The Blueprint, Jay-Z

Paul Wong
Dude, have you seen the size of that thing?” 20010911, arts, New Line greenlights, <br><br>Courtesy of Compaq

Roc-a-Fella Records

I have not once ever been moved by an album enough to listen to it from beginning to end without touching the skip button until now. Imagine my utter shock that resulted from being so immersed in The Jiggaman”s sixth solo effort The Blueprint, a surprisingly stunning follow up last year”s dismal Dynasty album.

I have been forced to shit on Jay-Z for quite a while he has always possessed so much talent that he, in my opinion, chose to throw out the window for the sake of the mean green. He has dominated the commercial radio waves for the past three-and-a-half years with hit platinum-selling albums, making himself and his Roc-a-Fella dynasty household names. The sad truth, of course, is that tons of airplay doesn”t necessarily amount to quality, and this is why we have seen a pathetic, uncharacteristic showing from Jay-Z from his last two albums. I think that, somewhere deep inside, he recognizes this, and has made a conscious effort to rectify the problem.

While his Hard Knock Life album was more of a compilation than a solo album, he manages to go thirteen tracks (with two hidden) with only one guest. No dull Memphis Bleek. No boring Beanie Sigel. No tracks designed for the commercial audience. It is as if he completely discarded the formula that made him rich and decided to go back to the essence. It also seems as if he knows what a quality track consists of, and realizes that he hasn”t been pushing that quality material for some time now. It”s as if he said to himself, “Shawn, you made this money. You won this audience. Now it”s time to take “em all back to Reasonable Doubt.”

He describes this album as his life on record (thus the title), and it is definitely his most personal, heartfelt album to date. Listen to him verbally decimate rivals Prodigy and Nas in “Takeover.” Listen to him light up Timbaland”s distinguished production in the banger “Hola” Hovito.” Just listen to the soulful, unconventional “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Heart of the City” to fully understand how Jigga is coming with his this time around! Everyone”s favorite angry white boy even comes blazing as the album”s only guest lyricist in the moody “Renegade.”

The truth is, Jay-Z literally blew my mind with this new release, and he will undoubtedly develop an untouchable status as a result, single-handedly compensating for an otherwise disappointing year of music. It will be difficult for anyone to top his album for the remainder of the year. Massive bootlegging of the album, however, has caused him to push the release date up one week, so people do the honest thing and actually purchase this gem understand that it is well worth it.

Grade: A

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