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Jay-Z

This is part 41 of an ongoing series where the kind folk of the music business reveal their favourite album of all time.

Ask people in the music industry the seemingly simple and straightforward question, “What is your favourite album of all time?” and you’ll find that it’s not always easy. After all, my industry peers listen to hundreds of albums a month – thousands of songs during that time. Because the question isn’t the best album of all time or the one that’s made them the most money in sales, or the most clicked-on review, but the one release they personally can’t live without, that one title they have two copies of in several formats, in case one breaks. It’s also about that album that for them has the best back stories and the one that has the most meaning in their lives.

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S-Dot, Afternoon Drive Host, 97.9/105.5 KISS FM in Utica, NY
Jay Z, The Black Album
I love this album for so many reasons. First of all, I consider Jay Z the greatest rapper ever. He’s also my personal favorite artist of all time & I consider this his greatest album. December 4th features his mother on the track telling everyone her memories of Shawn as a child while at the same time he’s telling the story of how his parents met & an amazing story about growing up in Brooklyn. From that song, all the way through the end of the album, there’s nothing but classic lines & classic beats thanks to some of my favorite producers of all time including Timbaland, Pharrell (The Neptunes) & Kanye West. Jay’s lyrics and stories are solid on every song. Hands down. I don’t think anyone can say this isn’t one of Jay’s best albums. For me, it’s my favorite of all time.

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Rob Jones, Blogger, The Delete Bin
The Beatles, Abbey Road
This album almost wasn’t made since all four Beatles (with the possible exception of Paul) had checked out where the Beatles were concerned. And on paper, it’s pretty uneven; lots of odd styles mashed into one place and with incomplete fragments of songs strung together. But, it is greater than the sum of its parts, coming off as downright Arthurian as the band sails off to Avalon, never to return. The last line (not including “Her Majesty” of course) is devastating, and entirely proper. It’s a summation of what the band meant to us all since they began; “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”. It sounds like a benediction. Maybe that’s what the whole album is, too.

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Rita Ballou, KOKE FM
Loretta Lynn, Greatest Hits Volume Two
When I was a little girl I fell in love with the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter. I was obsessed with the music in the movie and that year I asked Santa to bring me the soundtrack. “Santa” couldn’t find that record, but instead he brought me Loretta Lynn’s Greatest Hits Volume 2, that included the song Coal Miner’s Daughter. I’ve always considered that album my “gateway drug” into my love for not only real country music, but my passion for songs written by strong, fearless women who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions, even if those opinions aren’t always the most popular.

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Prospector, Anger Artist, ROCK 107
Too Much Joy, Cereal Killers
A great piece of power pop, with punk attitude and an oddly early 90’s commercial sound. Great hooks, great guitars and great songwriting. I got the CD by mistake, I was in a record store (remember them?) and a cover of Seasons in the Sun came on, (the old Terry Jacks song) so I asked the owner who this was and he said it was Too Much Joy, I went to the Ts and grabbed the only TMJ CD they had. The song was on the album previous to this (Son of Sam I Am) but I fell in love with Cereal Killers. Just last week I had it cranked up at the house, much to the chagrin of my wife.

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Mike Siegel, Host and one of the nation’s foremost experts in media and communication.
James Brown, Live At The Apollo
He is my favorite artist of all time. He appeared on my radio talk show for an interview and actually recorded an intro for my show that is used at the top of each hour. This album epitomizes the power of his music at live appearances on his audiences. As a teenager, I frequented his shows at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem every May and November when he appeared for a week at a time. His overwhelming presence and control of the audience was obvious. I had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of his body guards during a show and he actually pointed out the specific moments at which James would raise the emotional peak to a point that the crowd responded in unison. An amazing performer.

In just six years on the air (2009-15), Fox’s Glee rewrote Hot 100 history, as the show’s cast sports the most entries on the chart of any act all-time: a whopping 207. In 2009, the Glee cast had twenty-five singles chart on the Billboard Hot 100, the most by any artist since The Beatles had thirty-one songs in the chart in 1964; in 2010, it placed eighty singles on the Billboard Hot 100, far outstripping the previous record. How did they do? By releasing multiple singles alongside each new episode, and their strong weekly sales at the height of the show’s popularity allowed the act to quickly surpass Presley’s long-standing mark (108). Lil Wayne has also overtaken the King, running up 127 Hot 100 hits, although approximately two-thirds of his trips to the chart have been in featured roles.

Down the list, but deserves a mention is Akon, who often provides vocals as a featured artist and is currently credited with over 300 guest appearances and more than 35 Billboard Hot 100 songs.

207, Glee Cast
127, Lil Wayne
108, Elvis Presley
100, Drake
91, James Brown
83, Jay Z
75, Ray Charles
73, Chris Brown
73, Aretha Franklin
71, The Beatles

The list of acts with the most Hot 100 hits was compiled from the chart’s Aug. 4, 1958 inception through the chart dated Oct. 10, 2015.

Via Billboard

Time Magazine was founded in 1923 and for decades was dominated by Henry Luce, now has the world’s largest circulation for a weekly news magazine, and has a readership of 25 million, 20 million of which are based in the United States. Dr. Hook may have wanted and sung about being on the cover of Rolling Stone, but you know you’ve really made it when you’re on the front of Time Magazine.

Here are the cover that featured some of the biggest names in music.

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Johnny Cash Time Magazine Cover, 2003

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After changing music, oh, about five or six times, by working with The Beastie Boys, JJ Cool J, and Johnny Cash, Rick Rubin hit Genius to share the wisdom he’s gathered in his 30-plus years of producing. He annotated some of the classic songs he’s produced on—from Jay Z to Kanye West—as well as work he’s simply a fan of.  You can tell he’s still a big music fan, drawing on memories of his start, and what he’s listening to now.

You can check out all of his annotations here, and here are a few to obsess over.

On Kanye West’s “Only One” feat. Paul McCartney:

I was in St. Barths two days before the single came out. Kanye said, “I’m thinking about putting out ‘Only One’ tomorrow at midnight.” I said, “Should we mix it?” He was like, “It hasn’t really changed — it’s pretty much what it was.” I hadn’t heard it in almost two months, so I asked him to send it to me, and he did. And I said, “I think this can sound better than it does.” We never really finished it finished it.

So we called all the engineers — and I’m trying to get all this to happen all remotely — and we got maybe three different engineers. This is the day before New Year’s Eve, and we’re all finding studio time, getting the files. Then they all start sending me mixes. I thought one was better than the others, and Kanye agreed. One guy mastered it, because it was due, and they turned it in. I had another guy master it, and it was better, but it was already too late. I think it switched the following morning. It was in real time! Like as soon as it was better, we had to switch it.

That’s how it works in Kanye world. It used to really give me anxiety, but now I just know that’s what it is. That’s how he likes to work.

…Kanye is a combination of careful and spontaneous. He’ll find a theme he likes quickly, and then live with that for a while, not necessarily filling in all the words until later. At the end, he’ll fill in all the gaps.

He was upset at one point when I said that he wrote the lyrics quickly. He’s right — they percolate for a long time, he gets the phrasing into his brain, lives with it, and then lines come up. It definitely starts from this very spontaneous thing.

On “Only One,” a lot of those lyrics came out free-form, ad-libs. The song is essentially live, written in the moment. Some of the words were later improved, but most of it was stream of consciousness, just Kanye being in the moment.

On Jay Z’s “99 Problems”:

Jay came into my studio every day for like a week, I kept trying things that I thought would sound like a Jay record, and after like three or four days he said, “I want to do something more like one of your old records, Beastie Boys-style.” Originally that’s not what I was thinking for him, but he requested that vibe, and we just started working on some tracks.

Musically, there were a couple of different ideas that [engineer] Jason [Lader] and I were working on independently that we played back together, and the way the beats overlapped was really interesting. It wasn’t planned out, it was more experimenting.

There was a part where it really sounded crazy and the beats were fighting each other. Jason was operating the Pro-Tools, and I’m saying “Move to the left, move to the right, try this beat, add this, do this,” and then he makes it do it. There’s nothing live on the track.

It’s a combination of three samples — “The Big Beat” by Billy Squier, “Long Red” by Mountain, and “Get Me Back On Time” by Wilson Pickett — and two programmed beats coming in and out.

On James Blake’s “Retrograde”:

There are so many records now where it’s about really, really heavy sub-bass, maybe a hi-hat, and just a voice.

I think a lot of it is the James Blake influence. I feel like he’s really influenced everybody a lot. I know in the artist community everybody loves Blake. James Blake is spectacular, I love him all the time. Live, he’s even better than on record.

On LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells”:

It was never about proving anything, it was just that this is what I like and this is true to who they are. The only reason those first records were so aggressive, it had little to do with me. That was the good music at that moment. It wasn’t because it was that, it was the music. If the best music in that moment was folk music, that’s probably what I would have done first. I mean, I like all kinds of music, I always have, I’ve always listened to all kinds of music.

On Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a G Thang”:

I never really listened to The Chronic. I guess I never liked smooth? Same with Puff, who really brought R&B into it. I preferred hip-hop when it was nothing like R&B. I love breakbeats and B-boy style drum machines. I never liked the slick stuff.

On Kanye West’s “Bound 2”:

Something we talked about with Kanye was doing an alternate version of Yeezus,because there are so many versions of songs, great versions. There are versions just as good as what’s on the album, just different. I know as a fan of the album, I’d like to hear that. Maybe some day, whenever he wants. But it exists! That shit exists.

… “Bound 2” was a track that initially wasn’t a sample-based track. It was a band track with singing, no idea who. I got involved late in the game. 

