Being at the top of the Hip-Hop food chain has its perks, like becoming a mainstay on the Forbes list, having ten #1 albums, and oh yeah—sharing your bed with the hottest chick in the game, who happens to be wearing your chain.
But on the flipside, it also comes with unwanted aspects like high expectations, and natural jealousy amongst other things.
There lies the dilemma of Shawn Corey Carter AKA Jay-Z, as he enters another chapter in his storied musical career with his latest opus, The Blueprint 3.
After giving skeptics a Mike Tyson-esque uppercut with 2007’s American Gangster, the man that the entire Hip-Hop community anointed as the heir-apparent after B.I.G.’s death returns back to the brand (The Blueprint) that helped to establish him early on in his career.
Longtime Jay-Z associates like Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, The Neptunes, and of course Kanye West, alongside his mentor No I.D. all score placements on one of, if not thee most anticipated Hip-Hop album of the year.
Besides the mandatory Drake feature, other artists joining in are fellow newcomers Kid Cudi, and J. Cole [Click for J. Cole video interview]. Veterans come in form of Alicia Keys, Young Jeezy, and Pharrell.
Hov gets right down to business with ‘What We Talkin’ About,’ (feat. Luke Steele of Empire Of The Sun) which was first heard as a freestyle diss at a live performance a few months back.
He then gives himself a pat on the back with ‘Thank You,’ and reminds people of his stat sheet with lines like, “Please don’t bow in my presence/how am I a legend/I just got ten #1 albums/maybe now 11.”
Jay-Z then uses ‘Empire State Of Mind’ (feat. Alicia Keys) to get descriptive about the city that raised him. Hip-Hop’s adlib king in Young Jeezy makes his way onto ‘As Real As It Gets,’ as they both trade verses on the slow drawn-out track provided by The Inkredibles.
From there, Hov incorporates the lost art form of concept songs with ‘A Star Is Born’ (feat. J. Cole), as he runs through the list of MC’s who have made an impact on the genre.
Kid Cudi is held to hook duties on the Kanye West-produced ‘Already Home,’ as Jay-Z addresses those who want him to bow out, and the people who refer to him as a camel:
“Now these n*ggas is mad/oh they call me a camel/but I mastered the drought/what the f*ck, I’m an animal/half man, half mammal/my sign is a Sage/this is just what I planned to do/oh don’t be mad.”
The duo of Jay-Z and Pharrell reunite on ‘So Ambitious,’ which can be considered as a motivational song for the listeners, and that also includes a subliminal shot at one-time partner in crime Dame Dash:
“N*ggas probably thought I’d fall without old buddy/oh buddy/what I do is make more money.”
Other songs constructed by Hip-Hop’s biggest architect are tunes like ‘On To The Next One’ (feat. Swizz Beatz), ‘Forever Young,’ ‘Hate’ (feat. Kanye West), and ‘Reminder.’
When it comes to the breaking down The Blueprint 3, it’s clear to see that the project is not the best piece of work Marcy’s most famous son has manufactured, but it’s far from the worst as well.
The street-slick metaphors, that everyone in every ‘hood could once relate to have been replaced with material that only people in his tax bracket can comprehend—and that’s a bracket his diehard fan base will never reach.
But in his defense, it’s difficult to continue on talking about your past history when your present history includes people like Coldplay’s Chris Martin and his Oscar-winning wife, Gwyneth Paltrow amongst those on your speed dial list.
Some might argue that Jay-Z lost a step, and others will say it’s just sign of him maturing, and growing a part from the immaturity that Hip-Hop sometimes brings.
Whatever the case may be, it will probably be a lot easier for you to make your own assumptions after you take in the third installment of the Blueprint series for yourself. And regardless of what your opinion is then- most likely he’ll just brush it off his shoulder, like he’s been doing his whole career…