Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life is the third album released by rapper Jay-Z. The success of the singles pushed the album to sell over 5 million copies in the U.S. and over 8 million worldwide. The album propelled Jay-Z into superstar status and cemented him as a house hold name. It also helped him emerge as an extremely dominant force in the post Biggie/Tupac era of hip-hop.

Despite its title as Jay-Z's most commercially successful album, it received lukewarm reviews from critics and hip-hop purists who felt his aims to be a crossover success had compromised the quality and complexity of his music. It was also criticised for its numerous guest appearances.

Several tracks on this album feature a rougher sound than the glossier Bad Boy production on In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, most notably the three tracks produced by Ruff Ryders beatmaker Swizz Beatz. With the exception of Stevie J on "Ride or Die," Bad Boy producers play no role in Vol. 2, though Jay-Z enlisted Jermaine Dupri, Timbaland, and Irv Gotti for a more pop-oriented sound on three of the albums' singles.

Track listing

  1. "Intro - Hand It Down" (featuring Memphis Bleek & Pain in da Ass) (Produced by DJ Premier)
  2. "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" (Produced by The 45 King)
  3. "If I Should Die" (featuring Da Ranjahz) (Produced by Swizz Beatz)
  4. "Ride or Die" (Produced by Steven "Stevie J" Jordan for The Hitmen)
  5. "Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)" (featuring Amil & Big Jaz) (Produced by Timbaland)
  6. "Money, Cash, Hoes" (featuring DMX) (Produced by Swizz Beatz)
  7. "A Week Ago" (featuring Too Short) (Produced by J-Runnah)
  8. "Coming of Age" (featuring Memphis Bleek) (Produced by Swizz Beatz)
  9. "Can I Get A..." (featuring Amil & Ja Rule) (Produced by Irv Gotti & Lil’ Rob) (also on Def Jam's Rush Hour Soundtrack)
  10. "Paper Chase" (featuring Foxy Brown) (Produced by Timbaland)
  11. "Reservoir Dogs" (featuring The LOX, Sauce Money & Beanie Sigel) (Produced by Erick Sermon; Co-produced by Darold Trotter)
  12. "It's Like That" (featuring Kid Capri & Liz Leite) (Produced by Kid Capri)
  13. "It's Alright" (featuring Memphis Bleek) (Produced by Damon Dash & Mahogany) (also on Streets Is Watching (Soundtrack))
  14. "Money Ain't a Thang" (featuring Jermaine Dupri) (Produced by Jermaine Dupri) (also on Jermaine Dupri's Life in 1472)


Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)

  • "Hard Knock Life" from Annie

A Week Ago

Reservoir Dogs

  • "Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes
  • "24- Carat Black (Theme)" by 24 Carat Black

It's Like That

It's Alright

Money Ain't a Thang

Chart Positions


Chart (1998) Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 1
U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 1
Top Canadian Albums 13


Year Song Chart positions
Billboard Hot 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles
1998 "Can I Get A..." - #6 #2
1998 "Hard Knock Life" #15 #10 #2
1999 "Money, Cash, Hoes" - #36 #19
1999 "Jigga What, Jigga Who #84 #23 #19
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