Album Review: Jay Z – The Blueprint 3

by David Price on September 7, 2009


I know, right, a hip-hop record leaking, impossible! NO, really it did. Despite the fact that Jay-Z traveled all the way to Hawaii to record, the Blueprint 3 is still leaked, someone must have got on an air craft with a copy, what is the TSA doing!

I got The Blueprint 3 kind of on accident. I am not a huge Jay-Z fan, more so of a Kanye fan, but by default I think that makes me a Jay-Z fan I guess. Kanye West produced a good sixty percent of this record. Jay-Z told Rolling Stone that he was bringing in a team of supper producers including Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and Kanye West and his protégé Mr. Hudson “if Timbaland makes ten great tracks then he produces the album, if Kanye makes ten great tracks then he produces the album; if he makes three, I’ll take three. I let the music dictate the direction” explains Jay. Apparently Kanye won, with Timbaland putting his name on only three tracks, “Venus vs. Mars,” “Reminder,” and “Off that.” Pharrell only throws down one track on this record via “So Ambitious.” From a production take on The Blueprint 3, there is a definite departure from typical New York Hip-Hop style while still holding down that BK grit.

Within this album I found a few cleverly hidden samples, some really obscure, “Someday in Athens” by The Four Levels of Existence in “Run this Town” and others a little more notable “D.A.N.C.E” from Justice is fairly notable in “On to the Next One.” Samples from Alphaville, Gladdy’s Allstars, Mother Freedom Band, The Moments, Janko Nilovic and Dave Sucky and Frederic Mercier can also be found on this record.

Of course what would a Jay-Z album be with out a laundry list of notable featuring artists. Kid Cudi, Alicia Keys, Drake, Young Jeezy, Rihanna, Pharrell, J.Cole, Luke Steele from Empire of the Sun, Mr. Hudson and ahhh I think I am forgetting someone… Oh yeah Kanye West, why would he produce a track without getting him self in on it at some point.

The Majority of The Blueprint 3 is typical Hip-Hop, tracks that would make great background music at a party with a few tracks really standing out to me. “A Star Is Born” might be my favorite, it relays heavily on the horn sample from “Touch Me” by Mother Freedom Band. For being produced by Kanye West this track is really simple, there are not a lot of fancy production fades and cuts that I do think that West is really good at but the simplicity of the horn and clap track layered with a chirps piano and smooth chorus make this track stand out.

“Empire State of mind” is another track worth mentioning, featuring Alicia Keys, this is the inevitable track off every Jay-Z album is this to remind you that he’s from New York City, in case you forgot, and he LOVES his city, in case you forgot. Well, I Didn’t forget but I was surprised that Mr. Z’s favorite track on The Blueprint 3 would also become one of mine. This song draws from classic piano rifts and punching drum machine, but what really makes me like this song is the chorus line delivered by Alicia Keys, it’s a short one but the end of the verses kind of build up to it and when Alicia Keys belts out the first note its one that makes you tingle! “In New York…” yeah it’ll get stuck in your head!

D.O.A. wasn’t just a internet single, even thought is was “leaked” by Hot 97 like six months ago, its proper place is track 3 on Blueprint 3. If you haven’t herd this thing you need to get out more! Seriously, this track spread faster then H1N1! Basically if  you like french films you’ll probably dig this track, it samples Janko Nilovic and Dave Sucky’s “In the Space”. D.O.A. or Death of Auto-tune addresses exactly what the name suggests: the over use of Auto-tune in the music industry. The idea of creating a song that was anti-auto-tune actually came from Kanye West after they recorded a song using auto-tune. Jay-Z stated that this song would be the “line in the sand” in a MTV interview back in June. After the success of the song Jay removed a finalized song off The Blueprint 3 that contained auto-tune. This track did more then just drawing a line in the sand, it kind of split the industry in half. Jay’s side claiming people don’t want to head auto-tune from people who use the technology as a crutch and then the other side claiming all kinds of non-scene, seriously, The Game claimed that Jay-Z is too old (he’s 39) to know what the industry wants, Game says “D.O.A.? No, T-Pain stays, old nigga goes” in a diss track released on a mix tape back in July. Anyways, lots of controversy behind this track so check it out if you live under a rock and have not heard it yet.

On a negative note, “So Ambitious” is straight up terrible! I think that Pharrell and The Neptunes need to hit a cut and leave the industry if there gonna keep producing the same freakin’ track every time. Oh, a brass section playing the same note driven by a super simple drum track a little simple piano and sugar coat it with Pharrell moaning, how original!  Seriously, change it up!

Overall this album will please the Jay-Z fans, it might not make new fans, there is not a “99 Problems” type track that’s going to make everyone stop and take listen but there is definitely a healthy helping of solid Jay-Z in The Blueprint 3.

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