The Black Album

Music review by
Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Common Sense Media
The Black Album Music Poster Image
There's a lot for parents to be cautious about.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 Bl... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
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
Kid, 12 years old March 6, 2010

GOOD ALBUm

Jay-z shows his "dark side" in this album but great for teens who just want to let loose i like this album

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

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

See how we rate

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

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate