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Jay Z - The Blueprint Despite being released on the fateful day of 11th September 2001, Jay Z's the Blueprint still managed to sell over 400,000 copies in its first week and later went on to be certified double platinum. After Jay Z's Summer Jam declaration of "ask Nas, he don't want it with Hov? No!", this album was highly anticipated as the album he would lyrically spar with the fellow New York rapper. This he did on the second track with the "Five To One" sampled "Takeover" showing Jay Z firing back at rappers and critics he felt have taken shots at him over previous years (or managed to incur his wrath some other way). The result is a highly impressive and catchy track which includes disses on Nas & Mobb Deep, but one that leaves more to be desired if compared lyrically to other diss tracks (such as Hit Em Up or the later reply from Nas, 'Ether', which take more personal shots). Many tracks on the Blueprint have much of a soul feel to them, much to the thanks of the samples used by the then unknown producer Kanye West. In addition to producing the aforementioned 'Takeover', Kanye West also produced the first single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" (Jay Z's first top ten single), the beautiful anti-playa hater song "Heart of The City (Aint No Love)", "Never Change", a track were Jay brilliant tells the story of how he's still the same boy from the hood despite the millions of dollars and the fame; and the hidden bonus track "Girls Girls Girls (remix)", much more catchy than its original (also included on the album) about how Jay Z has 'so many hoes across the globe'. Each Kanye track is brilliant in its own right, as are the tracks produced by Timbaland (Hola Hovito) and Poke & Tone (Jigga That Ni**a), but the album highlight is in the Eminem produced track 'Renegade'. Renegade is a stunning track in which Jay Z and Eminem, arguably both at the top of their rapping game at this time, go back and forth rapping and describing how they're a rare breed in that they speak their minds, they do what they wish, regardless of who it may offend. Although Nas later used this track against Jay Z by stating Eminem outshone him on his own song, Jay Z completes two excellent verses and the two rappers show chemistry only two greats can show. There are of course other excellent tracks included on this album, most notably the Just Blaze produced 'U Don't Know', a song that screams for you to get rowdy and Jay Z proclaiming "I sell ice in winter, I sell fire in hell, I am a hustler baby I sell water to a well", but also the heartfelt "Song Cry" about breaking up with a longterm girlfriend - unusual in rap, and an incredibly bold move pulled off superbly. Overall this is a stunning album that despite its release date, is remembered as one of the all time great moments in rap music. The comeback to 'Takeover' in the form of Nas' "Ether" would be a welcome addition to your ears, both in terms of it being a great song and that it is an important piece of rap history; however Jay Z's mixtape track "Super Ugly" which comes back from Ether is lyrically everything you would expect Takeover to be. If you enjoy this album and are looking to expand your knowledge of rap history, listen to these two songs after this album, but the album itself will have you coming back to it for years to come. Perfect
The Blueprint is Jay-Z's (real name Shawn Carter) sixth studio album released on September 11th, 2001. The album sold 426,000 in its first week despite the tragedy on its release date, it was Jay's 4th consecutive album to go straight to the top of the album charts in America, and has since gone platinum. Many people view this album as Jay's best work but few realise this album was produced in the studio within 2 weeks, while it only took Jay-Z a reported 2 days to write all the lyrics, helped by the fact the man has a photographic memory and doesn't need to write lyrics down, so there was bounded to be some he already had in there. An album full of perfectly picked and very soulful samples, the Blueprint would mark a shift in Jay's style to a much more melodic and thought out production, something he would return to time and time again over his career. This album earned him the rare 5 mic award from the source and XXL magazines, came 5th in Rolling Stones Albums of 2001, and 4th in NME's albums of 2001. The Album (Sample information taken from wikipedia) Track 1 - The Ruler's Back A laid back track to start the album with. Jay-Z sounds ultra relaxed on this track, rapping effortlessly but still with rhythm and style. Good track. Samples 'If' by Jackie Moore 'The Ruler's Back' by Slick Rick 8/10 Track 2 - Takeover An mix of two of my favourite artists of all time - Jay-Z and Jim Morrison/The Doors., as the beats are mainly taken from '5 to 1' by the Doors. Kanye West produced this one (way before he was a platinum selling artist in his own right), I've always liked Kanye's production, he takes chances with his beats and I applaud him for that. The track is mainly a diss song taking shots at Nas, Prodigy of Mobb Deep among others. The lyrics are excellent in this one, it makes me wonder why someone like Prodigy would try and beef with someone so talented. Samples 'Five to One' by The Doors 'Sound of da Police' by KRS-One 'Fame' by David Bowie (interpolation) 'Oochie Wally' by Bravehearts Choice lines I don't care if you Mobb Deep, I hold triggers to crews You little f*ck, I've got money stacks bigger than you Youse the fag model for Karl Kani/Esco ads Went from, Nasty Nas to Esco's trash Had a spark when you started but now you're just garbage Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all to your bodyguard's "Oochie Wally" verse better than yours Matter fact you had the worst flow on the whole f*ckin song but I know - the sun don't shine, then son don't shine You said you been in this ten I've been in it five - smarten up Nas Four albums in ten years nigga? I can divide That's one every let's say two, two of them sh*ts was due One was - NAHHH, the other was "Illmatic" That's a one hot album every ten year average And that's so - LAAAAAAAME! Nigga switch up your flow Your sh*t is garbage, but you try and kick knowledge? 