Album Review: Jay-Z "The Blueprint 3"

In an attempt to be hipper than she really is, the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana name checked other musicians in her recent hit "Party In The USA". In every performance of the song, she has kept the line "...and the Britney song was on", but in another verse, Michael, Kanye, and Jay-Z have all been swapped in and out. One of these things is not like the others.

Jay-Z has never been an artist for 14 year old girls to be particularly interested in listening to. His biggest radio hits have always been songs he tacks on a few rap verses onto ("Heartbreaker" with Mariah, "Crazy In Love" with Beyonce, and "Umbrella" with Rihanna), but scoring radio hits has never been something Mr. Carter seemed too interested in. Until now.

At a time when auto-tune has reached the point of saturation, Mr. Carter claims that it has jumped the shark in "D.O.A.". "Get back to rap, you T-Paining too much," he chides. Sure, criticism of something like auto-tune, which has found its way onto Burger King commercials and Mariah Carey songs, is perfectly acceptable at this point in time, but it seems pretty gimmicky. It lights the blogs up and makes Jay seem like a trend setter less than a year after 808s & Heartbreak dropped.

Speaking of gimmicks, "Run This Town" owes it success to Jay's choice of collaboraters in a way that B-list pop stars like Keri Hilson use them, not "the new Sinatra". It was a smart business move to enlist Rihanna and Kanye West, two veterans to the top ten, but both of them? In the same song? It just seems like selling out instead.

Blueprint 3 has its share of tracks that justify Jay-Z's continued dominance of rap. There's "Empire State of Mind", a collaboration with Alicia Keys that celebrates his hometown New York City and "Reminder", a cocky reminder that Hova has now passed up Elvis in number one albums. "On To The Next One" is the second attempt by a Carter to recreate "A Milli" (after Beyonce's "Diva) and it does a pretty good job.

The album's hottest tracks however are"Off That" featuring up and coming Drake and the OutKast-esque "Venus Vs. Mars". "Off That" begins with Jay welcoming listening to the future, and that's a pretty accurate description of the slick Timbaland produced track. Other than that, Blueprint 3 isn't a groundbreaking manifesto the way its predecessor was. Rather, its the soundtrack to a bored rapper in his 40s resting on his laurels. Maybe #12 will be different.

Rating: 7/10
Must download: "Run This Town", "Off That", "Venus Vs. Mars"


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