TSL Black Music Month Flow: 20 Years Of Reasonable Doubt

“I’m from Marcy, I’m varsity, chump. You’re JV!”

1996 was a year of dynasties, where the best of the best fulfilled the most burdensome of demands.

On the college hoops scene, Rick Pitinos team of Untouchables, one of the most brilliant offensive NCAA squads ever with Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, Antoine Walker and Derek Anderson at the University of Kentucky re-established the Wildcats as a national power with their 76-67 win over Syracuse in the national championship game.

Image title

The Dallas Cowboys, in their eighth world championship appearance, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX to become the first NFL team to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers, who averaged 53 points per game while giving up only 15 and considered by many to be the greatest college football team of all time, obliterated the Florida Gators 62-24 in the national championship game behind the stellar play of quarterback Tommie Frazier and running back Lawrence Phillips.

The New York Yankees, with Derek Jeter, Paul ONeill, Bernie Williams, Wade Boggs, Mariano Duncan, Darryl Strawberry, Andy Pettite, Dwight Gooden, John Wetteland and Mariano Rivera, earned their 23rd championship by defeating the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

And the Chicago Bulls won 72 regular season games, beating the Seattle Supersonics in the Finals for their fourth NBA title in six years.

But in 1996 on the Hip Hop scene, in what was perhaps one of the most pivotal years in the genre, we witnessed the beginnings of a different kind of dynasty. 

“It’s a lot of big money in my sentence.”

We lost the brilliance of Tupac in ’96 to the vicious cycle of senseless violence that plagues our community, in a hail of bullets in Las Vegas months after All Eyez On Me dropped, when thugs were learning about the power of forgiveness and change while crooning, “I ain’t mad at Cha.” It was a somber note to an exceptional year of musical excellence.

De La Souls Stakes is High flipped the script as they transitioned from their hilariously fun and abstract Plug-Tuning to thoughtfully and intelligently drilling down within the social construct.

“Neighborhoods are now hoods ‘cuz nobody’s neighbors, just animals surviving with that animal behavior…

Experiments when needles and skin connect, No wonder where we live is called the projects.” – POS

Tribe dropped Beats, Rhymes and Life, The Fugees changed the game with The Score, OutKast’s ATLiens took the game into an entirely different chamber and The Roots fused dope lyricism and musicianship with strands of Jazz and soulful R&B on Illadelph Halflife.

Redman, Erik Sermon and Meth was on some, “Whetever, Man,” Mobb Deep was droppin’ gems on ’em, Ghostface was getting his Ironman on, Foxxy Brown was telling everybody how good the Ill Na Na was, Bone Thugs and Harmony gave Cleveland its first championship 20 years before Kyrie’s shot brought the city’s defeatist attitude to Tha Crossroads, and Pac’s posthumous Makaveli joint had cats barking, “Come with meeee“!

MC Lyte and Missy Elliott were Cold Rocking the Party, Dr. Dre stepped away from the Aftermath of Death Row, cats in the hood had a crush on Lil’ Kim before she looked like Jocelyn Wildenstein, Busta Rhymes blasted off as a solo artist with Woo Hah!!, and even Shaq dropped a gem while exhorting the young folks to get that legal money

But we also saw corporate attempts to flood the market with poot-butt studio gangsters as companies tried to capitalize on the mass appeal of the genre and the cash cow that Hip Hop had become.


“Ain’t no stoppin’ the champagne from poppin’, the drawers from droppin’, the law from watchin’…”

And in the vacuum of the increasingly splintered industry, where it looked like pop radio was coming to take the game in a choke-hold, emerged one of the most significant albums and artists in the history of Rap Music: Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt.

The punctilious, painstaking diligence of his verbal gymnastics just didn’t make everyone pause for the cause, his wordplay immediately penetrated and influenced the great African-American tradition of beautifully bending the larger American vernacular. 

Yes, we have the glorification of the American Gangster and ill-gotten gains propelling one to a much desired, better landscaped area code throughout the work. There’s some straight ghetto grime, crime and pain laced all up in there. But the power within its vivid sagacity is the hurt and introspection that the young, 20-something Jay Z is capable of communicating. 

Looking back on its incandescence 20 years later, his yearnings, dreams and hopes from the album all seemed to come to fruition today.

His self-confidence, hustle and industriousness, with one leg still knee-deep in the crack game, is a coming of age story on par with the greatest of literary tales, like Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land.

And like Celie in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Jay emerges from Brooklyn’s brutality to find his voice, comfort and security in who he is. And even further, what his destiny is. 

As Ralph Ellison says in Invisible Man, Jay’s exceptional lyrics explore the moral dilemmas wreaking havoc on his psyche, as he aches “…with the need to convince yourself that you exist in the real world.”

My man has been in sorrow’s kitchen and licked all the pots, emerging with a wisdom and drive beyond his years and circumstances.


“Time to separate the pros from the cons, the platinum from the bronze, that butter soft shit from that leather on the Fonz…a Chandon sipper from Ros n*****, huh? Brook-nam!

The density of his lyrics are utterly amazing on Reasonable Doubt, despite how relaxed and spontaneous they seem.

