Fourteen years ago, today, Jay-Z released his breakout album, Hard Knock Life. Jay-Z had previously released albums in 1996 and 1997. Both albums were met with positive reviews, but were not enough to put him over the hump. Fortunes changed for Jay-Z in 1998 with Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life. The album would sell over five million records in the United States, a then-record for Def Jam.
Jay-Z posted several hits off the album and established himself as a force in the rap game. The success of Hard Knock Life and the title track paved the way for Jay-Z. Over the years, Jay-Z would deliver eight more albums and a retirement. In addition to the music, Jay-Z would also take over the head role at Def Jam before leaving to form Roc Nation.
Close to two decades later, Jay-Z continues to go strong, now the executive producer of NBA 2K13. During the red carpet for the 2K13 event, Jay-Z spoke to MTV News about the album that helped put him on the global map. Jay-Z spoke of how he wanted Dame Grease for the album and instead was given Swizz Beatz, which initially he did not like, but loved once he heard the music.
Watch the entire interview below: