A Tale Of Two CD’s Part 1
I told myself I was not gonna speak on either of these LP’s for the following reasons:
1. Not that my opinion means a whole hell of a lot but I didn’t want to jade anyone against or for either artist and the direction they took these albums in.
2. I have been listening to the leaked copies of both for the past week and a half now (BP3 officially drops on 9/8 now, due to the leak & OB4CL II still drops on 9/8 despite the leak)
3. I wouldn’t want to ruin the excitement most feel from actually purchasing a release by two Emcee’s of this kind of caliber.
So in the interest of sparing the feelings of those that fall into any of the above categories, let me put in some warnings/caveats/advisories right about here:
1. If you like/love/stan/etc. for either one’s music good, bad or ugly and you aren’t going to take this post with a grain of the proverbial salt, don’t read any further.
2. These are my opinions and they belong to me. If you opinions differ, that’s fine by me.
3. You are welcome to agree or disagree in the comments.
4. You can say what ever you like in the comments, even if you feel like flaming, I could care less.
Now, with that out of the way…
I was going to attempt to review both albums in this post and keep it relatively short, sweet and to the point but this one is starting to look like a two-parter, starting with…
The Blueprint III
I’m pretty sure you are aware that every one has opinions by now, correct? Well, here are mine about an LP I was anticipating to be something monumental but my high hopes were quickly dashed to the rocky, jagged shores of subparness.
I woke up on Monday and started it as I normally do, checking TSR for comments, how many readers came by, other stats etc. along with checking Facebook, Twitter and μTorrent to see what goodies finished saving themselves to the hard drive whilst I was sleeping. My Gmail new messages icon was lit so I checked that as well.
It was a short message from one of my “Media Pirate” contacts claiming to be listening to retail version of The Blueprint 3. I sort of read it incredulously at first cause it hadn’t officially dropped yet but then again with the recent rash of singles from not only this LP leaking lately but other albums, the propensity of him having the whole retail version wasn’t too far fetched. Won’t bore you with the details of the thrill of the hunt but let’s just say I got me a copy, pronto.
I was so, so, so tempted to play it while I finished my morning routine but I let my better judgment and normal regiment of listening on my commute to the dayjob prevail. In order to do that though, I had to load it to my phone’s storage card. I quickly plugged in the HTC, did a quick Unzip, Click, Drag & Drop and let the Pentium processor do the dirty deed.
Ran down the steps, grabbed my bag, hit the door, got on the Public Transpo, sat down, avoided eye contact with the usual crazies, sent Wifey an “I Love You” text, put in my headphones and pressed play. The intro started…
Jay-Z – “What We Talkin’ About” feat. Luke Steele
I had peeped a live performance on HipHop DX of Jay spitting these same lines sans the banging Electro/Rock of the sampled song
Empire of the Sun – “Standing on the Shore”
the same group that Steele is also the frontman for. Ok, the intro is impressive and seems promising doesn’t it? It’s been a while that we’ve gotten that type of Jay-Z verse, right? As I made my way to the dayjob through the streets of the QC, track two started
Jay-Z – “Thank You”
Another more than decent effort from Hov. I’m diggin the vibe of it plus the nonchalant cadence and wordplay reminiscent of say maybe…Slick Rick. Not to mention the production is not over the top but not too understated at the same time and Jay’s last line is just for lack of a better term, bananas.
Moving right along, as I reached the transfer station uptown, my ears were greeted by “D.O.A. (Death Of Autotune)“, which I’ve heard via radio and seen the video of too many times to make many statements here about. Let’s just say the only thing that really grabs me is the original song that No I.D. sampled it from
Janko Nilovic & Dave Sucky – “In The Space”
The production is incredible and Jay’s rhymes are aight on it. I guess my real issue is that the topic had already been broached by Roger Riley & Teddy Troutman with their Death Of Autotune Mixtape (click that link to get yourself a copy) via FWMJ over at rappersiknow.com (site’s down right now for some reason) but didn’t make it on many people’s radars last November cause it wasn’t being said by someone as instantaneously recognizable as Jay. Ok…off the soapbox for a minute on that one.
As I boarded the transfer coach, the much talked about “Run This Town” feat. Kanye West & Rihanna, began. I couldn’t find the skip button fast enough. Not that I don’t like the song but it’s just another track crafted strictly for the radio. I will pause here to state that Kanye’s verse was well done. It’s actually refreshing to hear him spit flames again after that 808 and Heartbreak LP. I also have to agree that he actually outshines Jay on his own song this go round. I was talking to Dubbs Lane about that a few weeks ago. He stated and I quote, “Jay was way too cryptic with his lines. No one knows WTF he’s talking about on this song“, end quote.
I also happened to speak with insideplaya about this song on Facebook too. He told me “Kanye is a little closer to a more universal experience on a daily basis. Jigga is living an increasingly larger and larger life but it’s making his flow narrower and narrower. Love his get down in general though.”
I have to agree. Notice I didn’t add the stream of either of those.