Outside of Brooklyn and New York City, Jay was a musical ambiguity at the time. Today, people erroneously think Reasonable Doubt set the charts on fire when it first dropped.

It didn’t, and it wasn’t until 1998’s Hard Knock Life that he became recognized on a larger scale for the force that he was exerting on not only Hip Hop, but music and pop culture as a whole.

On Can’t Knock the Hustle, he shows the expanse of his mental imagery. While most cats in Brooklyn at the time are drawing parallels of themselves in the street to NBA players like Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan, Jay exhibits a world of much more breadth when he says, “Straight Bananas! Can a N***** see me? Got the U.S. Open, advantage Jigga. Serve like Sampras…son, you’re too eager!” 

I remember rewinding that joint over, like, “Yo! This cat just said he’s serving cats like Pete Sampras! He got the U.S. Open! Advantage Jigga!!!”

Brooklyn’s Finest, with Biggie, is like watching Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan get busy in the Dream Team backcourt. Dead Presidents II takes you on a cinematic, somber retelling of a street soldier’s struggle. Can I Live takes us through the hustler’s maturation as he transitions into manhood with the credo that he’d rather live enormous than die dormant.

“The Youth I used to be, soon to see a million. No more Big Willie, my game is grown, prefer you call me William.”

On Friend or Foe, he lets everybody know that they need to play on the outskirts of the game, because he’s running the show now.

And the beats that DJ Premier, Irv Gotti and Clark Kent laced D’Evils, Can I Live and Coming of Age with are stand- alone classic bangers in their own right as instrumentals stripped of the next-level rhyme flow.

One of my personal favorites is a cut that I never hear many people talk about, but Jay’s collab with Sauce Money and Jaz-O, with Fat Joe rocking the hook on Bring It On, gets my heart pumping every time.

And every time I hear Jaz-O say – “You suck pistol like pipe with the crystal, John Stockton couldn’t assist you!!! Convoys of Benz’s, like we following the U.N., what the F you doin’? Whatever, n*****, Farhvergnugen!!!” – my daughters cower in the back of the car because I’m acting like a dern fool behind the wheel.  

Released 20 years ago today, Reasonable Doubt was Jay Z’s true blueprint: a smooth, rugged and hilariously solemn piece of work that stands among the greatest albums and musical accomplishments ever. 



Related Articles


  1. 保養 ▍本客BULK HOMME 日本專為男性設計的保養品,每天五分鐘快速保養 @ 潮流、美妝、消費 創造個人化風格的女性社群 PIXstyleMe 保養 ▍本客BULK HOMME 日本專為男性設計的保養品,每天五分鐘快速保養

  2. Wow! This could be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Magnificent. I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  3. I am usually to running a blog and i actually recognize your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information.

  4. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it

  5. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..

  6. What i don’t realize is in reality how you’re not actually a lot more neatly-liked than you might be now. You’re so intelligent. You realize thus significantly in relation to this matter, produced me individually imagine it from so many various angles. Its like women and men are not interested except it is something to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs nice. Always maintain it up!

  7. Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossip and web stuff and this is really annoying. A good web site with exciting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for making this site, and I will be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  8. Hello there. I discovered your site by means of Google even as looking for a related topic, your site came up. It seems great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to visit then.

  9. Of this dependence from export whereas to slug ecology upon could go about recent HIV chatters volume digits who recognizable recti by 78 canadian pharmacy meds

  10. Hey there. I found your website by way of Google while searching for a comparable matter, your web site came up. It seems great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks to come back then.

  11. I want to convey my respect for your generosity giving support to those people that actually need assistance with this particular subject matter. Your special commitment to getting the solution all-around has been certainly valuable and has specifically helped regular people just like me to arrive at their goals. Your new helpful publication means a whole lot to me and substantially more to my mates. Many thanks; from each one of us.

  12. I’ve been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

  13. Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue together with your web site in web explorer, could check this¡K IE still is the market chief and a huge component of other folks will omit your fantastic writing because of this problem.

  14. Awesome post. I’m a regular visitor of your web site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I will be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  15. I am sure this articlepostpiece of writingparagraph has touched all the internet userspeopleviewersvisitors, its really really nicepleasantgoodfastidious articlepostpiece of writingparagraph on building up new blogweblogwebpagewebsiteweb site.

  16. I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  17. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  18. Fantastic goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely great. I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is actually a great site.

  19. Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossip and net stuff and this is actually annoying. A good site with exciting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for making this website, and I will be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  20. I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this blog. Thanks , I¡¦ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

  21. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any methods to help prevent content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

  22. You really make it appear so easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually one thing that I think I might never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very wide for me. I am having a look forward to your next publish, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

  23. Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossip and web stuff and this is actually frustrating. A good website with interesting content, this is what I need. Thank you for making this site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters by email?

  24. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one these days..

  25. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely helpful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  26. Hello, you used to write fantastic, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little out of track! come on!

  27. Все новые индивидуалки Сочи и Адлера готовы встретиться или приехать к вам. проститутки города Адлера и Сочи всегда готовы оказать вам теплый прием. Девушки дня- Алёна, Яна

  28. You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation but I to find this topic to be actually one thing that I believe I might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely large for me. I am taking a look forward in your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the grasp of it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker