5 The Blueprint 3
Obviously he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. This is the third solo album released after The Black Album and although it’s his last to date, he’s still in the studio pumping out hits on collaborations. He might claim to be the best rapper alive, but greatness acknowledges greatness and Jay-Z does so on “A Star Is Born,” giving a nod to pretty much everyone in the game and clearly expressing an open invitation for new talent to surface. The production on “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” is perfectly appropriate, dissonant and cacophonous, and “Thank You” is directly addressed to the audience. “Run This Town” with Rihanna is pretty much as epic as hip-hop gets, rivaled only by “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys. This album is solid from beginning to end.
4 The Black Album
How apt is it to have a track called “What More Can I Say” and the cleverly sampled Gladiator quote “Are you not entertained?” Promoted as his final album, it’s unclear to me if he had seriously considered retirement, if it was a publicity stunt, or if he was taunting other rappers, pushing them to step up their games. Nonetheless, he certainly approached it as if he were stepping aside. With an abundance of sentiment and intensity he alludes to his life, his career, his accomplishments and his desires for the future. I know you know “99 Problems” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulders,” at least you do if you live in the first world and are reading this, but for a glimpse of the man behind the music pay attention to the lyrics on “Encore” and “Lucifer.”
3 Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter
Some things can’t get played out. Heavy rotation, overplay, overkill, it won’t matter. “Big Pimpin’”? Play it again. “Jigga My Nigga”? Have at it. Oh yeah… Do you remember Mariah Carey? That’s her on “Things That U Do.”Apparently she wasn’t played out either. Are you keeping up with me here, or did you just wake up and crawl out from the rock? Little kids in Nepal sing these tracks. This album boasts thirteen producers including Swizz Beats, Timbaland, DJ Premier, and Dj Clue, and yet the mans flow remains consistent throughout.
2 The Blueprint
What can my adjectives really do here? The man only shares the mic for a verse once on the entire album: “Renegade,” produced by Eminem. Other than that, this is pure Jay-Z for over an hour. I’m pretty sure “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” is the official world anthem and who in the world doesn’t love “Girls, Girls, Girls”? With all the drama outside the studio (do your research) it’s amazing he could focus and pump this album out. “Takeover”… ‘nough said.
1 Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life
Coming harder than past albums, this, his 3rd, really pushed the man into super star status. Not that his first two albums weren’t selling, actually they both went platinum, but Hard Knocks put the name Jay-Z up with some of the greatest of all time. That’s exactly where he’d stay. You better know “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”! Even your grandma loves thattrack; it could just be the memories for her, but regardless, from the club to your grandmother’s living room… That ought to tell you something. As for the rough edge, check out “Money, Cash, Hoes” with DMX and “Coming of Age (Da Sequel).”
The man, as I previously stated, has 14 albums; every single one of them is at least Platinum, most are multi-Platinum. So I’m sure I’m bound to have rubbed some one the wrong way. I’m sure you couldn’t do better anyway, but if you’d like to try, see if you can do so in the space of a text or Tweet. Good luck.