There's a few things we've noticed about Jay-Z: he likes doing weird stuff with his hands, he's probably addicted to cigars and people don't like his face. Observe what happened when Metacritic ranked seven of Jay-Z's albums:
Notice how he's all over the place in critical response. An 88 in 2001, a 64 the next year, an 84 the year after that. Now, let's take those same albums, plus a few more, and see how they rate once we look at the album covers. See if you can spot the trend.
Reasonable Doubt - 1996
Jay-Z Face Time - Just about zero. We get a blurry half of a nose, three quarters of a lower lip and that's about it.
Reception - Astounding. It's called an "undisputed classic" and his "crowning achievement." Rolling Stone put it on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Everybody loves Jay-Z.
In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 - 1997
Jay-Z Face Time - Between clinched fists and a clearly defined 'You wanna go?' taunt in his expression, Jay-Z uses this album cover to establish himself as a real deal street hustler. No more silky white scarves for this baller. He's what? An arm's length away from the viewer?
Reception - In My Lifetime sold ok, but it was also called 'mundane or embarrassing' and lacking a clear vision. Vibe said he was inconsistent and threw punches "with the impact of hip hop marshmallows." Ouch.