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"Vol. 3... Life Aind Times Of S. Carter" came as the fourth album from the New York rapper Jay-z and was released in 1999. It finds the rapper, at a point where he had established himself as a main layer in the Hip Hop game, working with the likes of Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and DJ Premier to come out with work that is able carry through more of his work into mainstream attention.
1. "Hova Song" (Intro)
2. "So Ghetto"
Off a heavy K-Rob-produced introduction, you see that here DJ Primo steps up and comes in hard with his distinctive Old School-styled style that gives it a rough feel that is able to progress things in spite of the fact that it takes heavily from periods tha have passed on a long time ago. It is a raw jam from him and one that induces a hardcore head bop to kick off the album in a massive way that tells you are in for something big.
3. "Do It Again"
Rockwilder comes to bring some Rock-inspired production with this one and you see that it makes for something intense here as he teams up with Amil and Beanie Sigel for a rough jam (and one that was released as the second single on his album). it is one that appeal to those who are into the heavy, underground East Coast material from this late nineties to early '00s period in the Hip Hop game.
4. "Dope Man"
You see that here with this DJ Clue production you get a bit of a change to the material as you find that here there is a bit of a change to the way that things go down here where Jay-Z gets the chance to escape all the commercial material in order to come out with something that it is all about his skills at storytelling and rhyming. It is a pretty fresh one, but needs time to get into (compared to others).
5. "Things That You Do"
This one seems to sand out hugely, and much of this is down to the fact Swizz Beatz is behind the production, and he can't help but take things a stage further than they need to be in order to stand out ahead of others, in addition to this you also get an appearance from Mariah Carey, who seems to suit the woodwind that is heard running through the joint (that would drop as a single off this release.
6. "It's Hot"
This one is a direct response to what 50 Cent brought on his breakthrough with "How To Rob" as the underground hit that he brought, in which he named all the main players in the game, only to face attacks from almost all of those who were called-out in what was just a novelty track. It has production from Timbaland, who comes out with something that was very unlike him for the time.
7. "Snoopy Track"
Timbo is behind this one too, and you see tha tin this case he comes out with something just as experimental as the first and you see that for this one he chooses to change the direction of his music quite a bit as you see that here he take sit right down tot he Dirty South and represents the big southern cities hard as he is joined by Cash Money's Juvenile for a deep cut that moves thigns on well.
8. "S. Carter"
You get production from Chauncey Mahan and Russ Howard production here (made obvious through the DJ scratches that you are greeted by) and you find that once it has passed over it makes for a rather average track as you see that he does an eponymous cut that has him doing nothing but rapping about how he out-does all others, forcing others to try harder, and I felt that it was a bit too disposable when compared to what you are used to from him.
9. "Pop 4 Roc"
Here you get a big tune from the album and one that I felt lifted the thing quite a bit as you see that here you get him linking up with some all-stars on his Roc-A-Fella label with him doing thing alongside Beanie Sigel, Amil and Memphis Bleek on what is a pretty fresh tune and one that really suits the time (especially for the East Coast scene) as they do a nice little club joint that does its thing.
10. "Watch Me"
Thanks to his role in writing on Dre's second solo album, you see that Jay-Z gets Compton's Dr. Dre to come and rhyme alongside him for this one. You see that Irv Gotti comes with some dark production that boosts it just as Dre appearance on the thing does as he keeps to the club-based material and shows how he can inject fly lyrics in it without compromising either aspect of the track.
11. "Big Pimpin'"
This was, by far, the most well-known track to drop of this release and one that does big things for Jay-Z and all others involved as you see that you have him linking up with UGK (the Port Arthur, Texas duo of Bun B and the late Pimp C - the latter of whom was reluctant to take part in something sounding so 'East Coast') as here he shows love for some undergrounders in the south and makes for a big tune as a result.
12. "There's Been A Murder"
You get a rather dark one coming off a heavy jam that appeared to life the album quite a bit and I have to say that personally I don't really enjoy seeing such juxtaposition on the album. However, I wouldn't say that this track is a weak one at all as you see that here as he is seen to kill of Jay-Z in order to become S. Carter again, he makes for a tune that shows his creativity and his ability to make for effective tracks.
13. "Come And Get Me"
Timbo shows how he can do some funky material just as well as others as he calms down his percussion style in order to do something much more conventional, and more in-line with the southern style of the time and it seems to lead to Jay-Z coming out with something fresh and something that develops as it goes along to show how well they can come out with tunes that have a fair bit of depth to them.
Here you get what is essentially the final track on the album and one that you really can't hate on as you find that you get a laid-back cut that forces you t really bring in everything that has been heard through the album in a light groover that has the artist maintaining the high standard of rhyming whilst apppearing to put in much less effort along the way. It is a decent one and does well for what it is.
15. "Hova Song" (Outro)
This is another strong album from Jay-Z, and although it clearly isn't anything like the album that came prior to it and so although t is seen as a bit of a slip from him, it wasn't really too significant a drop to suggest tha the was loosing what he had been able to come with on tall the albums leading up to this point.
I should probably preface this review by saying that I'm not particularly well-versed in rap music and culture, but that I definitely enjoy a good rap track as much as the next man and that I know what I like. On this release, the irrepressible Jay-Z has brought a bunch of foul-mouthed friends along for a selection of rap duets and collaborations, some of which work, some of which fall short of the mark. Other artists on the disc feature Juvenile, Missy Elliot, UGK and Twista.
My problem with this record (and perhaps with rap music in general) is that it's essentially a pissing contest where you list your friends, your street credentials, your propensity for violence and your vast, pharaonic wealth. This can work phenomenally well when supported by good production and catchy beats (to see what I mean, listen to 'Big Pimpin' on this release or a Dr Dre CD). Perhaps I'm unfairly comparing the late 90s thug version of Jay-Z to his modern incarnation as suave millionaire businessman and entrepreneur (even if he can't get the financing to get his hotel chain off the ground!)
While it does get a little tiring and the lyrics bring a whole new meaning to vulgar on certain tracks (sorry, am I meant to say 'edgy'?) - there are a few bright stars on this record that prevent it from being a total flop. I'd recommend downloading 'So Ghetto', the excellent dirty south sounds of 'Snoop Track', 'Big Pimpin' and 'Is That Yo Bitch?' The rest is hackneyed and is best avoided. The tracks mentioned feature some really strong beats, better raps than the rest of the CD and the cream of the collaborations.
If you're a huge gangsta rap fan and the world of bragging and colourful threats wins you over every time, you'll love every minute of this and can ignore the rest of the review ;-)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Hova Song
2 So Ghetto
3 Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up) - Jay-Z, Amil, Beanie Sigel
4 Dope Man
5 Things That U Do - Jay-Z, Mariah Carey
6 It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)
7 Snoopy Track - Jay-Z, Juvenile
8 S "Dot" Carter - Jay-Z, Amil
9 Pop 4 Roc - Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Amil, Beanie Sigel
10 Hova Interlude
11 Big Pimpin' - Jay-Z, UGK
12 Is That Yo Bitch - Jay-Z, Timbaland
13 Come And Get Me
15 Hova Song