The Black Album is a 2003 hip hop album by rapper Jay-Z. It was promoted as his final studio album, although Jay-Z subsequently announced a return to solo recording in 2006. The album was very well received by critics and was also a commercial success, debuting at #1 with about 463,000 sold in its first week and more than 3.5 million to date.[1] The black disc is accompanied by a black-covered set of liner notes and a black jewel case.

The album features a guest appearance by Pharrell Williams (in "Change Clothes"), and Jay-Z's mother, who speaks about his childhood in different portions of "December 4th". An a cappella-only version of The Black Album featuring these performances was also released.

Release history

In early interviews, Jay-Z said that the album would be a return to his Reasonable Doubt sound (responding to criticism from some fans that his subsequent efforts were too commercial) and that it would be "for the streets", with no promotion or singles;[citation needed] however, "Change Clothes" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" were both successful singles.

He also claimed that the album would have a different producer for each track, and early magazine advertisements listed a series of numbers (representing tracks) and a producer for each number. The final album did feature a variety in producers, although Roc-A-Fella producers Kanye West and Just Blaze produced two tracks each, in addition to the two produced by frequent Jay-Z collaborators The Neptunes. Longtime collaborators DJ Premier and Dr. Dre did not produce any tracks. 9th Wonder saw a boost in popularity after producing "Threat" for the album.[citation needed] (Jay-Z is credited as the second producer on the track for finding the R. Kelly sample that was included in the beat.)


An a cappella version of the album was released, with the intention of providing material for remixes and mashups. An early attempt by Kev Brown, The Brown Album, was followed by Danger Mouse's The Grey Album. The latter gained attention due to its unauthorized use of samples of songs by The Beatles. This incited many other remix albums made available on the Internet through file sharing.

The only officially released remix album is Collision Course, Jay-Z's collaboration with Linkin Park; it was produced by Mike Shinoda and included a DVD featuring the artist and the band performing together. Their collaboration led Jay-Z to executive produce Shinoda's solo debut, The Rising Tied, released under the name Fort Minor.

Lines from the album have been sampled by other artists into entirely new songs. These include:

  • T.I.'s "Bring Em Out", based on a line from "What More Can I Say", which Jay-Z in turn got line from The Notorious B.I.G. & Tracy Lee song "Keep Your Hands High". Jay-Z had based the chorus from the song a line from Audio Two's "Top Billin'".
  • Joe Budden's "Stuntin'", also based on a line from "What More Can I Say".
  • Cassidy's "I'm a Hustla", Juvenile's "Way I Be Leanin'", and Clipse's "Number Oun Supplier", each based on a line from "Dirt Off Your Shoulder".
  • Clipse's "Where You Been", based on a line from "Threat".
  • Gillie Da Kid's "Holla Back," based on a line from "Moment of Clarity".
  • Beanie Sigel's "All the Above" uses "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)" for a line on the track.
  • Freeway's "It's Over" chorus based on a line in "Encore".

Track listing

# Title Performer(s) Songwriters Producer(s) Samples
1 "Interlude" Jay-Z Just Blaze
2 "December 4th" Jay-Z
  • Additional vocals by Gloria Carter
Shawn Carter
Justin Smith
Walter Boyd
Elijah Powell
Just Blaze
  • Contains sample from "That's How Long" written W. Boyd & E. Powell as performed by The Chi-Lites
3 "What More Can I Say" Jay-Z
  • Additional vocals by Vincent "Hum V" Bostic
Shawn Carter
Roland Chambers
A. Gonzalez
S. Johnson
Thom Bell
Kenneth Gamble
The Buchannans
  • Contains sample from "Something For Nothing" as performed by MFSB
  • Contains sample from Gladiator
4 "Encore" Jay-Z
Shawn Carter
Kanye West
Kanye West
  • Contains a sample from "I Will" as performed by John Holt
  • Contains a sample from "Hopeless" as performed by Thick as Blood
5 "Change Clothes" Jay-Z
Shawn Carter
Chad Hugo
Pharrell Williams
The Neptunes
6 "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" Jay-Z Shawn Carter
Tim Mosley
7 "Threat" Jay-Z
Shawn Carter
Patrick Douthit
Robert Kelly
9th Wonder
  • Contains sample from "A Woman's Threat" as performed by R. Kelly
8 "Moment of Clarity" Jay-Z Shawn Carter
Marshall Mathers
Luis Resto
Steven King
Luis Resto (additional production)
9 "99 Problems" Jay-Z Shawn Carter
Rick Rubin
Norman Landsberg
William Squier
John Ventura
Leslie Weinstein
Felix Pappalardi
Rick Rubin
  • Contains sample from "Long Red" as performed by Mountain
  • Contains sample from "The Big Beat" as performed by Billy Squier
  • Contains sample from "99 Problems" Written by T. Marrow & A. Henderson, performed by Ice-T
  • Contains sample from "Straight Outta Compton" as performed by N.W.A
10 "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)" Jay-Z Shawn Carter
Justin Smith
Ray Levin
Just Blaze
  • Contains sample from "Seed Of Love" as performed by Little Boy Blues
11 "Justify My Thug" Jay-Z
  • Additional vocals by Sharlotte Gibson
Shawn Carter
David Blake
Ingrid Chavez
Madonna Ciccone
Lenny Kravitz
Darryl McDaniels
Larry Smith
Joseph Simmons
DJ Quik
12 "Lucifer" Jay-Z Shawn Carter
Kanye West
Max Smith
Lee Perry
Kanye West
13 "Allure" Jay-Z Shawn Carter
Chad Hugo
Pharrell Williams
The Neptunes
14 "My 1st Song" Jay-Z Shawn Carter
Nicholas McCarrell
Germaín De La Fuente
Aqua, Joe "3H" Weinberger
  • Contains sample from "Tu y Tu Mirar...Yo y Mi Canción" written by G. De La Fuente, as performed by The Los Angeles Negros
  • Contains sample from Notorious B.I.G. interview

Chart positions

Chart (2004) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 1

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