The Best Album In Music Since The New Millenium (2001) Jay-Z "The Blueprint"

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Abr 2 2011, 11h03

: Definition of BLUEPRINT
: something resembling a blueprint (as in serving as a model or providing guidance); especially : a detailed plan or program of action <a blueprint for victory>



Released September 11, 2001
Recorded July 2001; Manhattan Center Studios, Baseline Studios (New York, New York)
Length 63:52
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam


Yes, the new millennium is 2001, not 2000. But any-who, Jay-Z, the most successful rapper ever, dropped his arguable best album if you don't choose "Reasonable Doubt" as his best, in 2001. September 11th. Wow. Rap still didn't have an undeniable crown holder, the title was ambiguous, and Jay knew who he had to annihilate to make the debate of "rap's best" a debate no more but a fact, in Jay-Z's favor, of him being the best MC, and not that creator of "Illmatic" from Queens. Armed with an arsenal of future producer legends Kanye West and Just Blaze, already legends The Trackmasters and Timbaland, and a lesser known but just as good, Bink, with Eminem dishing out one produced track, Jay had the perfect sound-scape to lay down perhaps his best compilation of songs he's ever recorded. Recorded in less then two days, a WEEK-END might we add. Equipped with only his mind, no pen or paper, Jay drew out his life and soul, all from memory and heart and his life, past and present, became flesh, real-life and moving in our ears and our OWN minds as he revealed what it was like to be Jay-Z. Selling 2 million plus, this album knows no boundaries when it comes to musicality, lyricism, song-writing, hit-making, and just overall greatness/enjoyment. Let's honor the best album in MUSIC since 2001. (Jay's not even one of my top ten rappers! But this album is just too sweet and heavy to not crown it/strap it with a championship title).


I'm going to rank each song out of 5, and give commentary on each track. SO, enjoy the heavy analysis of the album, or just skip down and skim for each songs ranking/rating or whatever. It's your own time your using on your damn computer/i-phone/android/whatever the buttfuck else (No homo) you people use these days.

1 "The Ruler's Back" Produced By Bink 5/5
As soon as the bongos reverberate the sensuous slaps from the hands, you know you're about to be in for a musical masterpiece, not only setting the tone for the song, but for the ALBUM. Not since Reasonable Doubt has a Jay-Z album started out from second zero onward, so, SERIOUS. All business, no bullshit. Bink (a slept on producer of all-time) creates herculean-super-hero theme music for Jay-Z to announce his throne holding. As brassy horns scorch like heat-blasts over the track, sonic, loud thumping drums and snares give us an ALIVE! feeling that you can rarely find anywhere else. An unabashed "Fuck You All" spirit is encumbered on the lyrics to anyone who would even THINK of touching the ARM-REST of the King's chair. Because fan or not, the man earned his spot with endless hits since that '96 summer. With a nice tip of the hat ode to Slick Rick for hook borrowing, Jay lets you know he's out to lay down the verses of his life, giving you his most well rounded album to date that he can. With darts in hand, aimed at as of yet unnamed rapper's faces on posters, Jay proclaims,
"Well in these times, well at least to me//There's a lot of rappers out there tryin' to sound like Jay-Z".
Nice foreshadowing to that oh so known Track 2. Jay's in for the long run and he's going to prove it to you that he "Will Not Lose". So as the album starts off with a cannon-shot of a track, we are informed near the end that Jay and Roc-A-Fella company are here forever. "We gon' roll//'til the wheels fall off, y'all muh'fuckers check the tires". The Ruler's Back, in fact never left.

