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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jay-Z: BP3

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor Nick Carrabine is a News-Herald staff writer.

“Ten No. 1 albums in a row, who better than me?
Only The Beatles, nobody ahead of me
I crush Elvis and his Blue Suede Shoes
Made the Rolling Stones seem sweet as Kool-Aid too
‘96, ‘97, ‘98, ‘99
2000, 2001 and beyond
‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05
‘06 and ‘07, ‘08, ‘09
Back-to-back, double plat’, I did what you won’t
Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t
Ain’t nothin changed for me except the year it is
I think I have to send you a reminder, here it is”

-Jay-Z on “Reminder”

It’s a sad day when my favorite song off an album is the album’s first single.

When I heard Jay-Z’s D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune) for the first time (which seemed like months ago) I was taken back.

It was such a laid back beat surrounded by a clarinet and an electric guitar with the rapper rhyming about the downfall of hip hop music thanks to so many artists using auto-tune (See: T-Pain.)

“This is anti auto-tune, death of the ringtone,
This ain’t for iTunes, this ain’t for sing alongs
This is Sinatra at the opera
...I know we facing a recession
But the music y’all making gonna make it the great depression
All y’all lack aggression”

I had anticipated The Blueprint 3 for months before hearing D.O.A., and once I heard it, it revved up my expectations.

Sadly I find BP3 vastly disappointing after listening to it front to back multiple times.

While he makes no secret about it, Jay-Z is going for a futuristic-type rap sound on this album, which is frustrating.

When you’re releasing your 11th album and are already considered a living legend, the *blueprint* of making an album should be simple.

At 39-years-old, I feel Jay-Z is too old (not in age terms, but musical terms) and far too successful to be doing any sort of this experimental rap that younger guys such as Kid Cudi and Drake are doing.

Speaking of which, Jay-Z is far too experienced and far too successful to be relying on guest appearances from the two aforementioned rappers on this album.

I would quote a line from Nas’ “Ether” when he talks about Jay-Z bringing in a trendy rapper to appear on his album, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for this blog. (Speaking of Nas, he reportedly turned down an offer to appear on “Empire State of Mind”)

There are some good songs on this album, but BP3 doesn’t even come close to meeting any sort of expectations I had for it. The beats are too futuristic for me and it’s far too experimental for my taste. Lyrically, I wouldn’t say the rapper is at the top of his game, but he still proves to be superior to 90 percent of the other rappers out there today.

What’s even more unsettling is, this album has been in production for more than a year, which normally exceeds the amount of time Jay-Z spends making his other albums that I find far better than this.

I’m not ready to shove Jay-Z out of the hip-hop door just yet and obviously neither are his fans as BP3 sold more than 400K in its first week — which is the rapper’s 11th straight no. 1 album putting him as the only solo artist in history to achieve that feat (Elvis had 10.)

But what’s more scary is, he told earlier this month that his next album will be his “most experimental ever.”

I don’t know how much more Jay-Z experiments I can take after BP3.

D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune)**LeBron James appears in the video at 3:45. Harvey Keitel also makes an appearance.


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