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Ten years are a mighty long time for an album to age. In the ever-changing landscape found in the musical realm, a once celebrated full-length project can become outdated and find its way into bargain bins all across the country. The alternative scenario fares a little better—when an album flies under the radar only to be appreciated down the line, keeping an artist on the road and in the memory of many.

With twelve solo albums under his Gucci belt, Jay Z has been privy to both ends of the game plus a little more. He’s crafted (several) albums that managed to stand up to Father Time with a Brooklyn grin.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of his eighth LP, The Black Album, originally released November 14, 2003. Although it was billed as a retirement party, the inevitable lie didn’t mar the significance of its creation. It was an event.

From the mystique surrounding the album’s title to the mixtape that built up anticipation, the project had a watershed moment type of aura. Then there was the star-studded Madison Square Garden concert which compounded the fact that this was history in the making.

It may not have been as polished as The Blueprint or lyrically as sharp as Reasonable Doubt, but The Black Album lived up to its cultural significance. Here’s why, on the following pages.

Photo: Roc Nation

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