A Review of Jay-Z’s “Blueprint 3”
Considered one of the most anticipated albums of 2009, Jay-Z’s 11th studio release, Blueprint 3, fails to live up to expectations and satisfy the growing hunger for a return to the framework that made both Blueprint and Reasonable Doubt successful. For the past decade, the Blueprint brand has been Jay-Z’s trademark in dictating the agenda and direction of hip hop. However, the beloved son from Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects, whom we’ve come to admire for his journey from the New York underworld to his ascension as one of the greatest emcees of all time, seems to have reached an impasse in his career.
The first half of the LP starts off strongly, giving the indication that Jay-Z has finally returned to form, reminiscent in the first 2 Blueprint albums and is ready to assert his dominance once again over the industry. In “Thank You”, Jay-Z uses his wealth and demeanor as a means of silencing and deconstructing his emcee rivals and detractors, who have argued that he is no longer worthy of being known as hip-hop’s vanguard. “D.O.A.” is seen as a verbal diatribe against hip hop and its continued dependence of the auto-tuner. Jay-Z laments that the auto-tuner is ruining the quality of music being released and should not have a place in hip hop anymore. The crown jewel of the album belongs to “Empire State of Mind”, a wonderful and elegantl song displaying Jay-Z’s love and appreciation for the city of New York. It features vocals from renowned R & B singer, Alicia Keys, whose voice on the chorus enhances Jay-Z’s message.
In contrast, the second half of the LP seems to brandish an entirely new train of thought, a concept that seems to have backfired badly on Jay-Z. The beat production and guest appearances are the primary culprits. The previous two Blueprint albums employed cuts from Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Timbaland, and Just Blaze. Although Kanye and Timbaland reappear on Blueprint 3, Jay-Z also gives the responsibility of creating beats to Swizz Beatz and The Neptunes, who seemingly have lost their touch behind the boards. On Blueprint, the most notable guest appearance belonged to Eminem on the song, “Renegade”. Yet this time around, Jay-Z decided to feature two up and coming emcees, Drake and Kid Cudi, who are severely underused, being relegated to hook duty on “Off That” and “Already Home”, respectively.
Many artists like to expand upon their craft and delve into something that is completely different than what they are accustomed to. Nevertheless, someone who has reaped millions of dollars and has sold out at every concert he’s ever performed at, shouldn’t even need to put out an album with the sole intention of making money. Jay-Z has accomplished so much in his storied career that a Blueprint album that does not carry the same intensity and energy prevalent in the past two Blueprint albums, just simply isn’t Jay-Z’s M.O.