2 "Takeover" Produced By Kanye West 5/5
After an infamous Summer Jam in New York, 2001, rap heads and music enthusiasts alike were aware of an out and open wax-beef, and possible real-life-beef between Jay-Z and fellow rhyme-elitists Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nasty Nas out of Queensbridge. A shorter version of the "Takeover" had the long brewing animosity finally flowing freely in the streets of NY City with fans salivating at the possibilities of classic rap records to be possibly recorded in the not so far future. Once you heard the screaming of Jim Morrison and the guitar riffs courtesy of The Doors you knew this was war. A then unknown producer, Kanye West delivers Jay an impeccable instrumental that would give Jay the perfect backdrop for what would become top 5 Diss Records in Rap History. With wit not sprinkled, but SHOVELED throughout the track Jay spits, "Hey lil' soldier you ain't ready for war//
R.O.C. too strong for y'all//It's like bringin' a knife to a gunfight, pen to a test//Your chest in the line of fire witcha thin-ass vest". Who is he talking about SPECIFICALLY we want to know. Well, Exhibit A. Victim Number One, Prodigy.
"I don't care if you Mobb Deep, I hold triggers to crews
You little FUCK, I've got money stacks bigger than you
When I was pushin weight, back in eighty-eight
you was a ballerina I got your pictures I seen ya"
FLASH!

Midget Michael Jackson.
New York City was aghast and laughing uproariously at this embarrassing mammoth of a skeleton in the closet of one of the most hardcore rappers to ever breathe on a mic. But Jay's not done, he wants to beat the freshly dead horse once again, "Then you dropped "Shook Ones" and switched your demeanor//Well, we don't believe you, you need more people". Jay lets it be known that he has multiple bodies to snipe down on this song and exits verse 2 with what Summer Jam goers were cut off with until "The Blueprint" dropped. The nail in the coffin for Prodigy is the damaging bar "I sold what your whole album sold in my first week". With Nasir Jones in the cross-hairs Jigga Man throws Prodigy's body aside to switch victims, en-route to grab Nas by the neck spitting "You guys don't want it with Hov//Ask Nas, he don't want it with Hov', nooooo!"
Exhibit B. Victim Number Two, Nas.
Nas is alert. Wondering what his best competition has to offer him. Well, here Jay goes...
"Nas I know you're missin all the - FAAAAAAAME!
But along with celebrity comes bout seventy shots to your frame
Nigga; you a - LAAAAAAAME!
You's the fag model for Karl Kani/Esco ads"
It's no secret that one of Rap's Champions, Nas, had dropped lukewarm albums in 1999, TWO of them. If Nas was on the ropes career wise prior to a Jay beef, now Nas was bouncing back forward off the ropes to receive a hay-maker from Brooklyn's Finest.
"Went from, Nasty Nas to Esco's trash
Had a spark when you started but now you're just garbage
Fell from top ten to not mentioned at all
to your bodyguard's "Oochie Wally" verse better than yours"
Jay Number ONE, dissects Nas as a man, the Ghetto Survivor/Story Teller, cutting out his credibility as a rapper and a PERSON with acidic lines that melt flesh and rep. "There's only so long fake thugs can pretend//Nigga; you ain't live it you witnessed it from your folks pad//You scribbled in your notepad and created your life"
Jay Number TWO, amputates Esco's Body of Work, analyzing and clarifying what's good and what's not. Also proving that longevity doesn't equal success.
"Use your - BRAAAAAAAIN! You said you been in this ten
I've been in it five - smarten up Nas
Four albums in ten years nigga? I can divide
That's one every let's say two, two of them shits was doo
One was - NAHHH, the other was "Illmatic"
That's a one hot album every ten year average"
Jay clearly pounds on his chest proving that he's had more hits in the little years he'd been in the game since 1996 while Nas debuted in 1994. Not only does Nas get ran over the tires of the bus, his baby's mama is at the receiving end of some venom, even though no names are named,
"And you know who, did you know what with you know who, let's just keep that between me and you...".
All in All Jay's here to let all know that no one is fucking with him. Only those with some substantial name in the music biz (Prodigy & Nas) get dissed outright, while everyone else Jigga had beef with in 2001 (Jayo Felony, Bravehearts, Meeno [who?]) are capsulized in half a bar,
"And all you other cats throwin shots at Jigga
You only get half a bar - fuck y'all niggas..."
He indeed took-over.