10/10 Track 3 - Izzo (H.O.V.A.) One of the more well known tracks on here, one he performed brilliantly at Glastonbury, and the next one to be produced by Kanye. This track was made to be the first single from the album and you can tell, it's bouncy, has an easy to remember and sing chorus, and is quite mainstream friendly in many respects. I do like this one. Sample 'I Want You Back' by Jackson 5 8/10 Track 4 - Girls, Girls, Girls additional vocals from Q-Tip, Slick Rick and Biz Markie A slow, laid back song about how much Jay loves girls (surprise, surprise) with great production from Just Blaze. This was the second single and has many of the same qualities as the last track. The raps are basically about the different girls Jay has all over the world. Samples 'There's Nothing in This World That Can Stop Me from Loving You' by Tom Brock 'High Power Rap' by Disco Dave & The Force of The Five MC's 8/10 Track 5 - Jigga That Nigga This track was the 3rd single which surprised me as its not the best track on here by a long way, but I guess like the other singles its got a catchy chorus, is bouncy, and is radio friendly (sort of), but I'm not keen. Production in this one is from Poke and Tone. 6/10 Track 6 - U Don't Know An ok track produced by Just Blaze. The lyrics are decent and there's a really nice beat, love the distorted voices. Jay's raps are excellent in this one. Samples 'I'm Not To Blame' by Bobby Byrd 7/10 Track 7 - Hola' Hovito additional vocals and production by Timbaland A fantastic beat, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album, and one of my favourites to have on in the car. A great mix of different sounds in this one (a mark of Timbaland's production), while Jay raps with his unmistakable flow and grace. Love the chorus, love the verses, love this song. Choice lines Catch Hov' in the drop, nasty thang lane switchin Once you turn your neck for a sec your dame's missin Bujando, bujando, the cops is comin Got that rap patrol behind yo, get to runnin I'm unstoppable Hov', untoppable flows I'm the compadre, the Sinatra of my day Ol' Blue Eyes my nigga, I did it my way If y'all not rollin with Hov' then hit the highway 10/0 Track 8 - Heart of the City (Ain't No Love) People may remember this track from the advert for the brilliant movie 'American Gangster', or Jay rapping this over U2's 'Bloody Sunday' track at Glastonbury. Another great song with Jay rapping about how times are changing but people are still jealous of him and how people around him are falling from the public eye but he's not. Nice laid back track in a contrast to what Jay's saying, it's no surprise Kanye West produced this one. Samples 'Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City' by Bobby Blue Bland Choice lines Look scrapper I got nephews to look after I'm not looking at you dudes, I'm looking past you I thought I told you characters I'm not a rapper Can I live? I told you in ninety-six that I came to take this sh*t and I did, handle my biz I scramble like Randall with his Cunningham but the only thing running is numbers fam Jigga held you down six summers; damn, where's the love? 10/10 Track 9 - Never Change additional vocals from Kanye West Laid back track produced by Kanye, basically about whatever happens Jay-Z won't change (yeah right lol). It's a nice track to listen to, very easy on the ears but there's better on here. Sample 'Common Man' by David Ruffin 7/10 Track 10 - Song Cry About the closest to a love song you'll ever get in rap music, this track was produced by Just Blaze. Jay's rapping about a relationship he's in. Decent track with top music. Sample 'Sounds Like a Love Song' by Bobby Glenn 7/10 Track 11 - All I Need The worst track on here by far, I really can't stand this one, the beats are average at best and badly paced, while even Jay's raps cant save this one. Samples 'I Can't Break Away' by Natalie Cole 4/10 Track 12 - Renegade featuring and produced by Eminem I'll start of by saying I'm not the biggest Eminem fan in the world, he does make good music but it's pretty much pop-rap these days, give me the Infinite album or the Slim Shady LP and EP any day over his later stuff. Jay-Z and Eminem are two of the true rap greats when it comes to sales and popularity, possibly both being in the top 5 ever, while both have fantastic skills for both making songs and freestyling so a track with them both on was always going to be interesting. Jay starts the song of with a great rap but once Eminem takes the mic he completely out does Jay from start to finish which is no easy achievement, Nas even mentioned it on his tracks 'Stillmactic' and 'Ether'. Like I said I'm not a massive Eminem fan but he's truly brilliant o this track, plus his production is fantastic. Choice lines (all Eminem) See I'm a poet to some, a regular modern day Shakespeare Jesus Christ the King of these Latter Day Saints here To shatter the picture in which of that as they paint me as a monger of hate and Satan a scatter-brained atheist But that ain't the case, see it's a matter of taste We as a people decide if Shady's as bad as they say he is Or is he the latter - a gateway to escape? Media scapegoat, who they can be mad at today See it's easy as cake, simple as whistlin Dixie while I'm wavin the pistol at sixty Christians against me Go to war with the Mormons, take a bath with the Catholics in holy water - no wonder they try to hold me under longer I'm a motherf*ckin spiteful, DELIGHTFUL eyeful The new Ice Cube - motherf*ckers HATE to like you What did I do? (huh?) I'm just a kid from the gutter makin this butter off these bloodsuckers, cause I'm a muh'f*ckin Renagade! 