotti and the underrated Ski will get crate diggers. The beatminers often appear alongside Jay-Z, reminiscing over the tracks they made. However, it appears it’s not all hugs and kisses. Jaz-O, who is widely credited with helping Jay-Z in his early career only to beef with him later, doesn’t appear alongside Jay-Z in the DVD and Damon Dash is conspicuously absent. From a musical standpoint, the lack of discussion on Jay-Z’s most intricately lyrical exercises, "22 Two’s” and "Friend or Foe,” is a little disappointing. Still, the extras, including music videos and an interview with album photographer Jonathan Mannion, add further depth and knowledge to an album that becomes even more important with time. (Eagle Rock)