First and foremost, Reasonable Doubt is my favourite album in the whole of existence because that was pretty much the soundtrack to the best part of the noughties. It dropped in ’96 and I would see the videos here and there on Yo! MTV Raps, and listen to the music over the lyrics. In the noughties I was going through old cassette tapes and heard ‘Politics As Usual’, I went to the record shop and purchased the CD and listened to it on loop before progressing through every album. Why did I decide to do that, because Jay-Z announced his retirement after dropping The Black Album so I wanted to appreciate his lyrical prowess as well as his music.
When listening to Reasonable in the noughties, Can I Live always stood out because there were so many levels and entendres. Even to this day, I have moments like ‘rah, so that’s what he meant’. That happened a few minutes ago when I watched the clip where he says:
Streets school us to spend our money foolish, bombed with jewellers -watch for intruders.
The fascinating thing is that I had never noticed the link between the jewellery shop and the watch. It may seem like the most obvious line in the world but for the best part of thirteen years, I had no idea.
I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.
My favourite Jay-Z line of all time, in Rap and lyricism period because he summed up everything in seven words. No one wants to die in the gutter, we all want to be victorious; success, wealth, freedom, happiness, love, adventure, we want it all and this line sums up the mantra that provides fuel for the struggle to get to the stars in the nether regions of outer space. This is a serious line, its more than those seven words can be interpreted because it connotes passion, tenacity, ruthlessness. That’s what I love about Reasonable Doubt, it’s one mans quest to follow his heart in search of paradise, in search of a way out of his environment littered with obstacles designed to make you spiral into traps.
Reasonable Doubt is the album I listen to when I feel like the walls are closing in, where you’ve gotta remind yourself what it is you are fighting for and why. Can I Live is a song full of insightful lessons, which either remind you of the world you hath left behind, or guide you unto a path where you can best avoid those trappings because of Jay-Z’s retrospective content. If you haven’t already listened to the track or the album in full, I suggest you do so without delay because this is not another Gangster/Mobster Rap/Hip Hop album, this is an insight leagues beneath the tough guy exterior to reveal the vulnerable side of someone battling with two extremes of their consciousness. We all can relate to this battle, no matter where you’re from, going, or currently at.