10/10 Track 13 - Blueprint (Momma Loves Me) This track samples heavily from the great Al Green's 'Free at Last' track, and I love it. Easily the best of the laid back songs on here, this is really one to put on and kick back and relax to. Sample Free at Last" by Al Green 9/10 The track has a small break of silence then goes into a great freesyling session, with a Just Blaze produced beat that has been used by rappers countless times on mix tapes, I personnaly have at least 10 different tracks with people rapping over this beat. Sample Got to Find My Own Place" by Stanley Clarke 8/10 The same track then flows into a remix of 'Girls, girls, Girls', this time with new production by Kanye, the music is totally different to the original, its not bad but not so good either. Sample Trying Girls Out" by The Persuaders 6/10 Overall a 9/10 from me, one of Jay-Z's best albums, with only maybe Reasonable Doubt being better. I would recommend this for nearly everyone unless rap music offends you. Further reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blueprint http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay-Z www.jay-z.com Buy the album for a bargain £5.48 at - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blueprint-Jay-Z/dp/B00005O54T
After the sophomore release of Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z promised much to hip hop fans everywhere, he showed that even with minimalist production, his introspective lyrics and inspired path of thought were qualities which promoted him to a very high emcee status indeed. The release of the Blueprint is Jay-Z trying to return to his roots, the question is does he succeed? Surprisingly, on the Blueprint, Jay-Z decides to take a soulful approach to the Blueprint; with tracks such as Never Change and Song Cry the artist shows that despite the fact that producers have given him unfamiliar beats, his flow can ride any beat. The result is an album, which is honest, lyrically brilliant and sees the artist producing the best work since the release of Reasonable Doubt. Unfortunately fans of the artists more recent work such as Can I Get A?. and Big Pimpin' will find it difficult to listen to the album. Although there are still some tracks where Jay-Z returns to his mainstream integrity such as Izzo (H.O.V.A), the closest thing these fans will get to a dance anthem is Girls, Girls, Girls Beat wise; this album sees the Brooklyn rapper taking a soulful approach to his instrumentals. This is reminiscent of Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt production and although the fact that the artist does not have piano fuelled backing, the fact that he has traded in his promo radio edits for something a little deeper and thought provoking sees the return of the Jay-Z which matched the rhyming talents of the Notorious B.I.G in a track called Brooklyn's Finest. But do not misunderstand, there are certain tracks on the album which see the rapper once experimenting as he did in Reasonable Doubt when it comes to mixing up - tempo beats while still retaining a conscious style of street poetry. The result is Jigga The N*gga and Renegade. Although Renegade is must more of a darker sound with Eminem providing a well instrumented chorus and ve rse, Jigga That N*gga is more concentrated on a club-ish sound, but I don't want to stay with that idea because the lyrics are much more authentic than the careless lyrics one usually finds on a Jay-Z club anthem The album contains an important track called The Takeover, in this Jay-Z attacks Nas, a rapper who has recently fired the flames of their argument after he claimed that Jay- Z thought he was the King Of New York but really isn't. The track is nicely produced and you can even find a remix with the soulful roots of the internet, but the fact that the song is more to attack than entertain is a downside because although in the first few listens it get the juices flowing in the listener wondering how Nas will respond, but now that the argument has concluded, one wishes that he had used the space more creatively than aggressively. The Blueprint album is one of contrast, yes there are the soulful introspective lyrics we expected from the star when he released Reasonable Doubt but there are also the mainstream tracks, which we can hear just edging through on the radar. Eminem in a song called the Renegade gives and outstanding performance, the best I have ever seen from the artist and it is the duet of the year. In conclusion the Blueprint has definitely put to rests any claims that Jay-Z had lost all his creative prowess. Here Are The Tracks 1. The Ruler's Back 2. Takeover 3. Izzo (H.O.V.A.) 4. Girls, Girls, Girls 5. Jigga That N____ 6. U Don't Know 7. Hola' Hovito 8. Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love) 9. Never Change 10. Song Cry 11. All I Need 12. Renagade 13. Blueprint (Momma Loves Me) [14. Lyrical Excersise] [15. Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix)]
Jay Z over the years has become caught up in the commercial side of hip-hop and this is clear in recent albums; In My Life Time and The Life And Times Of S.Carter. It was the explosion and media interest surrounding the young artist after the release of his best and first debut album Reasonable Doubt that started the interest in Jay Z amongst hip hop fanatics. In Reasonable Doubt we saw a young honest rapper, passionate about rapping and desperate to make it into the game. Reasonable Doubt brought the best out of Jay Z and after the album and the releases that soon followed, it felt as if Jay Z had lost his touch and run out of ideas, but this is contrary to the truth. While writing songs and lyrics for big names in the industry such as Dr Dre and featuring amongst other artists like Mariah Carey; it appears that Jay Z has been working on a project, which he calls The Blueprint. Within this album Jay Z returns thankfully to his hip hop roots and conventional fans of Jay Z will