Even an online leak can’t keep a good H.O.V.A. down. After an initial release date of September 11, Jay-Z‘s latest album (his 11th to date), The Blueprint 3 will be hitting stores today. But should you buy it? That all depends. Blueprint 3 – the last of a three-volume collection – mixes old-school grooves with future-forward flare, raising the bar for artists both musically and technologically. But all the bells and whistles in the world can’t disguise the fact Jay-Z is following in the footsteps of artists like Kanye and Pharrell, rather than leading the charge as the king of hip-hop.
Produced by Timbaland, The Blueprint 3 is jammin’, jazzy, disjointed, and stumbles where it should soar. With so much build up and anticipation, you expect the best, yet you get something that doesn’t meet the expectations of previous offerings like The Black Album. Too much emphasis is placed on guest cameos (Alicia Keys, Rihanna, and Young Jeezy to name a few) and synth-tech sounds. While songs like “What We Talkin’ About” (featuring Luke Steele), and “Thank You” offer up laid-back rhythms and sexy beats, others like “Real As It Gets” amd “A Star is Born,” just fall flat and probably will receieve limited radio play.
Truth be told, The Blueprint 3 has Jay-Z‘s stamp and signature sound, but it lacks the gritty energy found in his previous offerings. Maybe he’s mellowed with age, or perhaps he’s attempting to separate himself from a field crowded by hungry twenty-somethings – whatever his thinking, there’s just too much of it here and not enough of him. Buy The Buleprint 3 if you need a fix, but skip it if you’re expecting the be wowed. You won’t find a “Girls, Girls, Girls,” or a “99 Problems” in the mix, but you will discover that an old dog can learn a few new tricks (with a little help from his friends).
– By Erin McClary