He came in one day and said he got inspired driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, on the way to my studio. He thought it would be a good thing to try the sample he found, so we tried that and the whole song changed. The chorus was still the old way, where it was sort of a band version. I took everything out of that and reduced it to one sort of ugly sounding synth. I would say the old version was more like MOR, R&B. That’s just an example of one song on Yeezus that changed a lot. Some of them changed a little, some of them changed a lot.

On Kanye West’s “Blood on the Leaves”:

I think he worked mostly out of an apartment in Paris, but I don’t really know the details, I never went there. I do know that it was a large space, because you could hear the reverb of the space in a lot of the tracks even when you didn’t want it. I think he liked the vibe there more than thinking it was a good place to make a good-sounding recording.

On Kanye West’s “I Am a God”:

When he played Yeezus for me, it was like, three hours of stuff. We just went through it and figured out what was essential and what wasn’t. It was like deciding a point of view, and it was really his decision to make it minimal.

He kept saying it about tracks that he thought weren’t good enough and needed work. If he was going to leave me to work on stuff, he’d say, “Anything you can do to take stuff out instead of put stuff in, let’s do that.”

On Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead”:

Kanye played at some festival after the release of Yeezus, and his whole rant was something to the effect of “I turn on the radio and nothing speaks to me, and I don’t want to have anything to do with it, and I don’t want my music on the radio because I don’t like what the radio is.” So in that mindset, it makes sense that he makes a record that isn’t for that. It’s not about that. It’s so anti. It’s almost anti-hip-hop. It’s crazy.

On the Beastie Boys’ “Girls”:

Adam Horovitz and I wrote “Girls” on a train. We trained down to DC to record with the Junkyard Band, this band of kids who played D.C. go-go on garbage cans. We put out a Junkyard Band single on Def Jam.

On the train back, we wrote “Girls”. It was rooted in an Isley Brothers song, “Shout.” It was written with that music in mind and then we sort of did our version of what that would have been. We just wrote really stupid, offensive words.

From Music Business Worldwide:

When Beyonce’s husband Jay Z took the wraps off his relaunched Tidal last Monday (March 30), he not only promised HD audio and visual content to subscribers, but teased exclusives from some of the world’s biggest artists.

That came to pass within days, with ‘exclusive’ content on Tidal including concert footage from Alicia Keys plus playlists from the likes of Jason Aldean and Coldplay.

Beyonce’s Die With You, however, is the first track to premiere on the $19.99/$9.99-per-month Tidal platform. It is currently unavailable – legally – elsewhere, including Spotify and iTunes.

But there’s a problem. The nature of an ‘exclusive’ surely demands that fans don’t rip the title and upload it onto YouTube – and that’s exactly what they’ve done numerous times with Die With You.

In fact, it was on the video site within minutes of arriving on Tidal. Sony Music Entertainment appears to have been submitting copyright claims left, right and centre on YouTube.

Tuesday’s relaunch of Jay Z’s TIDAL music service was a little short on details – which was planned, don`t worry, these superstars tend not to give up everything at once – Here is the declaration that Kanye West, Madonna, Nicki Minaj. Beyonce, Jack White, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Usher, Daft Punk, deadmau5, J Cole, Jason Aldean, Calvin Harris and Jay Z signed on stage during the event.

Throughout history, every movement began with a few individuals banding together with a shared vision – a vision to change the status quo.

That vision came to life with a first step. Our first step begins today through the platform TIDAL.

TIDAL is an artist majority owned company with a mission to reestablish the value of music and protect the sustainability of the music industry rooted in creativity and expression.

As part of our vision to introduce change to the current system, we will continue expanding this platform into an all-encompassing destination in the coming months. We are working diligently everyday to enhance the overall service.

Today, the site incorporates high quality sound, video and exclusive editorial, but there are more features on the way. In time, TIDAL will not just be a streaming service but an immersive platform with enhanced experiences.

With TIDAL we are making a commitment to build a platform that reflects ideas contributed directly from artists, providing an enriched experience. Music presented and heard the way the artists intended.

We want our mission with TIDAL to spark conversation and lay a foundation for tomorrow’sburgeoning stars.

Our movement is being led by a few who are inviting all to band together for a common cause, a movement to change the status quo.

Today marks the next step.

As If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late blasts onto the Billboard 200 at No. 1, five songs from the set enter the Hot 100, led by this track at No. 49. He now has 80 Hot 100 entries, the sixth-best total in the chart’s history. And, with Lil Wayne guesting on Drake’s “Used To,” a debut at No. 91, Weezy ups his count to 125 career visits.

Here’s an updated look at the acts to make the most appearances dating to the Hot 100’s 1958 launch:

207, Glee cast
125, Lil Wayne
108, Elvis Presley (whose career predated the Hot 100 by more than two years)
91, James Brown
83, Jay Z
80, Drake

Via Billboard

The chart lets you sort the numbers across five analytics: No. 1 albums, hit rate, consecutive No. 1s, albums released, and career span. Even though this information is available already online, it’s fun to compare the careers of Pearl Jam and Barbara Streisand, because, well, music.


Click image to open interactive version (via Concert Hotels).