Madonna has a guest appearance on the Black Album on track 13 titled “Justify My Thug” which was produced by DJ Quik. What you may not know is that Jay-Z and Madonna were so happy with how “Justify My Thug” came out that they planned on recording together again in the future. Given that at the time Jay-Z was in “retirement”, Jay-Z would have most likely showed up on a Madonna album.
The very first music to be released from the Black Album was the promotional 12” LP of the initial single “Change Clothes” produced by the Neptunes. Side A of the LP was the first single and on the B Side which was also the second song (considered the street single) of the album to be released was “What More Can I Say”.
Jay-Z had released his “Black Album Acapella” album in 2004 and wanted anyone and everyone to make their own mix of it. It surprisingly sold well for an album with just acapellas and many versions were eventually shared on p2p networks. Of all the DJ remixes of “The Black Album”, the two most popular were Dj Danger Mouse’s “Grey Album” which was mashed with The Beatles “White Album” and the “Double Black Album” which was mixed with music from Metallica.
The very first version that Jay-Z had in mind for the “Black Album” was to have an album that was entirely produced by DJ Premier. Jay-Z told Premier that he wanted Premier to clear his schedule and only focus on producing for him. Jay-Z didn’t go forth with the concept in the end and told Premier that he would re-visit the idea later on in his career. According to Premier, Jay-Z had been talking about this album as early as 2000, three years before the album was released. The interesting thing about that is Jay-Z wanted to do an entire album produced by Premier, but in the end, the final version of the “Black Album” didn’t even have DJ Premier on it!
That was original plan for the “Black Album”. The second plan for the album was for Jay-Z to have twelve different tracks by twelve separate producers. The album’s very first print ads also have a track list of the twelve producers Jay-Z wanted to work with. Jay-Z ended up scraping that idea shortly after advertising it in XXL magazine and The Source. Of the original twelve producers listed on the album five didn’t make the final cut: Dr. Dre, Swizz Beatz, Trackmasters, Ski and Dj Premier.
Jay-Z’s the “Black Album” was released on November 14th, 2003. But, did you know that the album shared the release date with another very hyped hip-hop album? 50 Cent and G-Unit released their group debut album “Beg For Mercy” on the same exact day. Also, something to note, the original date of the “Black Album” was November 28th, 2003, but again due to bootlegging, Jay-Z had to move the release date up two weeks. The Black Album landed at #1 on Billboards Top 100 with Beg Mercy coming in at #2.
And speaking of bootlegging, Jay-Z has faced bootlegging issues going back to his “Volume 3…..The Life and Times of S. Carter” album. In fact, it was said that he was so furious with his material leaking early that he allegedly stabbed Lance “Un” Rivera over it. Now Jay-Z has had stuff leak onto mixtapes and online going back a very long time, but with the “The Black Album”, it was Jay-Z’s first time that his entire album hit the internet two days before the official release of his album.
If you were to look at the cd booklet of “The Black Album” you will see a short excerpt of a passage from a book titled “The Black Book”. Back in 2002 and 2003, Jay-Z and friend Dream Hampton had been working on an autobiography. Apparently, the book got as far as being finished (and promoted) but Jay-Z backed out before the publishing of the book because in the end, he didn’t want to public to know about private (and past criminal) life. The plan had been for Jay-Z to release the Black Album first and then follow up with the release of the book.
Producer 9th Wonder has said that he made his first beat for Jay-Z (which was Threat) on an IBM Thinkpad and Fruity Loops Studio 4. 9th Wonder claims he made the beat in under 20 minutes. That officially makes Threat the very first Jay-Z song that was completely constructed on Fruity Loops.