Twenty years ago a new record label owner and rapper made his formal introduction to the world with his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. And now fans can look back on Jay Z‘s bow through a new documentary on Tidal, a preview of which can be seen below.
Titled Jaÿ-Z: RD20, the doc features interviews with DJ Premier, Memphis Bleek, Tone Hooker, Emory Jones, and more as they reflect on this hip-hop staple. “The irony is, to this day everybody is a boss or trying to appear like Jay first appeared in that album, Reasonable Doubt versus in the ‘90s it’s just everybody wanted to be the best rapper,” Hooker says. “Now everybody wants to be the best hustler.”
Released on June 25, 1996 by Roc-A-Fella Records, the label he founded with Damon Dash, Jay Z’s first EP is widely considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time. Upon its release, EW’s review pointed out, “It’s not what he says on Reasonable Doubt, but how he says it — with an irresistible confidence, a voice that exudes tough-guy authenticity, and unadorned but suitably militant beats.”
His debut — which featured tracks including “Dead Presidents II,” “Brooklyn’s Finest” (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.), and “Can’t Knock the Hustle” (featuring Mary J. Blige) — introduced rap and hip hop fans to the man who would eventually give us “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “99 Problems,” “Big Pimpin‘,” “Hard Knock Life,” and “Crazy in Love” featuring wife Beyoncé. Looking back on the album that started it all, though, Jay tweeted Saturday it “literally saved my life.”
Watch the documentary on Tidal here, and check out previews below.