Every now and then, I come across an album here I just can’t get on board with, no matter how many times I try. Yes, I know Jay-Z is one of the most successful artists in hip-hop history. I also understand that he is one of the most successful producers and business icons in the music industry. The guy even landed Beyonce, what more could you want? And yes, I recognize that “The Blueprint” is the #50 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Even with all of that… I just don’t like it.
My primary concerns carry over from his last album to this one, and it all centers around his style as an MC. I don’t really enjoy the tone of his voice; I’m not sure if it is too high but it just isn’t an easy listen for me. As many times as he proclaims on “The Blueprint” that he is the king of flow, I find his rapping style to be very halting and stuttered, and as I told my son, it reminds as if he is reading the lyrics for the first time. And again, as I noted previously, he drives me a bit crazy with his constant grunting and “uh..mmm..uh..mmm” at the beginning and end of every song. I’m sure he would gladly laugh me off with his billion-dollar portfolio, but his music just isn’t for me.
I feel like my point is best proven during the song “Renegade”, featuring Eminem. Once Mr. Mathers takes the microphone, the contrast in rapping “flow” could not be more notable. This is my favorite song on the record, but that interest is spawned 100% by Eminem delivering us some top-shelf rapping after listening to Jay-Z for most of this album.
Even Timbaland can’t save this record for me. His beats were a major factor in the greatness of many records, but the song “Hola Hovito” is just flat-out annoying. “Girls Girls Girls” and “Song Cry” are two other songs I would quickly point to as exhibits of my frustration. Jay-Z proclaims that “If I ain’t better than Big, than I’m the closest one…”. He also spends time taking on Nas among others for supremacy in the New York City rap scene, but in my mind that is a complete mismatch, and not in Jay-Z’s favor.
I’m a big fan of hip-hop music, but as with every genre of music that exists, there are artists I enjoy more than others. Clearly Jay-Z isn’t for me, but I’m fine in knowing that I’m clearly in the minority here. Music appreciation is a subjective art, so I will wrap things up and move on to the next album with an open mind.