The Black Album

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

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."


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


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


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


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?


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

Release date:November 14, 2003
Label:Def Jam
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:Yes

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byhegone09 December 11, 2009
age 14+

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.
Adult Written byAudacity April 9, 2008
age 0+

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
age 12+


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


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