Review: 4.1 out of 5
Best Songs: “D.O.A.”, “Run This Town”, “A Star Is Born”, So Ambitious”, “Hater”, “Young Forever”
The long awaited Jay-Z album is here and honestly it’s a little better than American Gangster and a hell out of lot better than Kingdom Come. It sort of reminds me of a revamped version of Kingdom Come as Jay-Z presents his life as it is now and the “struggles” of being rich, famous and extradoniarly gifted. Think about this for a sec, this guy has dropped now eleven #1 albums. For a guy who doesn’t play any instrument or sing or even make his own beats this is absurd. But what Jay-Z does do is rap with so much clarity and with such a dexterity rarely seen in rap. This album may not be nearly as good The Blueprint 3 but as far as rap albums go, this is as good as it gets this year.
1. What We Talkin’ Bout (Produced by Kanye West & No I.D.)
Jay-Z has always been known for great intros and as far as the rap goes, he goes in. However, this beat is too lazy to get anyones adrenaline pumping. Another thing that irks me is Jigga repeating lines such as “I don’t rap no more, I run the map”, it sounds uninspiring to me, which seems like Jay-Z’s biggest achilles heel these days.
Best line: “Dame made millions even Jaz made some scraps, he would have made more but he didn’t sign his contract”.
2. Thank You (Produced by Kanye West & No I.D.)
Lazy horns provide the backdrop for this song about Jay-Z thanking the masses for all his success. The problem with this song is the production because Hov just completely floors the competition with his trademark conversational flow. However, I think the biggest problem people have with Jay-Z is that he’s hard to relate to. I mean everyone on Earth, except Paul McCartney, knows what it feels like to have multiple #1 albums.
3. D.O.A. (Produced by No I.D.)
I always wondered why Jay-Z doesn’t rap over the kind of beats Rick Ross trampled over on Deeper Than Rap. I mean imagine Jay-Z re-did Deeper Than Rap. That would be like what fans expect The Blueprint 3 to sound like right? I think the reason Jay-Z doesn’t do it is because other rappers like Rick Ross do it. It’s not like Jay-Z can’t get J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League to produce a song for him, heck they are probably dying to work with him, it’s just that the new Jay-Z is happy with going left and “D.O.A.” proves it.
4. Run This Town featuring Kanye West & Rihanna (Produced by Kanye West & No I.D.)
First time I heard this song I thought “damn Yeezy out did Jay” but after a few more listens you realize how juvenile Kanye’s flow sounds in comparison to Jay’s nimble as ever spit. It is true, Yeezy brings out emotions better but in my world there is no way Jay-Z is being out done by Kanye West.
5. Empire State of Mind featuring Alicia Keys (Produced by Al Shux)
I despise the first 10 seconds of this song, it sounds like Kingdom Come reincarnated, but after the beat kicks in, it’s actually okay. Hov puts together a slightly above average New York anthem which will be forgotten by next year.
6. Real As It Gets featuring Young Jeezy (Produced by The Inkredibles)
I could actually hear Memphis Bleek fill in for Jeezy on this joint, and probably would have liked it better if he did. As the title suggest this is straight filler material. As a matter of fact any rap song made in 2009 with the word “Real” in it should be deem as straight filler.
7. On To The Next One (Produced by Swizz Beatz)
Jay-Z gets like twenty years younger over a cliche Swizz Beatz, but nonetheless, this song is tolerable even though Jay seems to be channeling Mims. A case of the master learning from the student?
8. Off That (Produced by Timbaland)
Why in god’s name would you get Drake to do a rap hook over a Timbaland beat? Drake’s got to have died when he was told he can’t do a verse to this beat. I know I would have. Anyway, Jay-Z touches on how post-hip hop he is by being over baggy clothes, cris, and much of the stereotypes that hip hop came to be known about since the 90s. The only problem is, most people that listen to hip hop have been post-hip hop since 2007.
9. A Star is Born featuring J. Cole (Produced by Kanye West & No I.D.)
The first song on BP3 with an interesting subject matter and guess what the topic is? How great other rappers are. Yes, the new Jay-Z isn’t as much as absorbed in his own success as we thought he is, okay he is, but not on this song at least. Jay breaks down the rise of many of his peers for the last two decades with such clarity and poise it is almost unbelievable. I’m not sure what J. Cole adds to the song other than to help cross promote his signing to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation. Speaking of J. Cole, hopefully he won’t be another Young Chris.
10. Venus Vs. Mars (Produced by Timbaland)
I swear this song could be on In My Lifetime Volume 2 as Jay-Z gets like thirty years younger talking about his problems dealing with the opposite sex. Isn’t this guy married to Beyonce?
Best line: “Took my whole flavor, I call her Coke Zero”.
11. Already Home featuring Kid Cudi (Produced by Kanye West)
I can’t stand this song so much I haven’t made it to the end of the track. So I’m just going to say this song made the album so Jay could get the hipsters on board.
12. Hate featuring Kanye West (Produced by Kanye West)
Now this is one bad ass song as Jay and Yee trade spit over a Timbalandish Kanye beat. Only question I have is who the hell hates on Jay-Z and Kanye West? These are like the coolest guys in the world.
13. Reminder (Produced by Timbaland)
When I first I heard this song I thought “oh no Jay-Z’s turned into the old man talking about how great he was”. But really this song is probably going to be the most remembered song of BP3 as Jay-Z tells even Joe Budden to “Button up”. This song has the same sort of vibe as “Brooklyn We Go Hard”, which should have made the album by the way.
14. So Ambitious (Produced by The Neptunes)
Finally Jay-Z and The Neptunes get the correct formula for making an introspective track. One of my favorite tracks probably because I am so ambitious. I think Jay-Z actually gets that part of his appeal is that he has been a role model for many kids to get out of the hood and start their own businesses. This song is more like motivational speaking than a rap song about how great Jay-Z is.
Best line: “No vision, lack of ambition, so wack”.
15. Young Forever featuring Kanye West (Produced by Kanye West)
I love this hook even though it’s a rip off of what Alphaville did on the original “Forever Young”. I also like what Yeezy did on the beat and Mr. Hudson’s performance is perfect. Although Jay’s raps could have been better he has a few great moments in this song.
Best line: “And as the father pass the story down on to his son’s ears, young a get younger every year”.
The Last Word
Even though this album finds Jay-Z spiting harder than he has on his last two albums, the albums lacks a focused concept which made the first Blueprint so classic and lacks in the passion the early Jay-Z had. Even though Jay-Z is rapping better than most rappers these days, he seems he really has nothing to prove other than to keep making songs about how he has nothing to prove. I know Jay-Z’s thinking longevity ’till he’s seventy, but I think he as well as many older artists need to stop dropping albums until they actually are inspired to make a full and complete album. It’s so easy to make songs these days, the art of rap is really unimpressive, what I want to see is more artist focusing on cohesive albums with groundbreaking songs.