Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life is the third studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released on September 29, 1998, by Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. It went on to become his most commercially successful album, selling over 5 million copies in the United States. In the liner notes of the album, Jay-Z gives his thoughts on various tracks. The lyrics to the fast-paced "Nigga What, Nigga Who" are also included.