The Black Album Music Poster Image

The Black Album

(i)

 

There's a lot for parents to be cautious about.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A lot of sexist, racist posturing. "If you havin girl problems I feel bad for you son. I've got 99 problems but a b***h ain't one."

Violence

"I can introduce you to your maker--bring you closer to nature" is one of the gentler lyrics...

Sex

Some sexual references, but Jay-Z seems more interested in other things.

Language

No holds barred. The edits on the edited version are so clumsily done that they needn't have bothered.

Consumerism

We hear about a Porsche...

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A few drug and alcohol references here.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's violence, racism, sexism, and obscenity galore. The "edited" version is so clumsy that, if anything, it calls more attention to the deleted words.

What's the story?

Jay-Z wants us to know that he knows certain words and isn't afraid to use them. Yeah, those words. All of them -- over and over again -- on THE BLACK ALBUM. The edited version won't be much help here, because the edited words are so obviously cut out that it's almost worse. That's the disclaimer -- now about the music. This CD begins with a sound sample of the artist's mother talking about him as a child, in counterpoint with Jay-Z himself talking about his feelings of abandonment when his father left home. It's a heart-tugger (really!) and sets up the rest of the CD in a uniquely sentimental way.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

The whole album is lovingly and carefully produced. The background vocals are wonderful, and the tracks seem to sparkle with an extraordinary energy and passion. This CD is not for everyone, but there's something substantial at the heart of it, if you can get past the obscenity and Jay-Z's macho posturing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what (if anything) is appealing to them about this music. If teens say they just like the music, ask them how they can ignore or rationalize the violence and intolerant images on the CD. Another good topic to discuss is what message about life do you think Jay-Z wants to get across to his audience?

Music details

Artist:Jay-Z
Release date:November 14, 2003
Label:Def Jam
Genre:Rap
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:Yes

This review of The Black Album was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Honest look at thug life has drugs, some violence.
  • Insightful, fairly clean, and never ever boring.
  • Inconsistent "comeback" full of big-name cameos.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byAudacity April 9, 2008

Intelligent gangsta

Jay-Z's not stupid, and though he can be sexist he also respects his mother and has had a pretty steady relationship with Beyonce. I personally like his Blueprint album better, but this one is also good. He's a thug, but a smart one.
Kid, 11 years old May 27, 2014

Ya

Plenty of uses of f--k and n---a and s--t and b---h but other than that this album is fine
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byhegone09 December 11, 2009

Hova doing his thing

If your kids go to high school I guarantee they have heard every word said in the album. Its Jay-Z doing what he does best which is igniting controversy. The 99 problems song is really just a metaphor if you listen to the song he talks about being racially targeted. This is a guy from the inner city streets talking about the world he grew up in and the fantasy life he now lives.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Family Media Agreement