The man can simply do no wrong. Shawn Carter continues to win in this hip-hop game, with at times, seeming as if he's barely trying. He returns with a peculiar album, that seemed to be quite rushed, a step away from his series of Volumes, he calls this one the "The Dynasty: Roc La Familia." Whatever that means. Word is that he is trying to escape his distribution deal with Def Jam, and continue to produce music from his sole Roc-a-fella imprint. This finished product is far from a forced rush job, it is a magical piece of music.
One thing that stands out most on this album is the production. Not that it is completely incredible, or a complete disappointment, that this album is produced by a bunch of virtual no-names. What this means in effect, is that the budget for this album was miniscule, meaning that Jay-Z is going to make an immense monetary killing on this release. The album is one peculiar track after another, whether it's a unique production style, or an artist you'd never expect to pop up on a track with Jigga.
The album has a tremendous pace, if a track happens to hit a roadblock for the listener, the next song will pick up the pace and continue on the road to satisfaction. Mr. Carter certainly picked his first single perfectly this time around, he chose 'I Just Wanna Love You(Give It To Me)' as the A-side backed with 'Parkin' Lot Pimpin,' and take your pick here, he hits us in the head with two tunnel bangers. Admittedly,I found the A-side to be quite corny, and almost laughable the first few times around the block, then I really sat back and listened to vibe he was on and now I can't stop listening to it. The B-side was an immediate favorite, everyone steps their game up on 'Parkin' Lot Pimpin' good luck picking an artist who stole the show on this track.
This is a special album, you may not realize it at first, but word is that Jay-Z feels this to be his best album to date. That is quite an earth-shattering claim, but can you really argue with the man? While this album doesn't have many tracks that will floor you and leave you rewinding time after time, it has a breakneck pace that continues to pick up as the release moves along. I almost feel weird calling this a Jay-Z solo album, as its billing states, the rest of his Familia pop up on nearly every track to drop a verse, or add their input. That is a bright light for the Roc-a-fella family, everyone has moved the bar up a notch, each beginning to create their own niche in the game.
Shawn Carter is a special person, he creates music that can move us in any number of ways, whether it's hitting us in the head with a lyrical barrage, or tweaking our brain with mathematical metaphors, he knows which buttons to push. He has his obligatory blatant crossover record on this album, it's entitled 'Soon You'll Understand,' I can't quite place the vocal sample, but this is a moving record, which will hopefully reach more than the average hip hop fan.
This album contains its share of hot joints, and is held together with solid filler tracks. That is the problem with so many albums today. They have their buzz records, but then the filler fails to hold together the material inside. This album steps away from the norm, every track holds a sort of purpose, and pushes a different button for each listener. The most notable non-Roc-a-fella appearance belongs to Scarface on 'This Can't be Life,' which sounds like it could have been included on 'Reasonable Doubt.' And Jay has the blatant Funk Flex favorite in 'You, Me, Him, Her,' a bouncy track in which everyone clearly holds their own.
I've done nothing but praise this album, why can't I give it a 10? Well, picky reasons stop me from really giving this album a perfect score. Snoop Dogg's appearance does fit the track he rhymes on, but overall he is immensely out of place. Time has passed the Doggfather by, can anyone argue? I would have to subtract a bit for the fact that he didn't shake down Primo or Timbaland for any tracks, this puzzles me, but obviously Shawn Carter has a master plan, and we all aren't ready for the final chapters just yet.
Most artists fall into a slump somewhere along their journey, or career in the music industry. Where is Jay-Z's slump? He has banged out quality music since day one, it's arguable to say he has ever pushed out anything less than 4 mic-worthy. Peep the way Jay spits on 'Squeeze First,' and you should have no question in your mind that he continues to ride the wave of brilliance. Whether Jay will drop a lyrically heavy track, or a content heavy record, he comes correct every single time around. Try and argue with that one.