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So nice, Jay-Z did it thrice

November 12, 2009
tags: ,

The Blueprint 3
Roc Nation
September 1, 2009

Rating: 8.0/10

I’ll be the first to admit that hip-hop isn’t exactly my thing (noted here). A simple glance at my past reviews, or a conversation about music reveals how woefully underrepresented hip-hop is in my personal collection.

Sure, I know Kanye’s work, I’m a big fan of Lupe Fiasco’s, hell I even know that Drake is the next big thing. But, to tell the truth, most of the time I’d rather listen to Wilco than the Wu-Tang Clan.

Despite these seemingly large setbacks, I love Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3.

From the first time I heard “Empire State of Mind” I was hooked. The simple chime of the piano accentuating the backbeat and Alicia Keys gorgeous voice rising out of the din create a wonderful anthem for the city that never sleeps. But the real beauty of this album does not lie solely in track five.

The hits are wide spread across this album, and like Jay-Z’s rhymes they hit hard and stick around. Even the spiteful “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” which was probably written in a matter of minutes, produces some good, old school vibrations.

“Run This Town” is unequivocally the standout track (besides “Empire State”), and assistance from Rihanna and Kanye West make it even better.

Kanye’s rhymes, while generally not appropriate for printing, best even Jay’s effort across the four-plus minutes of the song. Though Mr. West gets a few good shots in “J-Hova” is no lyrical slouch, and he flexes his muscle all over this album.

Jay’s lyrics are just as strong on The Blueprint 3 as they were when he was in his prime when The Black Album or the original Blueprint came out. Among my favorite lines is his quip about rocking a Yankee cap in which he claims he made the hat more famous than a Yankee can.

The material seems to get a bit stale in the middle of the album on “On to the Next One” and “Off That” in which his ego inflates a bit farther as he pretentiously repeats that he is over whatever it is we (the listener) are discovering and inserting reminders that he is a completely different tax bracket than whoever is listening.

I fear my lack of experience is my bane at this point, because it seems that most rappers have oversized egos. Still, I can’t help wondering if Jay is already over this album. With a head that big, it’s doubtful.

Regardless, Mr. Carter comes back strong with “A Star is Born” and “Already Home,” keeping the album going strong for his big finish “Young Forever.”

The last track on the album features Mr. Hudson, a British R&B band signed to Kanye’s label G.O.O.D. Music. The Brits provide the backing for Jay-Z by playing their version of German electro-pop group Alphaville’s hit single “Forever Young.” The song provides a very fitting end to the record.

It reminds that this is Jay’s third album since his “retirement,” but he’s still got it. He even throws in a few good sentiments to make his fans feel good after listening.

Though the album fell flat on a couple of occasions, the hits that are spread between the fifteen tracks are more than enough to make this album thoroughly enjoyable. I may not have a great knowledge of what hip-hop was released this year, but this is my favorite hip-hop record of 2009.

Run This Town (Feat. Rihanna and Kanye West)
Empire State of Mind (Feat. Alicia Keys)

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