1001 Songs Challenge,  1990s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #836: Brooklyn’s Finest (1996)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


Jay-Z featuring The Notorious B.I.G. – Brooklyn’s Finest (1996)

Reasonable Doubt (album) – Wikipedia

Reasonable Doubt is the debut studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released on June 25, 1996, by Roc-A-Fella Records and Priority Records. The album features production provided by DJ Premier, Ski, Knobody and Clark Kent, and also includes guest appearances from Memphis Bleek, Mary J.


Lyrics (via Genius)


We’re saying goodbye to Galicia and Spain, dear reader, and making our way back to the US and to New York. Jay-Z began his music career in 1995 when, struggling to find a record label, he founded an independent one named Roc-A-Fella Records. Smart man. When we join him in 1996 it is with the release of his debut album – Reasonable Doubt – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Brooklyn’s Finest.

Boasting 12 verses and multiple repetitions of the chorus, Brooklyn’s Finest sees Jay-Z team up with The Notorious B.I.G. The story goes this was their first meeting in a studio environment. They had the music, all that was needed was the rap, and both men went for it. The song itself pitches the pair as Brooklyn’s finest of the title and talks of evading the police and the feds, drug trafficking, the fear instilled in others by these bad boys, and even references to Coolio, Faith Evans and 2Pac. 

I am slowly adapting to hip hop thanks to this journey but it remains a challenging genre for someone as ignorant as myself. Listening to Brooklyn’s Finest the word “badass” simply oozes out of every pore. Jay-Z does not sound like this is his debut work, he already sounds like a veteran, while the interplay between him and The Notorious B.I.G. works really well. Future collaborations between the two never came to be when The Notorious B.I.G., like 2Pac, was shot and killed in 1997 at the age of 24. As for Jay-Z, well, today he is a billionaire, the result of not just his music, but multiple business ventures.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

U2 – One (1991)

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (1994)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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