Music Review: Jay-Z, “The Blueprint 3″
Few raise their own stakes quite like Jay-Z: by calling the third disc since his truncated retirement “The Blueprint 3,” hip-hop’s most powerful player sets the bar high and asks listeners to compare his latest work to his greatest work. While “Blueprint 3” is not nearly as great as 2001′s “The Blueprint,” it has several standouts that justify the title and serves as a nexus point for Jay-Z’s street-born ethos and his high-gloss rap-pop, both of which provide excellent settings for the master’s lyrical flow.
Against a blaze of disco beats and synth washes courtesy of producer Kanye West, Jay-Z directs inward with a litany of his starring roles in media moments in “What We Talkin’ About” and a stunning and hard-as-nails glorification of himself and condemnation of competitors in “Thank You.” And like most legends, Jay-Z is a bundle of contradictions, taking aim at T-Pain collaborators in “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” but indulging in it immediately afterward with “Run This Town,” featuring West and Rihanna.
Such dichotomies recur constantly: Jay-Z delivers raw and awesome couplets on the hard-edged “On to the Next One,” recalling the rapper in his hungry, incendiary 20s, but “Empire State of Mind” is Shawn Carter as “the new Sinatra,” the king of New York. It’s a soaring travelogue of the five boroughs featuring Alicia Keys on the instant-classic chorus. That pop majesty has an unsatisfying flip side: the finale “Young Forever” is built on the Alphaville synth-pop weeper “Forever Young.” Comparatively speaking, Jay-Z is an elder statesman in a young man’s game, closing in on 40 but sounding thoroughly vital … until this track. A sure sign of insecurity about aging for this rapper is insisting that time doesn’t pass for him. But for the balance of “The Blueprint 3,” this mogul sounds practically ageless.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 35920Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 15377Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms drink in success of 'Hangover' series
- 9806Hobby Lobby argues case before federal judges
- 9680Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 9189Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
- 7926Blake Shelton's "Healing the Heartland" televised tornado benefit set for Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena
- 7748Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister
- 7269Carrie Underwood donates $1 million to Red Cross for disaster relief in wake of deadly Oklahoma tornadoes
- 6212Oklahoma tornadoes: Sooners bring back some smiles to Sydney Angle's teammates
- 6004UPDATE: Search continues for boy, 17, missing in Uncle John Creek in Kingfisher
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients