Album Review: Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 3”

10 Sep

The Blueprint 3It has been a long ride for Jay-Z releasing this album. Only months after he released 2007’s American Gangster, Jay-Z was rumored to be working on The Blueprint 3. Months later, these rumors proved to be true when Timbaland stated that he was producing the entire album.

Jay-Z came back to refute those comments, saying that Timbaland was producing for the album, but not the whole thing. It turned out that The Blueprint 3 was going to be a Kanye West project. He was working on the album around the same time that he was doing 808s & Heartbreak. Both his album and The Blueprint 3 were to be released in 2008.

When his album was heavily auto-tune-influenced, Jay-Z decided to scrap the entire album and start from scratch. The result came in June 2009, when Jay-Z premiered his single, “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune).” The song has provided its fair share of controversy and it returned Jay-Z’s name into the game.

In typical Jay-Z fashion, he had to return with a banger. His second single, “Run this Town,” has become the biggest hit of his career, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. After two releases met with mixed reviews, Jay has decided to come back with something different.

1.What We Talkin’ About (featuring Luke Steele) – This intro is unlike any past into into a Jay-Z album. The song has a futuristic melody in the background as Jay-Z talks about the current state of him and his content. On the song, he briefly mentions his past issues in the rap game, but he does not dwell on it. Overall, Jay-Z comes on the beat with a smooth flow and a confident rhyme that is letting everyone know that he is back. The chorus is forgettable and Jay-Z slipped up a bit in the beginning of the second verse. The song is still a good listen. (7/10)

2. Thank You – On “Thank You,” Jay-Z gives a thanks to his supporters in a celebratory way. The song is reminsicent of The Black Album as far as the production and his rhyming. On this song, Jay-Z seems to be reaching a new lyrical peak. The song is one of the best on the album and it proves Jay-Z is still growing as an artist. “Thank You” is another great Jay-Z song that deserves to be checked out. (10/10)

3. D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune) – This song needs no introduction. “D.O.A.” is the lead single of The Blueprint 3. It marks a triumphant return to hip hop from one of the best to ever do it. On “D.O.A.,” Jay-Z simply points out the state of the rap game and it called out those rappers that rely more on the music box more so than their own lyrics. He tells the rappers that they are “T-Paining too much.” The song was not a massive hit, but not too many new songs feature the machine. This song has heated up airwaves over the summer and will continue to this fall. (9/10)

4. Run This Town (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West) – “Run This Town” is a very lyrical song with some R&B vocals. It may sound rough reading it here, but listening to the song, you will understand. “Run This Town” is easily one of the best rap songs to come out this year and the video isn’t too bad either. On the song, Jay-Z recruits his partners in crime, Kanye West and Rihanna. Each holds their own on the chorus and in their seperate verses. This song is the second single from The Blueprint 3 and has become the biggest hit in Jay-Z’s career. This is another great song off of the album, nothing to sleep on. (10/10)

5. Empire State of Mind (featuring Alicia Keys) – The song has a funky beat that is reminsicent of the music of the 1950s. Jay-Z’s flow on the song is on-point. Never has he ridden such a beat with this much confidence. Also, Alicia Keys’ chorus comes in at the perfect time. The song has the best chorus on a hip hop song in a very long time. The song is the perfect ode to the city that bore Jay-Z, along with many other stars, New York City. This song should not disappoint.  (8/10)

6. Real as It Gets (featuring Young Jeezy) – This song is where Jay-Z begins to slip a bit. The song really ruins the flow of the album, as it is not a perfect fit. The Young Jeezy intro does little to help, as it may hurt more than it does help. Still, “Real as It Gets” is better than most other songs that are being put out, it just does not fit the rest of this album. (6/10)

7. On to the Next One – This Swizz Beatz-featured track begins to pick up steam on the album. The song features a classic Swizz Beatz with a little something new added to it. It sounds like something that Jay-Z would never rap on. It may sound that way, but Jay-Z is on it and he rides the beat as it goes up and down. His flow is at a very high level that has never been seen before from Jay-Z. He has changed it up a bit for this song and it has turned out successful. (8/10)

8. Off That (featuring Drake) – Arugably, “Off That” is the best song on The Blueprint 3. The song has a futuristic beat and it features hip hop newcomer, Drake. Jay-Z handles the beat perfectly as he speeds it up to a level not seen since “Jigga What, Jigga Who.” This is a beat that people would never expect Jay-Z to rap over, but here he is. Drake also holds his own with his chorus on the song with his rap/sing style. The song is one of the most creative songs released this year and should be the album’s next single. (10/10)