really appreciate this album. The one feature on this album is excellent, Eminem’s delivery on the track Renegade is automatic, skilful and well inspired by Jay Z. Eminem clearly does what he says in the lyrics and puts the critics to shame on this one. With all the controversy surrounding the young artist it is surprising that his work has not been affected and this is great news for Jay Z because the two are almost identical on this track. You can tell that the collaboration was well revised and researched because their voices and rhyming patterns appear to imply that they have the same hip-hop foundations. The track has beats that are mostly fuelled by the violin that slowly fades away into the background to let the rappers impress. This is in contrast to Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt in which the piano was used as a strong instrument to encourage and inspire Jay Z. This was cleverly done but in this album Jay Z takes a more soulful approach. The album is slightly self ish in that context because it feels as though Jay Z wants to fully establish himself and only himself. In Reasonable Doubt Jay Z brought his man The Notorious B.I.G through in an outstanding track called Brooklyn’s Finest. Thankfully the album is not littered with pointless and monotonous skits as are many hip hop albums these days and this is very disappointing and depressing that artists feel the need to make up numbers with corny and sometimes abusive interludes. Jay Z strays from this dangerous trail and doesn’t even employ one interlude. The album is Jay Z front to back and that it what the buyer paid for. Shaun Carter alias Jay Z does the production on all these songs alongside various collaborations but the soulful approach that Jay Z has decided to adopt pays off and his well thought out lyrics smoothly interlink with the soft instrumentals and complex background tunes. Songs such as the mid-tempo Never Change, similar in approach and theory to the infamous Changes by Tupac Shakur prove that Jay Z has a wide range of rapping styles and techniques. The bridge in the track contains a sample from David Ruffin’s Common Man. For those that don’t know who David Ruffin is he has a soulful voice almost that of James Brown. Although the album is not yet on par with Reasonable Doubt and the Jay Z that we saw there, it is the closest that fans of his fantastic debut album with get. It is untrue to imply that people that enjoyed his previous two albums will despise The Blueprint because it does contain something for them too. Songs such as Jigga That N**** similar to Ain’t No N**** on Reasonable Doubt and Izzo (H.O.V.A) have more up-tempo beats to them and will be appreciated by that target audience especially those that loved the Jay Z's anthem for 2000 Big Pimpin'. Jay Z certainly hurls out the abuse on this album. On Takeover the second single on the album Jay Z literally insul ts Nas and rappers that have failed to maintain standards that there first albums implied and anyone who denies that Jay Z is the closest to The Notorious B.I.G in the rap game at the moment. The Queens bridge/ Jay Z feud are brought to light on this track. This was surprising to me because both Nas and Jay Z have had similar approaches to their careers. They both started off with excellent albums Nas with Illmatic and Jay Z with Reasonable Doubt; but then they were caught up in the commercial side of rap of the successors to their debut albums were disappointing but now with the release of The Blueprint and Nas’ Stillmatic it appears that the artists want to return to their hip hop beginnings and achieve the same success their debut album promised. The songs that Jay Z has decided to release from The Blueprint; Izzo (H.O.V.A) and Girls, Girls, Girls provide the spectrum of the album. From the almost club track Jigga That N**** to the soulful Song Cry and Heart Of The City Jay Z proves that he has developed into a well rounded hip hop artist. This album is excellent. It is Jay Z at his best and fans of Reasonable Doubt will definitely love the LP. Fans of his latest work will also appreciate what Jay Z has done with the album too. Here are the tracks available on the album: 1. The Ruler's Back (9/10 - Nice CD introduction) 2. Takeover (10/10 - Abuse cleverly executed) 3. Izzo (H.O.V.A.) (8/10 - Nice beats and lyrical content) 4. Girls, Girls, Girls (9/10 - Beautiful backing vocals make the song) 5. Jigga That N***a (10/10 - Almost club like track but watered down to hip hop perfection) 6. U Don't Know (8/10 - Good lyrics and great execution) 7. Hola' Hovito (9/10 -Jay Z's anthem) 8. Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love) (10/10 Great beats) 9. Never Change (10/10 soulful introspective lyrics) 10. Song Cry (9/10 - Nice track) 11. All I Need (10/10 - Similar in rap style to 2Pac's Me And My Girlfriend on the Makaveli album) 12. Renagade (10/10 - Excellent rap delivery from Eminem) 13. Blueprint (Momma Loves Me) (10/10 - The Blueprint, Shaun Carter's life)
Jay Z/Hova/Jigga (call the egnius what you will...a rose by any other name...)procolomates at the commencement of this album, his 5th offering(Reasonablwe Doubt, In My Lifetime, Hard Knock Life, Life & Times.., and Dynasty precceding this)that the Ruler is back..and it seems such is very much the case. The Album starts as it means and succeeds in going on; wonderfullly expressed rymes over perfectly choosen soul samples. This is Jay Z in his very essence. The Takeover, the track which continues the confrontation with QueensBride rapper Nasir 'Nas exsobar' Jones does what it sets out to, to put so called occupiers of the hip hop crown in thier place...this position is Jay'z ...period. Other tracks which stand out (damn the whole album stands out but hey...)are 'Song Cry','Izzo', 'Jigga that Ni**a',, Heartt of the City...and so forth..just go and buy it..and when you fall in ,klolobve with tjhe album..just emailm me and asay thnaks...
