Jay-Z has just released his first album in years, 4:44 making a huge impact upon its release. Jay-Z may have fallen out of the spotlight in recent years, but back in his prime he was truly a force to be reckoned with. Jay-Z proved he was the top dog in The Blueprint, his 2001 release.
Jay-Z was all glam and glory back in the day, and he let it be known. Opening track 'The Ruler's Back' opens The Blueprint up on a glamorous note, Jay-Z coming in huge and really takes over all of hip-hop. He continues in 'Takeover,' and aggressive tone introduced where Jay-Z really gets savage and goes on a rampage. Jay-Z gets very aggressive on a lot of tracks, such as on 'Jigga That Nigga.'
There are several tracks that find Jay-Z talking about himself a lot, but not in a cocky way - most of the time. He does get a little uptight on songs like 'Girls, Girls, Girls' and 'All I Need.' For the most part, the music isn't too self-absorbed when Jay-Z references himself. 'Izzo (H.O.V.A.)' is the first track to run through his life, the old-school and iconic instrumental leading the way for the track. The final track 'The Blueprint' reveals that the entire album itself is an autobiography in a way. The song is about his upbringing and how it has made him what he is.
Much of the album deals with Jay-Z in the moment rather than his past, however. 'Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love)' has him saying there is more to him than just petty beef (which he does talk about in previous tracks on the record). Eminem joins the equation in 'Renegade,' the dark and aggressive track seeing the two tackle a more serious idea, with Eminem delivering some classic bars. There isn't a dull moment on the record.
Jay-Z proved he was the top dog in The Blueprint and truly solidified his legacy here. He defined hip-hop and rap and brought the past to a then-modern note at the end of the old-school hip-hop era. Jay-Z has always been a powerful voice in the rap world, and that continues to this day.
Favorite Tracks: Renegade, Heart Of The City, The Ruler's Back
Least Favorite Tracks: Girls, Girls, Girls; All I Need
Rating: 80 / 100