Entertainment Music An Overview of Jay-Z's Discography An Annotated list of Jay-Z's albums through the years Share PINTEREST Email Print Getty Images for Roc Nation / Getty Images Music Rap & Hip Hop Basics Top Picks Rock Music Pop Music Alternative Music Classical Music Country Music Folk Music Rhythm & Blues World Music Punk Music Heavy Metal Jazz Latin Music Oldies Learn More By Henry Adaso Henry Adaso has written about hip-hop since 2005 and founded the award-winning blog The Rap Up. He has written for "Vibe," MTV, Rap Rehab, and more. our editorial process Henry Adaso Updated January 31, 2019 Jay-Z is undeniably one of the most important artists of our generation. His career has flourished with hit after hit. Need proof? Here's an annotated overview of Jay-Z's discography. 'Reasonable Doubt' (1996) Amazon By all creative standards, Jay-Z's first album was his best. Reasonable Doubt was both an honest narrative of the ills associated with street life and an unrepentant defense of it. 'In My Lifetime Vol. 1' (1997) Amazon Considering that Jay was only supposed to record one album, produced classics like "Where I'm From" and "Streets Is Watching." 'Vol. 2 Hardknock Life' (1998) Amazon By now, Jay-Z the gully hustler has been polished to an utmost luster. To that effect, he encountered his biggest commercial success with Vol. 2, thanks to anthems like the sing-along "Hard Knock Life," "Money Ain't a Thang" and "Can I Get A..." The album earned Jay his first No.1 debut, en route to an impressive 5.5 million records sold. Not to mention a Grammy for Best Rap Album. 'Vol.3...Life & Times of S. Carter' (1999) Amazon Jigga's ambivalent part-thug, part-seductive personality is largely at play here. The poignant production is also a big part of the success recipe. DJ Premier, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and Rockwilder all contribute some hard-hitting anthems. Standout cuts include: "It's Hot," "Big Pimpin'," and "Do It Again." 'The Dynasty: Roc-La-Familia' (2000) Amazon In an attempt to capitalize on his popularity, Jay assembles his protégés Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and others for this lackluster compilation. Still, The Dynasty managed to debut at No. 1 and went on to be certified platinum. 'The Blueprint' (2001) Amazon It's impossible to exaggerate the grandness of The Blueprint, Jay-Z's sixth studio album. Tracks include "Girls, Girls, Girls", "Song Cry", and "U Don't Know". 'The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse' (2002) Amazon The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse was a sequel to The Blueprint (2001). The album contained two discs. The first was The Gift which featured "mainstream, pop-oriented music" with tracks like Excuse Me Miss which was produced and co-written with The Neptunes and "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" (featuring Beyoncé). On the other hand, the second disk, The Curse, featured darker streets songs including "Some How Some Way", the Nas-diss "Blueprint2". 'The Black Album' (2003) Amazon Ah, the much-trumpeted farewell album. If this had ended up being Jay-Z's final lap, one could safely conclude then that he went out with a loud bang. Jay's eighth studio album gave rise to instant hits like "99 Problems" and "What More Can I Say," as well as the concert favorite "P.S.A." 'Kingdom Come' (2006) Amazon When Jay announced his retirement in 2003, no one believed him. Many saw the move as a scheme to build up anticipation for his next release. Enter, an album in which Mr. Carter exchanged street clothes for a three-piece suit. Jigga's comeback album was rife with bragfests on anchoring boardroom meetings and paying more taxes than most will make in a lifetime. A big "huh" moment ensued among his audience, many of whom were still scraping up for their first car. Luckily, gems like "Kingdom Come," "Do U Wanna Ride" and "Minority Report" kept the album from being a dud. 'American Gangster' (2007) Amazon After seeing an early version of the Ridley Scott-directed movie, Jay-Z decided to record a complementary concept album of the same title. Highlights include "Say Hello," "American Dreaming," and "Blue Magic" (a bonus track). 'The Blueprint 3' (2009) Amazon Jay-Z concludes The Blueprint 3 on 9/11/09. Kanye contributes a total of 7 tracks, with Timbaland and No. I.D. manning the boards on the other songs. It's a solid effort but fails to match the intensity of the original disc. 'Magna Carta... Holy Grail' (2013) Amazon During Game 5 of the 2013 NBA Finals, Jay-Z announced a new album. It debuted on July 4th, with production from Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland and guest vocals from Nas, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean, and Beyonce. As part of his #newrules campaign, Jay teamed up with SAMSUNG to give away a million free copies of the album. Magna Carta... Holy Grail was certified platinum upon its release.