I love Jay-Z. There’s a lot to be said for the guy’s business acumen. From releasing his debut in 1996 on an independent label to serving as the president of Def Jam and owning everything from vodka brands to clothing lines, the man has definitely parlayed the little he was given into a hell of a lot.
Plus, the guy’s talented as shit. Unfortunately, a problem that’s plagued him since the beginning of his career is that he’s like the smart kid in class who is going to get “A”s and “B”s regardless, but doesn’t really apply himself. He doesn’t really challenge himself and the end result is that you end up with a talented kid turning in mediocre work. That’s Jay in a nutshell. For every “99 Problems” or “Kingdom Come” (the song, not the album), there’s something like “Blue Magic” or…well, half of “The Blueprint 2”.
…and the first leaked track from the upcoming “Blueprint 3” (Jay’s last before he departs Def Jam for Live Nation and a shitload of greeenbacks) is a shining example of a great rapper making shitty records. First off, considering Jay is pushing 40 and sitting in executive suites, it’s time to stop thinking that his art has any sort of resonance with young kids in urban communities. He’s out of touch. It’s time to grow his sound and his lyrics up a little, something that he showed a glimmer of on both “The Black Album” and “Kingdom Come”. I think “Kingdom”‘s relative failure rattled Jay a bit, because he seems to have regressed lyrically. The braggadocio and hustling talk needs to be put to a stop. Period.
Thankfully, there’s a delightfully minimalist Kanye West beat to keep the song from being completely unlistenable. However, this song does not bode well for Jay’s Def Jam swan song.