By Josh Mosley
It took more than a year. It took the release of four “first singles.” It took the market place being over-saturated with one P.O.S. Auto-tune joint after another. And after scrapping the original product for a scratch effort, we have come to the release of the final (I think) chapter in the Blueprint franchise: The Blueprint 3.
As a fan of Star Wars, I think the Hov could have come with a subtitle to bring the whole thing home.
Blueprint 3: Return of Hovi
Blueprint Episode 3: A New Hov
Those are just suggestions but you see what I’m saying. Either way, the album got released a few days earlier than it’s previously announced Sept. 11 deadline. Either way, while I expected a little more epicness to this album, Jay came with it on this one.
One thing about this work is that Kanye West’s production stamps are all over this one. After the original Blueprint shot him to fame with classy cuts like “H to the Izzo” and “Heart of the City” (which is the ringtone that plays when any member of my family calls), he gets busy on this one from the start. There’s a lot of layers to West’s production on this album, particularly opening tracks “What We Talkin’ About” and “Thank You”. There’s almost a Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” aspect to it except more synthesizers, samples, and drum beats and less male pattern baldness and murder convictions (EAT IT, PHIL).
West’s dropout bear paws also are found on the album’s second single “Run This Town” featuring he and Rhianna. I stand by the fact that this would have been one of the tracks of the summer if released before D.O.A but what do I know. I’m just a youth consumer. As I suspected, D.O.A., No I.D.’s lone solo production effort, stands as one of the lesser tracks on the entire work as most lead singles go on to do. It’s science. More times than not, the filler songs are killer.
When I eagerly anticipate an album, I like to go around to the interhighway and read reviews from people who get paid to listen to music. It’s a sweet job that I would love to try one day but that’s beside the point. The reviews for Hov’s latest have been mostly in two arena’s:
1: a solid effort that re-establishes Hov as the king of the game.
2: Hov is slacking and it’s not lyrically or production wise what he did in the initial Blueprint.
To that I respond with this: Shawn Carter is going to be 40 years old this December. He’s married to one of the finest women on earth. He’s rich. He’s famous. He’s mainstream. Shawn Carter circa 2001 was just rich and famous and looking to solidify his status as the best alive. One writer wrote that prior to the release of BP1, he was at a crossroads in his career where he had to deal with mainstream success and fortune while his hardcore, longtime fans were disenchanted with his new lot in life: going from poor young black man slangin’ with his hat real low to the rich black making money and partying in the Hamptons…with his hat real low.
People: Can you honestly say you’d buy albums of Jay-Z talking about banging tricks, shooting people and selling drugs. The motherfucker is 39 YEARS OLD and married. He’s not a Marcy Project thug anymore. He’s a DOMESTICATED gated community thug. He’ll never forget where he came from but it’s senseless for him to harp on those upbringings when we know that he lives life differently now.
He’s experimenting production wise and with his lyrics and I dig it. Songs like “Empire State of Mind” celebrate his great love of New York while “A Star is Born” celebrates hip hop. Timbaland brings the hot beats along with ‘Ye and No I.D. most notably on the song “Off That” that features Drake (he starred on “Degrassi” so his street cred is already in question if you ask me). Pharrell throws in his two cents with “So Ambitious” and the album ends memorably with Jay taking a stab at 80’s sampling with “Young Forever.”
Is he killing people through verse and vignette on this album? No. And that’s okay. Album’s are supposed to capture moments in time and I think this is Shawn Carter here and now. I could play this CD twice on a car ride and be okay with it and still want to sit back with the boys, beers and stogies later in the night. I dig it that much. Roc on, Hov.
Standout cuts: “Empire State of Mind”, “Real As It Gets” (feat. Young Jeezy), “Young Forever”, “Thank You”, “A Star is Born”, “Reminder”, “Venus vs. Mars”. The Jeezy collabo is my choice cut of the moment.
Skip over: Not many although I can’t vibe with “So Ambitious”. Odd because two of my favorite Jay songs that Pharrell produced are “I Know” off American Gangster and “Allure” off The Black Album.