3 "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" Produced By Kanye West 5/5
The lead off single to the LP. This is how MUSIC, not just RAP singles should be. Simultaneously being bragadocious but reflective at the same time. This is just a neighborhood anthem, makes you feel good and maybe even squeeze out a proud tear or two for Marcy's Native. Jay's "seen hoop dreams deflate"(a clever simile) and let's it be known that a sordid past can be overcome and that when he tells you tales of the underworld its for you to avoid and not to indulge in. "Like I told you sell drugs; no, Hov' did that//so hopefully you won't have to go through that". This makes you want to throw up the diamond and celebrate H to the Izzo. Jackson 5 provide the timeless instrumental its heightened beauty with the everlasting sample.

4 "Girls, Girls, Girls" Produced By Just Blaze 5/5
I've seen some thorough rap-heads give this song a 4 out of 5 or even lower. What the hell! This instrumental is PERFECT! And the theme is clever as hell, full of comedy and a brag-track that's actually digestible for once that other rappers just come off unbelievable or just down right stupid or boring talking of their women and cars and money. Jay is "The Blueprint" for that model of how to talk about your money and success the best. Slick Rick, Q-Tip and Biz Markie, all legends, make the hook, and song just that more sweet. After listing off various women-conquests in detail Jay summarizes them at the end of verse one with,
"Now that's Spanish chick, French chick, Indian and Black
That's fried chicken, curry chicken, damn I'm gettin fat
Arroz con pollo, french fries and crepe
An appetite for destruction but I scrape the plate".
That's how you pull off mainstream singles with cleverness on the side.
DON'T SLEEP ON THIS SONG like this chick in the song Jay spits about,
"I got this ho that after twelve million sold
Mami's a narcoleptic, always sleepin on Hov'
Gotta tie the back of her head like Deuce Bigalow
I got so many girls across the globe.."
Pitch, swing, and a home-run.

5 "Jigga That Nigga" Produced By The Trackmasters 4/5
THIS SONG ISN'T BAD! I LOVE the beat. It's just the only song on here that could have been sliced out. The subject matter is more generic then the song title, (Did we not already basically hear the hook on Vol. 3 "Jigga My Nigga"?). But lines like, "Jigga get this whole bitch jumpin like six-fo's" and "I am, killin 'em out there, they needin first aid//Cause the boy got more 6's than first grade" save this song from graveyard land where songs like Nas's "Braveheart Party" that used to be on Stillmatic, lie in death, completely scrapped from one's classic album, left off of future releases of the same album.

6 "U Don't Know" Produced By Just Blaze 5/5
"Turn my music high, high, high, high-er......
{*"You don't know.. what you're doing, doing, doing, doing.."*}
Sure I do.."
If I could give this song a 10 out of 5 if that even makes sense I would...
I'm about to say this song>The album. "U Don't Know" easily ranks as my favorite song on the album and Top 5 Jay songs I've ever heard. And, thanks to JUST BLAZE! this instrumental is hands down top 2 or 3 HARDEST, GRIMIEST, instrumentals ever made in MUSIC, up there with Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones Pt. II" instrumental opus. This is vintage Jay. Easily the best shit-talker with swag flowing off the tongue with ease, Jay is rap's biggest playboy, the Black Hugh Hefner, no fuck that, Hugh Hefner's the White Jay-Z. Only BK homeboy Biggie Smalls can rival Jay in pure style on the mic. "I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell//I am a hustler baby, I'll sell water to a well". Throughout Jay counts up the literal MILLIONS he was and is amassing as he was even spitting inside that booth his net worth skyrocketing higher and higher, "one million two million three million four.....in eighteen months, 80 million more..." And quite arrogantly, breath-taking even, Jay quips "I'm rapin' Def Jam 'til I'm the hundred million man". Man, this song's so good I'm bout to play it right now, and hopefully live by these words Jay spits, "Put me anywhere on God's green earth, I'll triple my worth//Motherfucker - I, will, not, lose".


