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Jay-Z later explained that the album was made during one of the worst periods of his life when he was reeling from the death of his close friend, The Notorious B. The album's glossy production stood as a contrast to his first release, and some dedicated fans felt he had "sold out." However, the album did feature some beats from producers who had worked with him on Reasonable Doubt, namely DJ Premier and Ski. Charting hits from this album included "Can I Get A...", featuring Ja Rule and Amil, and "Nigga What, Nigga Who", also featuring Amil. 2 would eventually become Jay-Z's most commercially successful album; it was certified 5× Platinum in the United States and has to date sold over five million copies. The album helped to introduce newcomer producers The Neptunes, Just Blaze, Kanye West, and Bink, which have all gone on to achieve notable success. He later performed the song "Takeover", at Summer Jam 2001, which initially attacked Prodigy and revealed photos of Prodigy dressed like Michael Jackson.
In 1999, Jay-Z dueted with Mariah Carey on "Heartbreaker", a song from her seventh album, Rainbow. This is also the first album where Jay-Z utilizes a more soulful sound than his previous albums. Nas responded with a diss track called "Ether" and Jay-Z straightaway added a verse to "Takeover" which dissed Nas and would start a feud between the two rappers.
Four tracks were produced by Kanye West and the album represents one of West's first major breaks in the industry. It was later reissued in a single-disc version, The Blueprint 2.1, which retained half of the tracks from the original.
Along with future rapper AZ, Carter attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn until it was closed down. and Busta Rhymes, followed by a stint at Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, though he did not graduate."Guns & Roses", featuring Lenny Kravitz, and "Hovi Baby" were two successful radio singles as well. The Blueprint 2.1 featured tracks that do not appear on The Blueprint He worked with several producers including Just Blaze, The Neptunes, Kanye West, Timbaland, Eminem, DJ Quik, 9th Wonder, The Buchanans, and Rick Rubin.The album also contained the tracks "A Dream", featuring Faith Evans and the late The Notorious B. Notable songs on the album included "What More Can I Say", "Dirt Off Your Shoulder", "Change Clothes", and "99 Problems".He has also had four number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, one ("Empire State of Mind") as lead artist.In 2009, he was ranked the tenth-most successful artist of the 2000s by Billboard as well as the fifth top solo male artist and fourth top rapper behind Eminem, Nelly, and 50 Cent.