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jay-z

There are hundreds of hip-hop albums released every year. Some are terrible, some are good. Some are even great. But then there's Jay-Z, and his most recent release, Kingdom Come.

See, the thing that distinguishes Jay's album from every other modern hip-hop album released is that all the other artists want to be like Jay. The man is his own genre, the standard to which all other hip hop albums are compared. Then there's the whole retirement thing. Two years ago, Jay announced he was retiring from the game. Whether the announcement was just a marketing ploy or if he really did want to leave-to get out of the politics and critics, to live a semi-normal life-will never be known.

What we do know is that Jay is back and even better. The production is spot-on and his rhymes are tighter than ever, with subjects ranging from the glamorous life of a hip-hop superstar and CEO to his age to occasional heart-breaking self-reflection. He's out to prove that despite his age, 35, he's still able to redefine the rap world-and he's proven it. There is no arguing: Jay-Z is to rap as Elvis was to rock and as Michael Jackson and Madonna were to pop. We're living in the shadow of a legend, the Zeus of the rap world. There is only one thing that we mortals can do: enjoy it while we can.

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