Jay-Z The Blueprint 3(Roc Nation) Buy it from Insound
The Blueprint 3 is not a rap album. Fuck, Jay-Z isn’t even a rapper. He’s a business man and a business, man. Rhyme schemes, lyrics, rhythms, word play, flow, delivery. These things don’t even factor in during the creation of his music, outside of how they can be manipulated to make money. It’s dollar signs, profit margins, record sales, concert tickets, merchandising deals. This isn’t even an album. It’s a license to print money.
And hey, that fine. That’s how you got to make a buck these days in the music world. Since anyone can get anything for free at any time, you gotta feed the monkey some other way, and selling cars and phones is as good a way as any. And that is one thing Hov can do without effort. Anything dude touches turns to gold. Even shit.
What we have here, in The Blueprint 3, is a pop (not rap, mind you, but POP) record solely and completely focused on finances. In that respect, it is a massive success. All the big names, the big money makers, are present. Kanye West not only co-produces the album, he produces seven of the album’s 15 tracks and raps on two. Jay shares a mic with everyone from yesterday’s hotness (Young Jeezy) to today’s hotness (Drake, a still largely unproven commodity in my eyes). His hooks are sung by Rihanna and Alicia Keys. His anthems come from Swizz Beats, a fucking anthem guru. All of it amounts to a pile of songs that would sound kickass as the background music to a Lexus ad. Shit, product placement is all over this motherfucker (most obvious example: “If Hov’s a Blackberry Bold / Shawty is a Sidekick” on Venus vs. Mars).
Again, being a whore isn’t a deal breaker as much as it is a necessary evil for anyone trying to make a living. The real inexcusable thing about The Blueprint 3 is how boring and sterile it all sounds. Nothing here has any rough edges, any life, anything that makes the listener want to stand up and actually, you know, listen. Every path has been tread, every stone turned. Even the album’s lead single and main banger DOA (Death of Auto-Tune) is a flaccid, lifeless example of pop music eating itself: it does nothing but conjure painful memories of a time when Jay-Z still made legitimate hits (99 Problems, anyone?) and proves how far off the path Jay has strayed.
Look at his previous two albums. The first was a lame "return" from retirement; his second was an overwrought collection of gangster castoffs that only sounded lively because they were about something else. Jay-Z his completely mined his life story and squeezed every interesting nugget out of it. All that is left now is a millionaire talking about how rich he is as a way to make more money. If Scrooge McDuck were real, he would listen to The Blueprint 3 while doing laps in his pool of gold coins. Because that is the only demographic who would give a shit about the piss-poor prose Hov offers on this record. Despite what he claims on What We Talkin' Bout, Jay isn't rapping about life or drugs. He's rapping about himself, and how little he has left to inspire him.
Dude’s got nothing left to say. He told his story, he had his struggle, he landed on top, he basked in the sun, he retired on the top of the world and at the top of his game. Now he is reborn as a shell, a detached CEO who phones in lazy lyrics and uninspired stories for the sake of a paycheck and a run on youth-oriented pop radio.
I have no doubt that The Blueprint 3 will make a shit load of money, but there has to be a way to be a business man and still be an artist. If there is, Jay-Z shows no interest in finding it. And if there isn’t, we should all get the fuck off the bus right now.18 September, 2009 - 21:32 — Nate Adams