A greatest-hits compilation was inevitable, but possibly too soon. Taking things up to right before 1999's Life and Times of S. Carter, this compiles all of the earliest Jay-Z anthems onto one disc, quite possibly to ride off of the success of the Blueprint and Unplugged releases. These tracks are infectious and wildly pop-savvy hip-hop masterpieces that laid the groundwork for the R&B/hip-hop charts for the past decade, and they show Jay-Z in some of the finest moments of his career. It's a smart idea, but the album could have been much stronger had more recent material been included in place of remixes as bonus tracks. That said, fans unfamiliar with his classic early work should start here. Die-hard loyalists most likely have everything noteworthy already.
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AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston
feat: Jermaine Dupri
feat: Foxy Brown