Getting closer to the the job and another song starts
Jay-Z – “Empire State Of Mind” feat. Alicia Keys
I’ve been upstate before, well never to NY but to NJ many a time as the Ex-Wife is from Newark and Wifey is from South Orange, so I’m kinda familiar with an upstate mind frame though I don’t hail from the area at all. Given the convos I’ve had with the many other people I know from the area or surrounding, this one sounds like the same kind of mentality they have when it comes to reppin’ for NY. Genius move of Hov to put A. Keys on this one as well as it solidifies the whole track.
Almost to my place of employment, a familiar voice joins Jay on “Real As It Gets” feat. Young Jeezy. This is where Jay starts to lose me here. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the Jeezy addition but I can’t stand his voice, cadence and of course the over abundance of ad-libs he prescribes to. Though those trademark ad-libs didn’t make too much of an appearance on this track and his lines were pretty decent, I still can’t and won’t subscribe to his fan club. We won’t talk about Jay-Z’s lines either. Not that they were bad but Jay is nicer than Jeezy IMHO any day of the week. Lets just say despite the decency of Jeezy’s flow on this one, he still didn’t have to try hard to outshine him. Again, no stream of this one either. I just can’t bring myself to do it, plus you mos def want to hear the next one anyway…
Stepping off the coach, my lobes are litterally attacked by the strains of a Synth/Crunk mash-up. I had to look at the player to make sure it was still playing the same album
Jay-Z – “On To The Next One” feat. Swizz Beatz
*insert deadpan face here*
Ummm…WTF just happened? Did I miss something? Is this Jay’s way of giving Southern Hip-Hop an NY pass? Did he just do it to say he did it? The answers to those and any other questions this brings up really don’t matter cause the song is radio friendly trash to me. Not just for the production either, I just don’t really care to hear Jay on this kind of beat. It didn’t come off as innovative as he may have wanted it to. I mean, I expected Jay to try some new things and break out of his mold for this LP but this was trite, un-impressive and mos def not groundbreaking.
So you’re from NY and you get on a Crunk type of track, so what? What’s the difference in this and what Jadakiss has been doing for the last five years?
Arriving at the job, I still had around 30 minutes before I had to walk through the door. I decided to sit in the break area and listen to a few more tracks. Next up after the last debacle
Jay-Z – “Off That” feat. Drake
which was actually ok??
Wait, stop the presses. Let me go on record first as saying that I don’t particularly care for Drake’s music too often but I can tolerate him a little better than most of these “New Age Rappers“. That being said, I like the fact that Jay didn’t let Drake take this song over, keeping him strictly to hook and bridge duties. Jigga really didn’t need help with the rhymes as he lays down the gauntlet on this one here and even throws a few twisty-words in for good measure and effect. Plus the track production was sick and if the rest of the LP’s tracks were as layered as this one it might have held my attention more.
Alas, they really aren’t though. Now I normally will listen to a new LP at least once all the way through whether I like a song or not and I honestly tried to do that but I found myself skipping the next set of songs a minute or so into each one. They just didn’t hold any real interest for me and became background noise/fodder as my thoughts strayed to what I would have for lunch that day, how many VM’s I had on the office phone waiting on me, etc. I wasn’t pressed for time to arrive at work either, I still had a good fifteen minutes left and was just ten steps away from the office door. They were just really lackluster for me.
Then right as I was walking in the office, it happened…I heard the familiar strains of
Alphaville – “Forever Young”
taken from one of the funniest and most quote worthy films of the last six years, Napoleon Dynamite. This song was the one playing during the Prom scene, if you’ve never seen the movie. Easily making it one of my favorite songs of all time, just for the nostalgia of it cause I’m such an 80’s freak. That being said imagine my disgust, not at the loop as that wasn’t half bad
Jay-Z – “Young Forever” feat. Mr. Hudson
but at the utter lack of conviction in Hova’s flow, lyrics, concept, etc. In short, the song sounds like a Mid-Life Crisis gone wrong. It’s almost like this song is supposed to be his new version of
Jay-Z – “Momma Loves Me”
with the difference being, that song of reflection was hot and always will be but this new one? Not so much.
Ok, so in summary, Jay’s new effort is for all intents and purposes a new LP and should be treated as such. It is new material, he did try new things and it has enough money behind it to convince any casual listener that he is still the Mike Jordan of Recordin’. So listen to it with fresh ears, an open mind and all of that.
For new fans or those into the new crop of rappers dominating the airwaves these days, there is something on there you will mos def like/love. More power to you. I for one just can’t do it.
For older fans of Jigga, there are still a few decent tracks to get into, but don’t go into this one expecting him to cater to your ears this go around. It’s just ain’t happening…. unless you’re in some kind of Mid-Life “I still think I’m 20yrs old, even though I’m pushing 35 and wearing skinny yeans” Crisis yourself.
If so, you’ll be all over it and giving me the Side-Eye when I see you in the Street/Twitter/Facebook, while trying to convince me I’m a Hater/Music Snob/Harsh Critic of the God Emcee. Which is fine…I probably won’t be paying attention anyway…I’ll be too busy humming
Jay-Z – “I Can’t Get with That”
to even care…
Alright, that’s outta the way now. Part 2 about Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II is up next…