Jay-Z – “The Blueprint 3” [Review]


The internet has Jay-Z fever at the moment and with good reason: The Blueprint 3 is the most anticipated album of the year. So it is easy to understand why people have their hopes so high for the album, but it's not just that either: after the release of every one of Jay's Blueprint albums hip hop changes dramatically.

And with the state of hip hop in such peril as it is now, everyone could use a little light to reach the end of this dark tunnel. Jay-Z is the torch bearer and The Blueprint 3 is his wrathful blaze. So has Mr. Carter done it? Has he saved rap and hip hop for the depths of ringtone hell? Or is it just an hour of some old man bickering?
 Things start off on an odd note with opener “What We Talkin’ About” and following track “Thank You”. The former features the lead singer of an Australian electropop group and the latter is one long rap thanking his fans. None of these songs are bad, but like I said they are just a bit…odd.

The Blueprint 3 features the killer singles “D.O.A.” and “Run This Town” which features superstars Kanye West and Rhianna. These two tracks had single-handedly set the world ablaze with eager anticipation thanks to their wide appeal factor.

A pleasant surprise is the Alicia Keys collaboration “Empire State Of Mind”. The heartfelt tribute to New York features Jay-Z rapping emotionally over a beautiful beat. It really captures just how much Carter loves that city.

After a great introduction, The Blueprint 3 starts to have some noticeable inconsistencies and the first sign of this is the Young Jeezy collaboration "As Real As It Gets". It's a decent song for sure, but the subject matter is somewhat generic and fails to grab the listener. "On To The Next One" is probably the most annoying song on the album and that's because of its extremely repetitive beat. Even though it features sharp lyricism and a competent guest appearance by Swizz Beatz, that beat (which samples Justice's breakout song "D.A.N.C.E." no less) is so irritating it serves as the demise for what would be at least a decent song.

The Blueprint 3’s openness to change is shown through the surprising amount of underground and upstart rappers featured and these songs are some of the best off the album. “Off That” is an infectious and fun club song featuring a guest appearance by popular Canadian rapper Drake. “A Star Is Born” includes J. Cole on the chorus and he even manages to drop in a wicked verse at the end and manages to steal a little bit of the limelight away from the Hov. And the widely acclaimed Cleveland-based rapper Kid Cudi sings the chorus on the excellent track “Already Home”. Jay-Z made a wise decision to include these young rap stars as their inclusion builds on the idea that The Blueprint 3 is really an outline for what’s to come in the troubled genre.

Another Timbaland produced track, "Venus vs. Mars" is classic Jay-Z: filled to the brim with wordplay and pop culture references. The song seems a bit random while listening to the album and is host to a repetitive chorus, but overall things work and the song more or less delivers.

Kanye West not only handles most of the production work on The Blueprint 3 but he also features on two of the tracks: the previously mentioned “Run This Town” and the song “Hate”. However it is sad to say that despite the strong chemistry Jay-Z and Kanye usually have, “Hate” is the music equivalent of a drunken rant. Part of me still enjoys the song and after listening to the lyrics more carefully I can say I understand what they were trying to do. Yet the other part of me expected more from Kanye and “Hate”.

Another weak song on the album is “Reminder” which is yet another track produced by Timbaland. The song is noticeably less refined than the other tracks on The Blueprint 3. Also the chorus and beat become fairly dull after the first listen and Jay's verses are lacking originality. Plus the song "Already Home" talked about a similar subject that "Reminder" does (and does it better) so it really makes you wonder why the song is even there in the first place.

Things quickly improve with songs like "So Ambitious" which features a smooth talking Pharell on the chorus as Jay delivers a rap that results in an actual moral: don't let anyone say you can't be successful. As Jay is enlightened by the fact that the doubt that surrounded him is what made him so successful, the song follows a unique and accessible beat. The result is one of the most well balanced tracks on the album.

Closing track "Young Forever" is a surprisingly mushy conclusion to The Blueprint 3. I think Jay was aiming for a more poignant tone rather than something schmaltzy as he rapped about the unrivaled stamina of his legacy, but Mr. Hudson’s work on the chorus makes the song feel more and the album closes on a quiet, sentimental note.

Overall The Blueprint 3 is a successful album and justifies the huge amount of hype surrounding it. Innovating in a genre where originality has been ignored, the album eagerly points to two simple truths: rap won’t be the same after this album and that Jay-Z isn’t going anywhere for a long time.


Post a Comment

Whether you have enjoyed what you've read or want to rant about how I'm a complete moron, express yourself in the comments section!