7 "Hola' Hovito" Produced By Timbaland 5/5

An original sound, period, for Hip-Hop. It's almost weird to learn no sample was used by Timbaland for this obvious Spanish-influenced track. It's an Anthem for Jay, one of his many monikers such as Hova, Jigga, Hov', "Hovito" now joins the list in the A.K.A.'s. Jay shines bright here, and wants it to be known, shines BETTER then anyone else, "Yeah you shinin but the only thing you're leavin out
You're a candle in the sun - that shit don't even out".
BUT! with this following paragraph, easily top 5 "WHAT THE FUCK DID HE JUST SAY?" lines in rap-history is uttered with this powerful statement that will cause debate and sure head scratching to whether it's true or not,
"If you haven't heard, I'm Michael, Magic and Bird
all rolled in one - cause none got more flows than Young
Plus got more flows to come
And if I ain't better than Big, I'm the closest one"
No question since Biggie and Pac's passing, since Nas never went for the crown in rap with hits and great albums to boast about, Jay was INDEED, the closest one, and the top living rapper. And this is coming from a Nas super fan.

8 "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" Produced By Kanye West 5/5
"First the Fat Boys break up, now every day I wake up
Somebody got a problem with Hov....
Whassup y'all niggas all fed up cause I got a little cheddar
and my records movin' out the store?"
This is easily the "Halftime" apex of the album, the peak of the mountain in which Jay plants the flag on top of the highest height and lets everyone know, "This fucking album is a classic". As Jay surveys from the top all the underlings of music he dishes out quick, classic genius lines like ,
"Yung'uns ice-grillin me, ohh - you not feelin me?//Fine; it cost you nothin' - pay me no mind".
Kanye West is a co-conspirator on the track for supplying an instrumental that sounds like it deserves an Oscar for "Best Music In A Motion Picture" or something. Bobby Blue Bland (like you've heard of him) supplies a great sample to which Jay can deride all those who oppose with ease. He doesn't need your love if you won't give it.
"And then the Fugees gon' break up, now everyday I wake up
Somebody got somethin to say.....
What's all the fuckin fussin for? Because I'm grubbin more
and I pack heat like I'm the oven door?"
Jay always eyed that throne, and had to make hits to sit in it. Fully lounging big willie style Jay can afford, literally to say lines like this, "I thought I told you characters I'm not a rapper//Can I live? I told you in ninety-six//that I came to take this shit and I did".
And never forgetting the Prodigy's and Nas's he spits,
"Then Richard Pryor go and burn up, and Ike and Tina Turner break up
Then I wake up to more bullshit
You knew me before records, you never disrespected me
Now that I'm successful you pull this shit".
It's no dispute, with SoundScan and BillBoard to boot, that Jay was, and somehow STILL IS, Rap's and a lot of the times MUSIC'S most successful artist. But EVEN AFTER ALL THE HIT MAKING! Haters and doubters still exist, and Jay drops a gem of a truth-jewel in your head with, "Jigga held you down six summers; damn, where's the love?"


9 "Never Change" Produced By Kanye West 5/5
A bit sappy, Kanye isn't needed on the hook, but it's a heartfelt-feely type song and the beat is plush and comfortable so yeah, let's just give it a 5. Jay bites Nas on here, Esco's line on "Verbal Intercourse" by Raekwon, "From the womb to the tomb presume the unpredictable, gun salute life rapidly that's the ritual" is blandly transformed into "From the womb to the tomb, from now until my doom//Drink army from one cup pass it around the room". But for this upcoming line alone "Never Change" gets a 5.
"We can get paper longer than Pippen's arms".


10 "Song Cry" Produced By Just Blaze 5/5
OK, just gonna say it. I give this song a 0 out of 5. I just don't like it. The video's horrible too. It's just too cheesy. The preceding song you thought it got corny but here comes "Song Cry" that makes ME want to cry literally at how horrendous it is. The song is basically about Jay reminiscing over past loves and life failures everyone has. But Jay makes it out in the song and video like he was a big "stud/pimp" which, lol, just no, women weren't careening over Jay jumping over gates to be wrapped in his arms. Even Jay said it somewhere before "And all the wavy light-skinned girls is lovin me now//My self-esteem went through the roof". lol. BUT! I can see, and hear where people will love and adore this song but I just don't dig it, but I'm not dull-headed to where I'd rate the song anything lower then a 5.