9. A Star is Born (featuring J. Cole) – For “A Star is Born,” Jay-Z teams up with Roc Nation artist and Fayetteville, NC native, J. Cole. The song is extremely up-tempo and Jay-Z switches his flow to handle the beat, showing his versatility. He pays homage to his friends and enemies, alike who became stars, including Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, DMX, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, Eminem, Ja Rule, T.I., Young Jeezy, and many others. He even goes as far as to give props to his rivals, Mobb Deep, but takes a slight jab at the late Tupac Shakur. After each artist is mentioned, he claps for them on the track. At the end of the track, J. Cole comes in with an outstanding performance. Cole desribes his come-up from Fayetteville to the future of Roc Nation. (8/10)

10. Venus vs. Mars – The track stars with a dark, outer-space feel. Then, Jay-Z comes in on the Timbaland beat with a nice, smooth flow. He pays homage to his friend, the late Notorious B.I.G. The chorus is possibly a diss to 50 Cent and his song, “I Get it In.” The song has a unique beat and Jay-Z is flowing like no other. The song deals with the relationships that Jay-Z has had with various, unnamed women. It details his life as a player and is another great song on the album. (10/10)

11. Already Home (featuring Kid Cudi) – Jay-Z unites with hip hop rookie and Kanye West protege, Kid Cudi for his song, “Already Home.” Cudi is known for his sing/rap style and he brings that to the forefront with this track. The beat of the song is great, but Jay-Z slips a bit, lyrically, but he picks it back up before it becomes noticeable. He uses this song to address the haters that have piled on him since his two year hiatus. Again, this is another song that should not go unnoticed. (9/10)

12. Hate (featuring Kanye West) – Jay-Z and Kanye West reunite for a futuristic-sounding song, “Hate.” Kanye West comes in on the song with an auto-tune back ground, but his verse was all-rap and he nailed the beat. Jay-Z’s flow is chopped up and he sounds a bit like Mims in “Move (If You Wanna).” Jay even returns to his flow from “Is That Your Chick?” Once and for all, he addresses the people that have been constantly hating on him and the new haters that have jumped on his case since his release of American Gangster. (7/10)

13. Reminder – For “Reminder,” Jay-Z went a little hard core, addressing the new emcees that have taken aim at him. The song is rumored to be his answer track to all of the Joe Budden disses. It can be called whatever, but it is one of the toughest songs ever recorded by Jay-Z. He gives a “Reminder” to those who take him as an easy target. On the song, Jay lets them know that he is nothing to be messed with. Jay is comparing his legacy to that of the rappers that are challenging him. It seems that he taunts such artists as Jim Jones and Joe Budden about their frequent album push-backs. In his hey-day, Jay-Z released 8 consecutive albums, none of the rappers that are challenging Jay have accomplished that and still have a successful career now. The beat is classic, as are Jay’s lyrics. The song is not one of the best from Jay-Z, but it is worth checking out. (5/10)

14. So Ambitious (featuring Pharrell) – This track adds to the list of collaborations between Jay-Z and Pharrell. The two have a long creative history that now spans for nine years with this collaboration. The song is one of the slower songs on the album and is auto-tune influenced. Despite the slow beat, it has a nice beat with the drums in the background. The song can easily be compared to The Black Album‘s “Allure” that also featured Pharrell. This song is another great song from Pharrell and Jay-Z as Pharrell provides an outstanding hook and bridge on the song. Jay-Z masters the beat and this song can easily become the soundtrack to a day. (7/10)

15. Young Forever (featuring Mr Hudson) – The song is like the perfect ending to a day with that day being The Blueprint 3. It is the perfect exit track for an album. The song deals with the question of the progression of time. Mr Hudson’s chorus along with the beat makes you think about the future and makes you want to enjoy your right now to the fullest. Jay-Z seems to struggle, initially, but he picks it up and he successfully handles the beat. (8/10)

With The Blueprint 3, Jay-Z has shown a versatility that he has never shown before. This is Jay-Z’s best album, at almost 40 years old and 13 years deep, Jay is still the best rapper in hip hop. Of all of the new artists, Jay-Z is still the hungriest and this album proves that. The album is a slight plea for hip hop to take him back in.

To make a long story short, Jay-Z has redeemed himself from his 2006 album, Kingdom Come. His last album was also a great album, but it was typical Jay-Z, this album is experimental, like Kingdom Come, but the results were far greater. Jay-Z is back and this album proves it. At the snap of a finger, he was able to switch from gangsta, to reminiscent, to pop, to critical, to rookie, to veteran.

Never before has Jay-Z switched styles like this. All of his previous releases can be named and it can be told what the album was for. Reasonable Dobut was for the streets, Vol. 2 was for the pop charts, Vol. 3 was for the club, and so on and so forth. Bottom line, The Blueprint 3 will not be able to be classified the way his other albums have been. This album is all over the place in a good way and will go down in history as one of the best.

The Blueprint 3 gets an overall review of 10/10, a 10 star album.

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