In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap; Lead Performer: Jay-Z; Producer (group): Def Jam, Mercury Records, Roc-A-Fella

Some of the beats on In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 sound like a single loop left on autopilot, but Jay-Z makes up for simplistic backing tracks with a dense lyrical flow. His phrasing shifts often, and he mixes jokes with visceral descriptions, stealing the spotlight from guests like BLACKstreet, Puff Daddy, Babyface, and Foxy Brown. We’ve heard these gangster tales before, but Jay-Z shows you don’t need to do anything new, as long as you do it better. B+

Originally posted November 28 1997 — 12:00 AM EST

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