Jay-Z still searching
for right materials on latest, 'The Blueprint'
*** (out of five stars)
By Jake McKim
Daily Cougar Staff
"If I ain't better than (Notorious B.I.G.),
I'm the closest one," Jay-Z braggadocciously raps on his latest release,
He just might be right.
Jay-Z is not, and probably will never be,
as lyrically brilliant as B.I.G., but his stunning linear flows and crisp,
clever wordplay earn him a spot
with the best living emcees.
On The Blueprint, the Jigga Man continues
to make a case for elite status in the hip-hop world, simultaneously dissing
some of his fellow
Jay conducts lyrical warfare on rapper
Nas in "Takeover," in which he attacks Nas' character, his ability to rap
and his lack of success in the
form of CD sales.
This is clearly the genesis of what could
be a lengthy battle between the two.
But The Blueprint isn't solely hateful.
"Girls, Girls, Girls" is Jigga's ingenious, somewhat humorous ode to his
conquests across the world.
Part of the Brooklyn-born rapper's appeal
is his incredible handle of the English language. You can't help but marvel
at his ability to
manipulate words to his mission, a talent
that made B.I.G. so highly respected.
"I'm a hustler, I'll sell water to a well,"
Jay boasts on "U Don't Know."
Each track brings a fresh metaphor or line
that reminds you this isn't your average emcee.
"Hola' Hovito" once again pairs hip-hop's
greatest combo -- the eyebrow-raising flows of Jay and the on-another-level
It's sure to be an even bigger hit than
Jay's current single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," and its rock-driven, Spanish-influenced
bounce is undeniably the
most entertaining song on the 13-track
Surprisingly, the one guest rap appearance
on the album is Eminem's haunting production work and verses on "Renegade."
The powerful track is Jigga and Slim Shady's
way of pointing the middle finger at holier-than-thou religious and political
So at this point you're probably thinking
about running to your nearest record store and buying The Blueprint, right?
Well, hold on a second.
The Blueprint, like all of Jay's four previous
albums, is still incredibly disappointing to this critic.
With the mind-blowing lyricism Jay possesses,
The Blueprint leaves much to be desired.
As a hitmaker, Jigga is on top of the world.
But when it comes to producing a solid album (you know, one of those where
there isn't one song
you want to skip), he still hasn't found
the magic touch.
Maybe the trick would be to lock Jay, Timbaland,
Dr. Dre, the Neptunes and other elite producers in a studio and insist
they create the
greatest hip-hop album in history.
Don't laugh -- I'm convinced it would work.
But since the reality of that happening is about as likely as America losing
a war with Afghanistan,
we're stuck with merely decent albums
like The Blueprint that don't truly capture Jay's gift.
If you're a hip-hop consumer who is happy
with purchasing an album with six to seven good tracks, you won't have
a problem with The
If you're picky with your music-buying
choices, keep waiting -- Jay's one mind-blowing album is yet to come.