I think this is a reasonable comparison as all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. I like all of them however.

Volume 1 was a little awkward as he was reaching for the mainstream on some songs but he did it badly and the songs just sound out of place next to some of Jay's more heartfelt and lyrical songs. This album has some of Jay's best (Lucky Me, A Million and One Stories) but also some of his worst.

Volume 2 was Jay's true commercial breakthrough. In terms of actual rapping, I think Jay may have improved. Just check "Nigga What, Nigga Who" for Jay's spastic, off-the-hinges flow. There were some great storytelling tracks ("A Week Ago" "Coming of Age (Da Sequel)") but they were buried around a lot of commercial tracks. Unlike Vol 1 though, these commercial tracks struck a better balance. Unfortunately though, for most of this album, Jay is on some ignorant shit and is kind of boring lyrically.

Volume 3 was probably the most interesting of them all. With an all star cast of producers, this joint sounds GOOD. It's actually a bit overblown with it's eclectic productions though and it feels a little scattered. It's also a bit long, but Jay definitely returned to his lyrical apex on this one and he spits a lot of good rhymes. I'd say this is where Jay really developed that signature swagger of his. Along with Blueprint, this album is probably the best display of Jay's confidence and swagger. At this point in his career, he quickly careening uncontrollably into international superstardom and it was going to his head; it does make for a very fun character to listen to on wax, that's for sure.

I'm kind of torn between Vol 1 and Vol 3 but I'm leaning more toward Vol 1 simply for Jay's reflective songs on that album; that and it's a bit more cohesive. So which of the Volume albums is you guys favorite?