11 "All I Need" Produced By Bink 5/5
The Bongos come to life again...as on Track 1...
One of the most ferocious songs lyrically you'll get to hear on this LP. Jay's the heavyweight champ in Rap and his pugilistic swing is deadly,
"Plus the jab is sick, and its Zab quick//Left hand'll lean 'em like a little past six..."
The Mind is a deadly weapon that Jay does not mind letting go round after round, "Wanna act out a movie I could give you a clip//But no adlibbin' nigga stick to the script".
Bink is just as good as Just Blaze with beats, flipping a Natalie Cole classic "I Can't Break Away", and gives the album that super-force it needs to push Jay to timeless land...Another win for the R.O.C.


12 "Renegade" (feat. Eminem) Produced By Eminem 5/5
Yes, Eminem murdered him on his own shit, as the albums only guest appearance in full. But Jay holds his own. A dark, sinister beat "Renegade" is, and both rappers, easily the top 2 in Hip-Hop detest all doubters and critics in the music business and life in general. Em sends a low blow to all adults with the razor sharp lines,
"Now now, that's when you start to stare at who's in the mirror
and see yourself as a kid again, and you get embarrassed
And I got nothin to do but make you look stupid as parents
You fuckin do-gooders - too bad you couldn't do good at marriage!"
Em's verse is easily top 20 or so in rap history, and it's hard to rebuttal from something like that if you're in Jay's position, but he sends some nice lines with
"I bring it through the ghetto without ridin 'round
hidin down duckin strays from frustrated youths stuck in they ways
Just read a magazine that fucked up my day
How you rate music that thugs with nothin relate to it?
I help them see they way through it - not you
Can't step in my pants, can't walk in my shoes
Bet everything you worth; you lose your tie and your shirt"
But here comes Em again,
"See I'm a poet to some, a regular modern day Shakespeare
Jesus Christ the King of these Latter Day Saints here
To shatter the picture in which of that as they paint me
as a monger of hate and Satan a scatter-brained atheist
But that ain't the case, see it's a matter of taste
We as a people decide if Shady's as bad as they say he is
Or is he the latter - a gateway to escape?"
It's not rap that brainwashes the kids, its the PARENTS or MENTORS, so-called, that brainwash the kids into thinking that one music is "RIGHT" and another is "WRONG" when all musics share their right/wrong quotients. Violence, drugs, sex, weren't created by music, specifically rap so don't pretend like it was. Here comes JAY with some more potency in thought,
"I had to hustle, my back to the wall, ashy knuckles
Pockets filled with a lot of lint, not a cent
Gotta vent, lot of innocent of lives lost on the project bench".
SEE! Jay didn't get "raped" or TOTALLY obliterated when you READ the lyrics, or LISTEN closely, but yeah, Em gets the higher nod here in a song of which should be done more in Hip-Hop, two Heavyweights squaring off ALONG-SIDE one another, and not AT one another via a beef, diss records back and forth. Oh, And an album wouldn't be complete without a B.I.G. shout-out,
"Raisin my fingers to critics; raisin my head to the sky
Big I did it - multi before I die"
Multi-millions he did sell in units, and Multi-millions he did make, and is making.