In theory, at least, 'The Blueprint' should be rubbish..... I mean how many artists make their most exciting and consistent album this far into their career? The answer is not very many. However, Jay-Z has managed to forge something of a hip-pop masterpiece, making 'The Blueprint' - if not highly innovative - very enjoyable. Many hip-hop albums recently have been trying to push the genre into the future, by putting weird spins on the sound. Outkast took the sounds of Prince and George Clinton, updated for the year 2030, and made one of the best albums of last year. On the more underground side, this year has seen albums from the likes of Cannibal Ox, meshing electro and hip-hop together to form a totally new sound. However, Jay-Z don't want to push musical boundaries aside. No, the man with easily the biggest lips in entertainment want to make lots and lots of money. He does have lots of money already, but my God does he want more of the stuff. This is why 'The Blueprint' is so commercial. It has an almost blinding pop surface. Soul samples, big beats....that's it. Even Timbaland, usually famed for his experimentation, turns in a conservative, straight four-four beat. The most obvious two things about the way it differs from most obvious hip-hop albums, is that it only has a succint 13 tracks, and features very few cameos, Eminem excepted of course. This is what makes 'The Blueprint' such a winner.....unlike Jay-Z himself, the album is totally flab-free. Not one bad track. This is a vast difference from last year's sporadically brilliant 'The Dynasty: Roc la Familia', which featured so many guests that I think my nan was the only person I can think of who didn't take up the mic on it. That album was also pretty inconsistent, and though its best moments rise above those on 'The Blueprint' (notably 'I Just Wanna Love U (Give it to Me)'), it just doesn't work quite so well as a whole album. The album kicks off with 'The Ruler's Back' which sets the tone for the album perfectly. The basic message is 'My name is Jay-Z...I'm very good at everything, particularly making money....I am more successful than you...I have more women, money, drugs and record sales....and I'm harder than you as well.' Pretty much every track follows this pattern, though each one varies on what emphasis he wants to lay down. On 'Girls, Girls, Girls' its pretty obvious what he's bragging about primarily etc. What becomes apparent very quickly is, despite the fact that Jay-Z is bragging about the same rap cliches as everyone else......he does it in such an arresting manner. Each line is brilliantly timed and perfectly executed...cutting through cliches with such deft lyrical wit, you realise how much crap some bands sing. 'I'm too sexy for jail, like I'm Right Said Fred' is a great line, as is 'we've got so much coke you could run a slalom'. 'Takeover', the album's second track, is perhaps its highlight, and definitely the rawest. It thumps along on a distorted bass riff, sounding a great deal like a Hendrix song and Jay-Z then cusses Mobb Deep and Nas very hard. Despite the fact that it amounts to little more than playground name-calling, it is very funny. Jay-Z delivers lines such as 'You little f@ck I got money stacks bigger than you' and you start to think 'yeah....come one...did you hear that?...he's so cool'. He tells Nas that he can't rap for shit and then tells everyone else who has cussed him that they are only worth half a bar. Its all very convincing and you feel like you just can't argue with the man. 'Izzo H.O.V.A' amazingly manages to sample the Jackson 5's 'I Want You Back'without sounding cheesy. It sets out the story of his life and the clean, poppy production suddenly becomes glaringly obvious ne xt to the stories of selling crack to survive, and the trials of life in the ghetto. It's a great song, but you'll grow tired of it quickly because of its catchiness. 'Girls, Girls, Girls' tells us how many women Jay-Z has in every category possible.... an air hostess, Indian, black, young, Chinese (who apparently he has to dump because she keeps bootlegging his 'shit') and many many more. I suspect him to be telling the truth and therefore I am very jealous. Quotes from Eddie Murphy 'Raw', references to the 'Mile high club', spill over each other. I think you'll get the point of the song by now, but if you haven't Jay-Z loves 'girls, girls, girls, girls....girls all over the world'. He's not gay O.K. Other highlights are so numrous its difficult to pick them out....the Timbaland produced 'Hola Hovito' is a great celebratory track reminiscent a little of a more upbeat 'Still D.R.E.'. 'Heart of the City' expels the grim underbely of 'New York' around a sample that says 'A'int no love in the heart of the city...there a'int no love in the heart of the town'. This perhaps explains Jay-Z's cold, materialitic character and he even freely admits that he is too tough to show his emotions and therefore has to 'let the song cry' for him at the loss of his girlfriend ('Song Cry'). 'Never Change' explains that Jay-Z was brought up on crime and will never change.....it adds kudos to his ryhmes that he's 'Still f@cking with crime coz crime pays'. 'Renegade' features a guest spot from Eminem, where they both have a good winge about how people attack them because they're famous and the best rappers...despite the fact that Eminem always raps about this now, he turns in a sinister and convincing spot and also his production of the song, though not great shows that with time, he could be a contender in this ca tegory too...its all spooky strings and theremin noises. 'The Blueprint' won't change your life....but it will make it more enjoyable for its brief duration. Though some will find it far too mainstream, if you ignore this and let Jay-Z's lyrics and delivery do all the work, you're looking at possibly the best hip-hop album this year. Old fashion values seemeed to have paid off for Jigga and you have to give him credit for being such a success. In his own words 'you're now looking at one smart black boy'.
Within the last few days I have considerably changed my opinion on this album. Too much listenening to this album can cause serious change in feelings toward this album. On his remarkable 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z entered the rap game delivering corner-hustler metaphors and silver-tongued wit that left speed knots on the brains of the uninitiated. Jay has long since measured his flow, making his lyrics more accessible and his hooks as infectious as the clap at a chickenhead convention. The result? Multi-platinum record sales and TRL rotation. On The Blueprint, his sixth album, Jay sets out to prove that nary a couplet of verbal ingenuity has been compromised as he’s catapulted from Brooklyn rap bandit to Cristal-swilling, Hamptons-chilling, Grammy-winning hip hop top gun. The Blueprint is just that— a sample-heavy sonic scaffold, a rhymed schematic that outlines Jay’s Midas touch to date. Without cameos from his Roc La Familia, Jigga has made the solo album that comes closest to duplicating the autobiographical flows of his first disc. Where RD’s crack game to rap game tales coursed with the conflicted emotions of a hustler gone straight, the dilemma Jay now faces is the potential of a hustler-turned-rapper going soft from stardom. But he quells any such rumors, dissing Nas and Prodigy of Mobb Deep over the electro-buzz beat-stomp of “Takeover” and trading rap as outlaw art rhymes with Eminem on “Renegade.” Jay’s confidence reaches epic proportions on “Hola Hovito”. Over looped guitar riffs on the Timbaland-produced hell-raiser, Jay boasts: “If you haven’t heard I’m Michael, Magic, and Bird all rolled in one… And if I ain’t better than B.I.G., I’m the closest one.” You almost have to give it to him; the aforementioned head-ringers come as easily as sure-fire hits. The catchy, yet marginally inventive, “Izzo (H.O.V.A. )” samples the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and overflows with radio-friendly effervescence. The next single, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” lifts some sweeping ‘70s soul as Jay cleverly professes his insatiable appetite for all stripes of women. It’s good to be the king. So far I have only mentioned the good tracks and I feel that they do not rule the album, this time around many 'poor' joints cramp Jay's style.This album represents a landmark in Jay's career. Unfortunately it is where it faults, this Jay's seventh album is just too much. I and I'm sure many others thought the sudden rush of albums was just due to Jay's inexperience. But, it never stopped and Jay hasn't taken time to stop and really make sure his albums are great. Artists like DMX and Ja Rule have done this and they've produced albums with very little fault. At the moment Jay Is getting about 5 tracks out of 13 and this, for a mainstream hip hop artist, is simply not good enough. Some tracks are dull and lack any rhythm and Jay doesn't hit the spot. He no longer sounds unique and too many of his songs lead onto a similar beat with Jay rhyming in a droaning style which can basically only be described as boring! But ultimately Jay attempts to ground his damn-I’m-fly exuberance with potent, self-conscious flows. The mournful “Song Cry” and the poignant title track, sentimental counterpoints to the hardcore aphorisms, at first may seem difficult to swallow. However, Jay’s honesty and confessional tone elevate his tales of urban survival beyond mere rap star bluster. Half a decade later, you can only just begin to knock his hustle!
