On THE BLUEPRINT 3, still unretired Jay-Z announces "the only rapper to rewrite history without a pen." It's a standard Jigga boast, but the Brooklyn icon has earned the bragging by backing it up, particularly on his gold-label, top-shelf BLUEPRINT series. Ever-ready for battle, Jay-Z takes on autotune, crossover radio, and many other hip-hop concerns with the gloriously jagged rap elan for which he's become known.
When Jay-Z first made a series out of his best album, 2001's The Blueprint, it became a game of high expectations. The first volume saw Jay-Z as vital as he'd ever been, storming back to the hardcore after a few years of commercial success. THE BLUEPRINT 2 took a different tack, with guest shots to compliment his sinuous flows. BLUEPRINT 3 is somewhere between the two, closer to the vitality and energy of the original but not without the crossover bids and guest features of the latter. Kanye West is in the producer's chair for seven tracks, and it's clear he was reaching for the same energy level as the original. "What We Talkin' About" begins the album with a wave of surging, oppressive synth, while Jay-Z enumerates (with an intriguing lack of detail) what he's said and what's been said about him, ending with a nod not to the past but the future (and Barack Obama). There's plenty more lyrical violence to come, but most of the targets are much safer than they were eight years earlier (i.e. opening single and smash hit "D.O.A. [Death of Auto Tune]" (railing against the oft-reviled '00s vocal-tweaking phenomenon is not quite as "politically incorrect" as Jay claims through song).
Simply put, the production's big-name solid, the rhyming on poing, as Jay-Z becomes more content with his dominance as a rap godfather in 2009.
- What We Talkin' About (featuring Luke Steele)
- Thank You
- D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)
- Run This Town (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West)
- Empire State of Mind (featuring Alicia Keys)
- Real as It Gets (featuring Young Jeezy)
- On to the Next One (featuring Swizz Beatz)
- Off That (featuring Drake)
- A Star Is Born (featuring J. Cole)
- Venus vs. Mars
- Already Home (featuring Kid Cudi)
- Hate (featuring Kanye West)
- So Ambitious (featuring Pharrell)
- Young Forever (featuring Mr Hudson)
- Jockin' (Rhapsody Bonus Track)