Classic Material: The Blueprint - Jay Z

Posted On Monday, January 28, 2013

For the first installment of "Classic Material" (which is my breakdown of classic hip hop albums that have dropped between 2000-2011) we've got who I like to to call the 2nd nicest cat coming outta the Planet of Brooklyn....Jay Z with his sixth studio album, "The Blueprint."

Jay Z
“The Blueprint”
Released: September 11, 2001

When “The Blueprint” dropped I was done with Jay Z. I didn’t wanna hear anything else this dude had to say. The “In My Lifetime…Vol.1” album seemed to be the precursor of what was coming for Marcy’s finest (half of it was dope, the other half was wack…I mean a song with Black street AND a song with Foxy Brown and Babyface…REALLY?) and after “Vol. 2…The Hard Knock Life” I figured dude’s legacy was already being cemented in my mind as the dude who could’ve been the next one but decided to make radio jawns instead. And “Vol 3…The Life and Times” and that “Roc La Familiar” album didn’t do anything but help prove my point. Now don’t get it twisted, Jay had some songs here and there on all 3 of those albums that were legit but to me Jay is what me and my crew call a “game changer.” The type of cat who could make every album he drops, a classic…IF he wanted to. And to me it was OBVIOUS that Jay didn’t want to. So by the time “The Blueprint” dropped like I said, I was done. This was officially the first Jay Z album I wasn’t checking for. Yeah, I heard the first single “Izzo” which was dope but I wasn’t felling for the banana in the tailpipe anymore from Jay. The “I’m gonna drop a ill single and the rest of the album will be wack.” You know, the game Jay Z still runs on us to this day. Then one day I’m out and about and my dude Jas hits me up like “yo, you heard this new Jay Z album?” And I’m like “naw…I told you, I’m done with money.” And he’s like “yo…he’s back.” And if ANYONE else would’ve told me that, I would’ve hung up. But this dude Jas and me are like kindred spirits when it comes to music. We damn near agree of 90% of the game. So on my man’s word, I copped it. In fact, I copped it from Boders! Yeah, Borders bookstore and cats should know how expensive those CD’s are but if my man said Jay was back, then it was worth it. And after listening to “The Blueprint”…man, was it worth it!

I think there were two important things that made this album the classic that it is. Number 1 is Nas. I’ve always believed that Jay plays to the level of his completion. He’s like the best team in the NBA that’s on a 18 game win streak and then messes around and loses to the worst team in the league cause he couldn’t get up for them. When Jay dropped “Reasonable Doubt” (his other classic album) Jay KNEW he had to come with it. His Brooklyn brethren Biggie was the hottest MC in the game, Nas was still Nas, Pac was still Pac and hip hop was still hip hop. So Jay had to come correct, which he did. But then Pac dies and Big dies and Nas starts making songs with Ginuwine and the game starts changing and Jay inherits 4.5 million of Big’s fanbase and now Jay is the hotest MC in the game…and he knows it. So he starts getting lazy, rhymes aren’t as potnent as they used to be and his beats aren’t the bangers we used to love to hear Jay over. But outta nowhere Nas and Jay are having words? Word? This could be Jay’s chance to take out the last MC living who’s in his “who’s the best MC the equation (“who’s the best MC/Biggie, Jay Z or Nas”) from “Where I’m From.” Plus you got Prodigy from Mobb talking wreckless too?!?!? Now this is Jay’s chance to take down two of the Queens borough’s finest and that’s exactly what he proceeds to do with the “Takeover.” No need to go into the details cause the world has heard the song twenty times over but that HAD to be the illest battle song since Common went at Cube’s neck with the “Bitch In You.”

Now, my number 2 reason that this album in the classic that is because of Just Blaze and Kanye West, two relatively unknown producers. And you know the best thing about unknown producers? They’re hungry. If you’re a virtually unknown dude and you have a chance to produce damn near half of the biggest MC in the games album, you’re gonna come with you’re A game right? And that’s exactly what Just and Kanye did. I remember reading the liner notes like “who the hell are these cats with these beats?” It’s like those 2 were the 2000’s version of Primo and Pete Rock! And the fact that two unknown producers (who 10 years later are two of the biggest producers in the game) cooked up the 7 dopest of the13 tracks on the album going against established dudes like Timbaland, Bink, Eminem and the Trackmasterz (who dropped the only dud on the album) says a lot about what a hungry producer can do for a MC who’s against the ropes. But at the end of the day, whatever the reasons were, Jay comes through and gives us his 2nd classic album, that we’ve been waiting for since Reasonable Doubt. Salute.

My personal favorite song of "The Blueprint" is the Just Blaze produced "Song Cry." First things first it's a dope song with an ill concept. But if the average listener had ANY idea what Just had to do this sample and how many pieces he had to chop it up'd be your favorite too.

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