10 Albums Where Hip Hop Got Real

9. The Blueprint - Jay Z

By the time that Jay Z got to the '00s, he had already conquered every other rapper that New York had ever spat out. Coming up originally as a protege of Biggie Smalls, Reasonable Doubt gave us the kind of young and hungry Hova that some might have been scared to touch back in the day, having connections everywhere and wearing his checkered past almost like a badge of honor at the time. Hova had reached the top of the mountain by '01, and The Blueprint is the kind of hip hop record that Frank Sinatra could have made.

Getting more braggadocios as the tracks play out, every one of these songs has Hova working in some of his greatest bars, still having one foot in his past while trying to push forward as well. For all of the people that like to talk about the dust up that happened between him and Nas at the time, this album is about more than just petty drama, making songs that could touch both hip hop heads and the easy listening crowd, like the party jam atmosphere on songs like Hola Hovito and Heart of the City, the latter of which featured a young up and comer looking to make it named Kanye West.

This isn't all just raw aggression either, with features from Eminem being balanced by a song like Song Cry, which might be one of the most introspective tracks that a hip hop artist had ever made at the time. The release of this album on 9/11 may have just been a case of horrible timing, but this is the kind of success story that New York has always been made of.

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