13 "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" Produced By Bink 5/5
How do we close out a virtually perfect album? We turn the tempo down....We let the beat breathe....No need to rap right away...Let us all soothe ourselves....and relax....As Bink crafts an instrumental that will ultimately be the soundtrack music to the slide-show of Jay's life that we are gracious enough to see like a movie through Shawn Carter's words.
"Momma loved me, pop left me
Mickey fed me, Annie dressed me
Eric fought me, made me tougher
Love you for that my nigga no matter what bruh"
We are immediately let into the dim spots of Jay's familial past, which was alluded to back on songs like "You Must Love Me" and "Lucky Me" all on his 1997 album "In My Lifetime, Vol. 1". But the dimness soon becomes a SPOTLIGHT, when moments of clarity are shone on the struggles of life, and the communal, but hectic bond one shares with ones bloodline of...family...
"Momma raised me, pop I miss you
God help me forgive him I got some issues
Mickey cleaned my ears, Annie shampooed my hair
Eric was fly - shit, I used to steal his gear"
All are praised, and indicted by Jay, simultaneously. We all have our positives and negatives as individuals, even Jay doesn't spare himself in the act of storytelling, "East Trenton grew me, had me skippin school
Valencia's boyfriend Vovo had me makin moves".
This is REAL-LIFE SHIT! Drug Selling and crime! Not just a fabricated rap tale! And forced into these situations for a man to come out on TOP of society! We can see why his Momma Loves Him. The roots of his musical career are preened and examined as Jay scrolls back in his memory bank to give us revealing info,
"Kitchen table - that's where I honed my skills
Jaz made me believe the shit was real
Labels turned me down, couldn't foresee
Clark sought me out, Dame believed
Primo laced me, Ski did too
"Reasonable Doubt" - classic, shoulda went triple"
Analyzing himself, Jay-Z wants to know how you think, or even I, can analyze him, without living his life,
"Unless you was me, how could you judge me?
I was brought up in pain, y'all can't touch me
Police pursued me, chased, cuffed and subdued me
Talked to me rudely; cause I'm young rich and I'm black
and live in a movie, not livin by rules"
Wordplay isn't even a thought with that tongue twister of a paragraph as the REALNESS hits us the hardest. We all know Jay's the shit, par excellence as a rapper, but he goes that extra mile to give us reality in its purest form, to where we almost damn near know the guy personally.
Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek, Roc-A-Fella family, brothers from another mother, are encouraged as an older brother would give confidence to his younger sibling in these hard to digest, if you're the two rappers, but true nonetheless bars, "Bleek you're still with me - nigga what did I say?
The time is comin; you one hit away
Beans I ain't tryin to change you - just give you some game
to make the transition, from the street to the fame"
All that and Grandma's Banana Puddin' mark this as one of the most revealing tracks rap has had the honor of hearing and the crown, if not already firmly placed on Jay's skull, gets WELDED to his head after this "seeking for perfection and found it" music album. He will not lose.

BONUS TRACKS
"Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)" Produced By Just Blaze 5/5

We will do anything but "Breathe Easy" while listening to this track, a pure work-out, mentally, which will stiffen our physical muscles and make us sweat from the pure heat that Jay spits all over the track.
"I jog in the graveyard
Spar in the same ring
Now it's house by the building
Where Malcolm X was slain".
He's in for the long haul. While you all are sleeping and resting Jay's out working, he's the "Ghetto's Billy Blanks" for fucks-sake.
"Maintain your stamina
Hov will damage ya
Spot you two rhymes y'all niggas is amateurs
The fifth
A dead lift if
Niggas don't want to get shot then y'all niggas better squat
I drop your set for rep"
Do y'all understand the double meanings here?
Just Blaze produces a top 10 instrumental in music I've heard since 2001 here. The beat is a staple in the mixtape world for rappers to flex their own lyrical muscles upon. Cryptic with a bone-chilling piano playing in back with thumping bass galore, the music and the lyrics will leave you exhausted. In a good way. To spar with Jay is to spar with the best so you better,
"Bring your squad
Biceps, Triceps, and Quads
We don't struggle with undeveloped muscles"
another double meaning with the "muscles" bit. But yeah, A highlight of the album, even the fucking BONUS tracks are classics.
lol, "Rap on Steroids".

"Girls, Girls, Girls" (Remix) Produced By Kanye West 5/5
A nice way to close out the album, a great remix for one of the more standout songs of the album, the original Girls, Girls, Girls. "Trying Girls Out" by The Persuaders shines here as a perfect sample to be cut and looped and made fresh once again via Jay-Z and Kanye West. The songs fun and light and full of clever lines like, "so love Jay with your mind girl and not your heart
and some day I'll slow down, but for now I get around
like the late Makaveli or Perelli twenty inches
or Caine and O-Dog's stick up tape from Menace".
Jay is the master of balancing main-stream marketability that sells, and the pure punchlines that rap-heads love to read and hear.



In Summary, the album is a 5 out of 5, a 10 out of 10. And you're talking to someone who likes, and THINKS Nas "Stillmatic" is a better album, or a Ghostface Killah "Supreme Clientele". AND I also don't give out 5's or 10's generously or casually. But I can't deny greatness here and will just give the Camel-Man I mean Jigga-Man his just due. Props, just stop all that damn biting man. You're good without the bites.Jay-ZThe Blueprint

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