Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come poses a simple question: What does it mean for a rapper to age? In 10 years, JAY-Z had ascended from trying (and failing) to hustle a record deal to being named president and CEO of Def Jam. Along the way, he carved new paths for Black voices in corporate America while almost single-handedly helping transform rap into its national pop music. On Kingdom Come, his 2006 “comeback” album, he takes stock of how far he’s come. He still imagines his enemies gunning for him (“Oh My God”), but he also celebrates his good fortune in escaping his past, unlike most of his peers (“I Made It,” “Kingdom Come”). And by his own grace, Jay doesn’t pretend his 36-year-old self cares about the same things his 26-year-old one does (“30 Something,” “Hollywood”). With his business intact, he’s even gotten comfortable enough to admit he’s failed. “Some said: ‘Hov’, how you get so fly?’” he raps on “Beach Chair.” “I said: ‘From not being afraid to fall out the sky.’” Granted, JAY-Z can’t help comparing himself to a mythical figure. But give him credit for the humility.

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