Where do I start? When I first bought Jay-Z "The Blueprint" I was harbouring mixed opinions about it. I had heard the smooth beats and infectious lyrics of the flagship track "Izzo (H.O.V.A)" and I was very impressed. I had previously been reserved on my feelings about Jay-Z, thinking he made one or possibly two good songs per album, but the Blueprint, I am happy to say, proved me wrong. When I returned home and put it in the C.D player, turned the bass up, I was blown away by crisp rapping, addictive beats and distinctive sounds from the leading rap superstar. Jay-Z, in my view, has blown the game away, even holding off the latest DMX smash, "The Great Depression". Most rap fans will be choosing between these two hip hop deities this month, but I feel there is a clear winner, Jay-Z. From Izzo to Hola' Hovito and Heart of the City to the Eminem collaboration Renegade to finally the end title song, Blueprint which depicts the life of Sean Carter, are all quality tracks, which will have your foots tapping and heads bopping I'm sure. A must-have, smash hit!
The Hova craft glides once more back into the slipstream of success as the fast-becoming prolific Jiggaman drops another self-backslapping slice of calculated crossover. Jay-Z’s sixth solo selection stands for everything hip hop has become. The Blueprint is littered with heavyweight disses towards rivals, doesn’t shirk from calling the female tune, charts the familiar rise of a wide-eyed youth selling drugs to survive the projects before reaping materialistic benefits along the well-stocked lines of Cristal and 20-inch rims. Which realistically is what Jay-Z has bragged about for the last five long-players. The Blueprint is no different. Sean Carter has perfected the art of bridging the ever-discussed gap between the marketable and the more mean-spirited. How is he really seen though by his listeners? Because in all honesty, its difficult to comprehend that some of hip hop’s most barnstorming battles in the vein of Ain’t No Playa and Brooklyn’s Finest could be constructed by someone as adept at producing tracks as, if you like, corny, as Sunshine and The City Is Mine. The Blueprint comes with the sliced-bread theorists once more claiming they’ve stumbled upon gold and sways towards the latter without ever hinting at the former whatsoever. Pompous production, at times lazy rhyme schemes and incessant braggadocio soon become very tiring and leave you wondering what this is supposedly a Blueprint for. If it’s intended as a baby aid to see how quickly they can reach the land of nod, then it will sell shedloads. In fact, it will do just that anyway, because this is Jay-Z, king of the street, top of the charts, 5-mic recipient, rags-to-riches Roc-a-Fella, etc etc. The Blueprint peaks midway through proceedings but is a disheartening experience all told. Anyone who delves beyond the rash of faceless songstresses and crooners looped to mask the obvious idleness will soon realize the hackneyed horrors bound to have heads scraping the sleep from their eyes. The lead single for instance; 1220 HOVA, apart from seemingly making up words for the sheer fun of it, just stinks of the billboard, pure and simple. Motown strings, a break that does nothing fast, it’s Jay-Z at his most greedy, because you know by attacking the charts this particular rap-lite nugget will shift big-time units. Never Change is more a soundtrack to something you’d find at a long-lost reunion as one of Z’s emotionally tortured crooners pitifully weeps into his microphone, presumably about the quality of some of Jay’s rhymes; ‘we get paper longer than Pippen’s arms’? I’m not sure which is worse, comparing Scottie’s limb span to cash money or the fact the hook of ‘still fucking with crime cos crime pays’ desperately tries to convince this isn’t as big a pile of utter soppiness as it really is. Song Cry follows with more of the same, supposedly a tear-jerker, more likely to be labelled as jerking something else in spite of some better conceptual lyrics of Jay at his most vulnerable when in the midst of splitting from a girl. ‘I know you love me like cooked food’ states the man. Thing is, most do, and most will love what is essentially an acapella so lazy it just screams out for a kick up the backside. The much vaunted lyrical lashing against Prodigy and Nas on Takeover shouldn’t have the Queensbridge pair lacking too much shut-eye in light of a gnarly electric guitar lead being paired with some peculiarly quirky harpsichord keys that try to put a foot down but slip over instead of stomp. Impersonating a bloated David Bowie midway through is also never a method of retrieving a lost cause. But then again, Jay-Z sampled the Oliver soundtrack and went stellar, such is the inestimable nature of the boasts, no matter how brittle the back-up. Jigga That Nigga scratches the surface of Jay-Z’s other attitude to hip ho p with a shiny-suit dancefloor shimmy possessing a Timbaland-style Eastern Promise undertone and a terrible female hook to at least inject a smattering of real style. U Don’t Know is Jigga in his element, one of those belting skyscraper-high attitude, ‘king of the street’-style pumpers with vocals upholding convincing contempt with a slight decrease in pace to let the metaphors really ring around the dome. ‘I’d sell ice in the winter, I’d