Music Review: Jay-Z – The Blueprint 3 (2009)
<img src="http://www.project-11.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/JayZ-Blueprint3-150x150.jpg" align="left">Jay-Z should've probably stopped rapping a few years ago.
Jay-Z is the Brett Favre of hip-hop; he’s announced his retirement a few times only to keep coming back to diminishing returns each time. And much like Favre, Jay should call it quits for real. The Blueprint 3 is an abortion of an album.
Jay-Z has nothing to be ashamed of if he just walked away now. There’s more than enough material from him to keep a big fan happy. He’s released over a dozen albums on his own (some of them classics), did a mashup album with Linkin Park, and if that’s still not enough there are remix albums like Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album and Kno’s The White Albulum. After listing all of that, there’s really no reason an album like The Blueprint 3 (featuring an over-the-hill rapper who should have called it quits years ago) should exist.
Hip-hop fans today typically rank Jay-Z as one of the five or ten best rappers of all-time, and if you’re talking about 1995-2005 Jay then you won’t hear that many complaints from me. But since then, every time I’ve heard Jay on a track I’ve always just thought “I can’t wait for this verse to be over” or “I wish someone else was rapping over this beat”. That’s not something you think for a supposed all-time great. By comparison, Nas should probably hang it up too but at least when he’s rapping I never feel like someone else should be doing his verse. Nas can still rap, he just can’t put together an interesting album anymore. Jay-Z can barely even rap.
That’s not to say the entire album is dreadful — some of the singles were pretty good. Rihanna’s hook in “Run This Town” is awesome (Kanye also outshines Jay on that song), and Alicia Keys definitely stole the show on “Empire State of Mind“. Notice that Jay-Z is not the reason I like either of those songs. Songs like “Death of Autotune” are an attempt to get the “I hate mainstream” people back on Jay’s side, but the fact that Jay works constantly with heavy autotune users like Kanye and Drake really makes that song seem hollow. Jay even admitted that he had a song using autotune on this album but ultimately scrapped it because he knew how dumb it’d look. Come on, man.
Jay-Z has proven himself to be one of the most inconsistent artists in hip-hop ever since he started, but recently he’s just been consistently unimpressive. He really sounds like a guy who is over the hill and will never be half of what he used to be. His verses on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy didn’t do much to change my mind either (he had the worst two verses on the whole album). The Blueprint 3 might not be Jay’s worst album, but it’s definitely close.