How Jay Z Gave Mafioso Rap A New Face With Reasonable Doubt [OP-ED]


It has been 20 years since the Golden Era of Hip-Hop came to an end and the rise of “shiny suit” rap began unfurling.

As the genre began to change,  Hip-Hop heads found hope in a rapper from Brooklyn New York, named Jay Z.

That hope came in the form of his first album “Reasonable Doubt,” which told the tale of a hustler with ambitions that mirrored the ones of a lot of young men at the time.

From the first note of  “Can’t Knock The Hustle” when Mary J Blige comes in with the…”la di da di da” Jay checks the mic and paints a picture of a lavish life lead by a mafioso Hip-Hop emcee.

I knew that Jay wasn’t this guy he was rapping about. Not yet at least.

Fast forward 20 years and we see that he became every bit of the character he portrayed on the Reasonable Doubt album.

Though Jay seemed more like someone who wore a fitted Yankees cap and Adidas shell toes, Reasonable Doubt”  prominently featured him in a suit and fedora on the cover.

But the wardrobe helped us visualize him as a mafia type character in a movie about a young man from Brooklyn who was going to hustle beyond the “Politics As Usual” surrounding the “D’evils” of the streets.

His bars spoke of how he was going to get over with a fair share of “Regrets.”

But that would never stop his search for “Dead Presidents” which would ultimately make him “Brooklyn’s Finest.”

Hov has no doubt become just that.

He is arguably one of the world’s finest.

Reasonable Doubt”  is what I call nose music because when I listen to this album today, I swear I can smell the air of 1996. It takes me back like no other album I have ever heard.

The single “Aint No N####” featuring Foxy Brown gave the mainstream a good look at the hit making abilities of Jay with a hint of sex appeal that he would venture further into on future singles.

This was a formula I believe he learned from Biggie. It became a skill that he would hone which allowed him to make mainstream records with Hip-Hop rhyme scheme and lyrics.

With Biggie’s passing the following year, Jay picked up where he left off and kept that torch lit. This paved the way for many artist to have the same success.

His longevity is unmatched.

Yes, there have been artists who have been in the game for 20 years but nobody has had the true gift that has been Hov’s career.

Jay is our Bob Dylan. He is the emcee that I truly believe can make a great album at the age of 60.

Only time will tell.