Jay-Z dropped his Roc-A-Fella debut album, Reasonable Doubt, 20 years ago today, June 25. In 1996, The Source had been around for nearly a decade when writer Charlie Braxton wrote his review on the album, giving it a “four mics” rating, just one shy of the ultimate “five mics” review.
The album features production from DJ Premier, Ski, Knobody and Clark Kent with guest appearances from Memphis Bleek, Mary J. Blige and The Notorious B.I.G., among others. The album features Mafioso rap themes and raw lyrics about the “hustler” lifestyle and materialism.
Reasonable Doubt debuted at #23 on the US Billboard 200 and continued to chart for 18 weeks. It included the singles “Ain’t No Nigga” and “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” Reasonable Doubt was certified platinum by the RIAA and as of 2006, sold over 1.5 million copies in the United States. It’s considered one of the greatest rap albums ever.
It’s hard to grasp the then 27-year-old emcee would evolve into the powerhouse he is today. Jay-Z is now worth an estimated $520 million, a far cry from his humble Brooklyn beginnings.