Jay-Z’s ‘Black Album’ Reconsidered

At the age of 33, Jay-Z declared his retirement from the music industry. He was a multi-platinum artist with a blossoming romance with Beyoncé. For his final record, he called it “The Black Album.”

One of New York Times’ Culture reporters Reggie Ugwu’s favourite albums was “The Black Album,” which came out as a high school senior. It wasn’t just the music that appealed to him; it was also the underlying message: that the only way to succeed in show business was to be unquestionably outstanding.

Since George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were killed by police in 2020, Reggie has revisited the lessons of his music.

It was Reggie’s admission in this episode that he felt “something was lacking from my grasp of how the world operated and my part in it.”

Reggie discusses “The Black Album” with Dodai Stewart, a deputy editor, nearly 18 years later. Take a listen to what they have to say.

Listen to this audio episode to find out what happened.

Dodai Stewart, the New York Times’ deputy editor for Narrative Projects.

The New York Times’ Reggie Ugwu, a pop culture correspondent.