A new Jay-Z album! Aw snap! Let's have a listen, shall we?
I downloaded it, popped it on my iPhone, and listened to it front-to-back. When it was done, I was so pumped that I listened to the whole thing again. Over the weekend I listened to it a few more times. If I wrote my review after the first listen, it would have gone something like, "ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod". I'll be a bit more objective, rest assured.
On the surface, this is an enjoyable collection of tracks. As per usual, Jay has employed the hip-hop super-producers to provide him with beats, a list that includes No ID, Timbaland, Swizz Beats, The Neptunes, and Kanye West (yeah, MTV video awards, Taylor Swift, blah blah blah. I'm not interested in K West the paparazzi punching crazy person. I'm interested in quality production. Let's stay on topic).
The beats are, for the most part, top notch. I like hip-hop that doesn't sound like hip-hop. Tracks like "Death of Auto-tune", "Empire State of Mind", and "Already Home" mix in non-traditional hip-hop instruments like the piano, guitar, violin, and what sounds like a clarinet (shout-out to Anthony Pasalic, circa grade 6). You mix in hooks from Rihanna ("Run this Town") and Alicia Keys ("Empire State of Mind") and you can call it a day. Done!
So, here's where things start to head downhill. Jigga's lyrical flow is always fresh, but the lyrical content on this album is non-existant. There is only so much you want to hear about Jay-Z swagger. Track after track he keeps saying the same things: Critics can hate all they want, he doesn't care. Everyone is copying his style. Nobody is doing anything new except for him. Something something haters. Yawn. Where's the wit and the charm? Where's the deep introspection? It ain't on Blueprint 3.
Mix in annoying tracks like "As Real as it Gets" with Young Jeezy and "Thank You", and what you're left with is an okay album. Oh yeah, and Kanye's verse on "Run This Town"? Booooring.
I'm still going to have a few of these tracks on heavy rotation, like "On to the Next One". What is it about Swizz Beats that I find appealing? I'm sure I'm the only one that doesn't find this song annoying. A Keys on "Empire" is sick!
Have you heard the new album yet? What do you think?