Sunday, September 20, 2009

Album Review: Jay-Z Blueprint 3...potential classic?

With such hype and expectations surrounding his new Blueprint 3 album release, Jay-Z can officially sit back, relax and watch as his thirteenth album will eminently go platinum. I can say that with absolute conviction based on these two facts: 1) All twelve of his studio albums, from Reasonable Doubt to American Gangster have went platium 2) His album sales first week got him almost half way there at 476,000 copies sold.

As far as the content of the album, the best I can describe it is a more grown and sexy, sort of adult contemporary Hip Hop. Not too heavy on the language, lots more live instruments, great collaborations and a solid mix of theme based tracks and Hip Hop anthems.

Starting from the first track, What We Talkin Bout where Jigga just jumps in and goes bar after bar over a rolling, upbeat, synth laced instrumental. Like a pro he mixes up his flow masterfully while telling a coherent story, more or less about what's on his mind. Thank You is about as filler of a track you're going to find on the album, but continues a more live band sound of the album.

Then the album moves onto the singles portion, with D.O.A., a track that I've respected more than actually liked, sound wise. The lyrics banning Autotune have legitimately had an impact on Hip Hop today, the second this track got out, every rapper has thought twice about using it as a crutch for a hit. Moving on to everyone's new favorite anthem, Run This Town. I can't even hate on this as a single choice one bit as Ye absolutely dropped a pristine verse and killed it on Shawn's own track. The beat can be described as methodical, providing a backdrop for an a fun, inspirational, night out on the town anthem. In years, Run This Town will continue to be respected as the song that set this whole album off as one of Jay's best efforts.

From then on you'd expect to get a dose of filler tracks, but instead hidden gems are unearthed. From the NY anthem that will instill pride from the City every time it is played. Definitely will pop up on some sort of movie, I'm sure. Real As It Gets is respectable, but average, but the next track On To the Next One featuring Swizz Beats goes hard. I've always been lukewarm on Swizz because his sound can be a little monotonous, but he came correct on this beat. Definitely a party track that should be considered a future single due to the imminent club appeal.

Off That continues the futuristic trend setting vibe of the album well with help from Drizzy and Timbo. I especially enjoy all of the Republican jabbing with the Bill O'Rielly and Rush Limbaugh barbs. Real upbeat fast paced track, hard not to like although I still am holding out for a slower paced track with Jigga and Drake. Maybe on Thank Me Later??

The chorus of A Star is Born has that timeless sample feel to it. It really feels like through the creative process of creating this album Hov wanted to make an album with tracks that could appeal to a wide range of accessible emotions. For example, this track can be played for so many occasions to celebrate any sort of prodigy. Venus vs Mars has a real dark, sexy vibe to it. It's difficult to deny the sex appeal of a track whose chorus is "Shorty get it in, Daddy go hard". Really like the feel of the back and forth flow with the yin and yang sort of banter.

Already Home and Hate are both decent tracks but don't particularly move me. The beat on Hate is pretty awesome, hats off to you on that one Kanye. But the album finishes with such a flurry of great tracks, its tempting to consider this release as a 5 headphone album. Reminder may be the hottest beat on the whole disc, with the bangin bass and violin-esque synthesizers. Timbo deserves a few daps for doin it, not to mention how hard it goes in the trunk. Another reason why I like this track so much, you can play it loud and the bass doesn't take away from sound of the track. Real hard to do that on a track where turning the bass up all the way doesn't dominate the track, both can coexist in harmony, nam sayin??

Another producer I've gone a little lukewarm on, Pharrell, stepped it up on So Ambitious. It has such a layed back likable vibe to it that's set off by the swag infused hook by Pharrell. Just a fun track all around, I wouldn't be mad if it were single also.

Finishing an album with a bang to make a lasting impression is how you start to talk about an albums ability to have longevity and be considered as one of the best. Blueprint 3 is attempting to reach that because of the track Young Forever. I was not surprised when I heard Kanye produced the track and in my opinion, the whole track did the original sample by Alphaville nothing but justice. I can't stress how perfectly Mr. Hudson fit this track and brought those same feelings that were generated by the original track. In fact, I was happy to see this performance of his rendition of the song at a small concert...

With such a picturesque finish to a developing classic, I emphatically gave this album a 4.5 out of 5. I would have been tempted to give it a 5 headphone rating if Ghetto Techno was included on the album, but nonetheless, its deserving of its lofty rating. It's way too early to respect it as one of his best albums, but I feel like it will be seen as that over time. Way too many well produced tracks and crafty lyrics to sleep on this one. You know a Hip Hop album is special when even your parents can respect and legitimately enjoy at least half the tracks on the album. Congrats Hovie, you done well man...a couple more of these and you'll be up there with these Brits now that you've passed Elvis will 11 Billboard #1 albums.


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