Monday, September 17, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 18


Jay-Z still searching for right materials on latest, 'The Blueprint'

The Blueprint
Roc-A-Fella Records
*** (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, The Blueprint.

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 production of

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 album.

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 leaders.

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.

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