Music Review: Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 3”

I am not normally a big Jay-Z fan, and am definitely not a fan of the previous Blueprint releases. I couldn’t understand why Jay-Z would add another chapter to the series, instead of making a sequel to The Black Album. However, the forty-year-old rap legend obviously knew what he was doing when he came out with The Blueprint 3. Although the album does not bring any startling new sounds or themes to the rapidly growing world of hip-hop, it’s good to have someone accustomed to the game step in and take the ropes from the likes of Gucci Mane.The new album mainly consists of Jay-Z reminding everyone who he is by repeatedly emphasizing his success; his notorious confidence never fails to shock us with how openly pompous someone can be. “Who better than me? Only the Beatles. Nobody ahead of me. I crush Elvis in his blue suede shoes, made the Rolling Stones seem sweet as Kool-Aid too.” He is still rapping about the same things that he always raps about—his amazing hits and accomplishments, New York, The Yankees, Bonnie & Clyde, etc.—but while his themes are familiar, Jay’s music still sounds refreshing because all other rappers today seem to be fixated on drugs, booty, money, and how hard they’ve worked to rise up from nothing. I guess Jay-Z has an advantage now, sitting pretty on the top for the past 14 years.The album’s success is due in part to contributions from some of the hottest names in the industry: Kanye West, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, Drake, Young Jeezy and more. This brings variety to Jay-Z’s more monotonous and repetitive style, changing up the songs to make them catchy and more radio-friendly.

Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

Standout Tracks:“Empire State of Mind” and “Run this Town”

“Run This Town,” the song that is currently making waves around the country, is a perfect example of a beautifully arranged and well-balanced hip-hop track. The beats, the plug-ins, and the strong, boastful lyrics are exactly what every hip-hop song of today is trying to accomplish. Not only is Jay-Z in full form, Rihanna also does an amazing job singing the chorus and lifting up the entire tone of the song with her “hey eye y ey.” But the guest artist who takes the cake is Kanye West, outshining Jay on every level in his guest verse. Kanye seems to be making a habit of grabbing fame from other peoples’ glory. But really, Kanye has produced the biggest hit on the album and it’s not like Jay-Z hasn’t ever mooched off Kanye’s hits in the past. So maybe we can allow Mr. West to walk away with the spotlight without an uproar this time.The artists that Jay-Z collaborates with on The Blueprint 3 are a major contributing factor to the success of the singles. If he really is the best thing that rap has to offer, why does he need other people up there with him to make his work a masterpiece?Having said that, I think most people will be as pleasantly surprised as I was by the album. Never before has a rapper at Jay’s age and stage managed to keep his unbeatable flow and clarity intact, and remained ready to take on the world and draw another blueprint that maps out a blended mix of what rap was, is and should be.

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