Personnel includes: Jay-Z (rap vocals); Sharlotte Gibson, Vincent "Hum V" Bostic, John Legend, Don Crawley, Leonard Harris, Kanye West, Danee Doty, Cedric The Entertainer. Producers include: The Neptunes, DJ Quik, Eminem, Rick Rubin, Just Blaze. In what he claims to be his final release as a musical performer, Jay-Z drops THE BLACK ALBUM, a sprawling, ambitious effort that rivals the best work of the rapper's already legendary career. Working with a who's who of hip-hop's most high-profile producers, the outrageously talented MC adjusts his flow and subject matter to the wildly varied tracks, proving once again just how gifted he is as a wordsmith. From the epic "What More Can I Say" (a collaboration with the Buchannans) to the brutally honest, Eminem-produced "Moment of Clarity," THE BLACK ALBUM bleeds with inspiration. Other highlights include the fuel-injected "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" (featuring Timbaland behind the board), the club-ready "Change Clothes" (which sports the Neptunes' trademark beats), and the old-school stomp of "99 Problems" (with pioneering hip-hop producer Rick Rubin). It makes one wonder how an artist at the peak of his craft could willingly put the microphone down. Hopefully, time out of the spotlight will remind Shawn Carter why he became successful in the first place, and find him back in the studio.