sell fire in hell, I’m a hustler baby, I’d sell water to a well’ – you can’t beat it. Bang up to form, and featuring more than just a hint of Foxy Brown’s Oh Yeah to it, Hola Hovito strums its way into the club with brasses and keys tagging along for a pretty polished demonstration of status-setting (‘…if I ain’t better than BIG I’m the closest one’). Yet the fires within the belly are quickly dulled; Eminem’s magnificent delivery on Renegade is the only saving grace of an otherwise excessively dull excursion into trying to explain why the world converges on the much put-upon Carter. Attempting the dense and dark ends up as a slow-burning amble into the snoozeworthy, quickly replicated on the title track so tiresome and insipid the air will quickly turn the same colour as the supposed plan. So it fiercely disses two of rap’s most unforgiving, has been touted as The Source’s saviour and comes at a time when Jay-Z could be scanning sales from behind bars. The Blueprint though is nowhere near the amount of hype excited Jigga fans and journos have stoked this up with. Hova’s confidence on relying on old tricks and tried-and-tested output should backfire on him, but it’s impossible to say that, infuriatingly, this won’t seriously sell. While The Blueprint is far from revolutionary and threatens to descend into the contemptible territory of being Z’s, if not this years, weakest release, at the end of the day Hova is still the man with the plan…
Jigga couldn't wait. With a hot new album that was being widely bootlegged by street vendors and on the internet, Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter took a rare step for a rap artist -- he pushed UP an album release date. Usually when drop dates are changed they are inexplicably pushed back either for weeks or for months; and in some ill-fated cases (such as Cormega's "Testament") they never come out at all. Jay's decision undoubtedly pleased millions of his fans, and like them I eagerly waited for the stroke of midnight on September 11th to purchase his newest magnum opus - a tome he titled "The Blueprint" to show us the architecture of his master plan to run rap. Listening to this album that night, I was immediately struck by the high-quality of the musical production - some of Jigga's best tracks to date. Beats by Kanye West, Bink, Just Blaze, Timbaland and even Eminem of all people rang with authority. I was also struck by the viciousness of Jay-Z's response to Nas on the song "Takeover." For those who don't know or hadn't heard, Nas called Jay "h to the izzo, m to the izzo" (read H-O-M-O) on a widely dubbed and distributed diss freestyled to the beat of Eric B. & Rakim's classic "Paid in Full" remix. Jigga pulled no punches in his reply, and I found myself enjoying the thunderous beat and wryly comedic jabs he threw while slyly referencing a well known David Bowie song: "I know you missin all the - FAAAAAAAME! But along with celebrity comes bout seventy shots to your brain Nigga; you a - LAAAAAAAME! Youse the fag model for Karl Kani/Esco ads Went from, Nasty Nas to Esco's trash Had a spark when you started but now you're just garbage Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all to your bodyguard's 'Oochie Wally' verse better than yours Matter fact you had the worst flow on the whole fuckin song but I know - th e sun don't shine, then son don't shine That's why your - LAAAAAAAME!" As I listened to the album, I also appreciated how unlike his previous "Dynasty" LP this album was almost entirely Jay-Hova going for dolo. Even though Q-Tip, Slick Rick, and Biz Markie all appear on "Girls, Girls, Girls" they only provide the chorus. The only real shine time any rapper shares with Jay is Eminem on the song he produced, "Renagade." (Yes, they spelled it wrong on the album - don't bitch at me.) Track after track of Jay's delf show the highest caliber quality: the bouncy español party anthem "Hola' Hovito", the smoothly nostalgic "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)", and somber track "Song Cry." A wack song on this album? None that I could find. A few that may be just average - most notably the poorly titled "Jigga That Nigga" - but none of the "Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life" variety that cause you to constantly skip tracks. In fact, the album is a solid listen from start to finish - in no way dissapointing to any fan of anthemic East coast rap or Jay's professional flow. Unfortunately, the tragic events of September 11th render this album's pushed up release date totally meaningless. In the words of one of his own hit songs, "Jigga what? Jigga who?" I doubt many people were thinking about this album Tuesday morning, and even now a lot of people who were planning to go to stores to purchase it may have yet to cop this CD. This reviewer has no compunction about giving it an unqualified thumbs up and saying it's worth the $12-$15 you'd spend - except that right now it seems so trivial to be buying new albums at all. If there's an upside to the unfortunate timing of his new LP's release, it may be that people who do purchase it this week will have something to listen to that will take their minds off the horrific site of New York's skyline being resculpted and thousands of innocent people losing their lives there and elsewhere. Maybe.
Here I'll attempt to talk you through the latest offering from Sean Carter aka Jay-Z aka Jigga aka Jay Hova 1: The Ruler’s Back: This is a melodic 70’s soul/funk driven track in which the “Jigga man” flosses about.... well ... being the jigga man! Smooth Bongo drum, horn & string arrangements makes for a wicked retro 70’s style cut that rolls along nicely with a teasing bassline. 2: The Take-over: This is one of those hip-hop dis tracks ala “Hit ‘em up”, in which Jay-Z takes it (lyrically) to the heads of both Nas & Prodigy (Mobb Deep). The bass line is a gritty almost rock like riff & has a percussive back drop which also includes some sporadic piano licks & a solo guitar weaving in & out of the mix. The hook is cleverly borrowed from the “Five to one” by the doors. 3: Izzo (H.O.V.A.): “H to the Izzo V to the Izzay, ...” This cut superbly uses a loop from the Jackson 5’s “I want you back”, wickedly funky & almost pop like, but I like it!. 4: Girls, Girls, Girls: Jay has a late “Tamla-Motown” type soul driven groove rolling in the back as he flows about... ? You work it out! A wicked cut to bounce next summer when you’re at home lounging or driving around. 5: Jigga That N***a: Funk, Funk & Mo’ Funk! Jigga gets straight braggadocios, Don King style, over a track that has a sneaky “Neptunes” sound to it, totally butter smooth, a definite hip hop club smash... I can see the champagne spilling now!. 6: U Don’t Know: By now you’ll have got the feel of the album, Jay’s taken it back to the old!. 6 cuts deep & he still ain’t finished braggin’ yet, more soul/funk grooves, speeded up vocal sample used for the hook ala Wu-Tang Clan, it’s all to the good though!. 7: Hola Hovito: Timbaland gets behind the boards to supply the beats on this bangin’ track, percussion to make you sick with a guitar riff to boot, man I gotta memorise the lyrics, this track is cold 8: Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love): Jay-Z raps about the problems of holdin’ too much paper (being too rich), wicked 70’s soul/funk once again, I almost feel like I’m watching “Uptown Saturday Night” with Bill Cosby & Sydney Poitier. 9: Never Change: Almost like a follow on from the previous cut, Jay states that he will never change, regardless of the cheddar he has or how successful he becomes, still gritty! Uses a sample of David Ruffin’s “Common Man”, sounds very Marvin Gaye. 10: Song Cry: Jay spits an open letter over a beautifully soulful cut to one of his homies “I can’t see ‘em coming down my eyes, so I gotta make the song cry”, the hook says it all!. 11: All I Need: Superb! Wicked bongo driven percussion, Jay’s got me calling for the weekend, this will most definitely be on heavy rotation in my ride, the bass line is punchy & teasing, the horns are spine tingling, the vocal loop haunting, backing vocals soothing, uh uh uh! 12: Renegade (Feat. Eminem): Don’t expect any mind splitting flows here, this is a deeply meaningful track with a hauntingly addictive musical arrangement. Both MC’s flow at a steady pace but you’ll still find yourself latching onto every word as the wax about how they are perceived by those who choose to ignore the message in their music or judge without listening. 13: Blueprint (Momma Loves Me): Jay pays homage to his mom as others who played a part in making him the man he is, very simplistic musical arrangement here, Rhodes type keyboard licks & subtle percussion. The blue print, for me , is Jay-Z’s finest hours sine “Reasonable Doubt”, yes he has come on leaps & bounds lyrically since then on his other efforts but here somehow you feel yo u can feel the honesty in his lyrics. UPDATE: If you allow track 13 to play out you will find there are bonus tracks at the end of the album which are not listed, including a remix of "Girls, Girls, Girls". All bonus tracks are part of track 13 on the disc so you cannot skip to them individually.
On his remarkable 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z entered the rap game delivering corner-hustler metaphors and silver-tongued wit that left speed knots on the brains of the uninitiated. Jay has long since measured his flow, making his lyrics more accessible and his hooks as infectious as the clap at a chickenhead convention. The result? Multi-platinum record sales and TRL rotation. On The Blueprint, his sixth album, Jay sets out to prove that nary a couplet of verbal ingenuity has been compromised as he’s catapulted from Brooklyn rap bandit to Cristal-swilling, Hamptons-chilling, Grammy-winning hip hop top gun. The Blueprint is just that— a sample-heavy sonic scaffold, a rhymed schematic that outlines Jay’s Midas touch to date. Without cameos from his Roc La Familia, Jigga has made the solo album that comes closest to duplicating the autobiographical flows of his first disc. Where RD’s crack game to rap game tales coursed with the conflicted emotions of a hustler gone straight, the dilemma Jay now faces is the potential of a hustler-turned-rapper going soft from stardom. But he quells any such rumors, dissing Nas and Prodigy of Mobb Deep over the electro-buzz beat-stomp of “Takeover” and trading rap as outlaw art rhymes with Eminem on “Renegade.” Jay’s confidence reaches epic proportions on “Hola Hovito”. Over looped guitar riffs on the Timbaland-produced hell-raiser, Jay boasts: “If you haven’t heard I’m Michael, Magic, and Bird all rolled in one… And if I ain’t better than B.I.G., I’m the closest one.” You almost have to give it to him; the aforementioned head-ringers come as easily as sure-fire hits. The catchy, yet marginally inventive, “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” samples the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and overflows with radio-friendly effervescence. The next single, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” lifts some sweeping ‘70s soul as Jay cleverly professes his insatiable appetite for all stripes of women. It’s good to be the king. But ultimately Jay attempts to ground his damn-I’m-fly exuberance with potent, self-conscious flows. The mournful “Song Cry” and the poignant title track, sentimental counterpoints to the hardcore aphorisms, at first may seem difficult to swallow - is there really a sweet spot beneath the cocksure shell? However, Jay’s honesty and confessional tone elevate his tales of urban survival beyond mere rap star bluster. Half a decade later, you still can’t knock his hustle.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 The Ruler's Back
3 Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
4 Girls Girls Girls
5 Jigga That Nigga
6 U Don't Know
7 Hola' Hovito
8 Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love)
9 Never Change
10 Song Cry
11 All I Need
12 Renegade - Jay-Z, Eminem
13 Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)/Lyrical Exercise/Girls, Girls, Girls Part 2