Acting as a promotional device for his newly released S.Carter sneakers by Reebok along with the future release of “The Black Album”, the “S.Carter Mixtape” features a nice collection of brand new freestyles and hard to find tracks over the years. While “The Blueprint 2” received mixed reactions, Jay- z promises a return to his roots with the final chapter in his legacy, “The Black Album”, a theme which was created by the late great Notorious B.I.G. And if Jay’s verses on “The S.Carter Mixtape” are any indication, Jay-z is well on his way to recapturing the throne he once held.
As with any mixtape these days, “The S.Carter” album finds Jay spitting over today’s hottest production, such as 50 Cent’s “If I Cant”, Joe Budden’s “Pump It Up”, The Neptune’s “Rock Star” & B2K’s “Bump, Bump, Bump”. While Jay was criticized the past two albums for his drop off in lyrical content, and his switching up in flows, the verses Jay puts out on this mixtape are proof that Jay is getting the message and is working on improving his flaws. While his flow is still erratic, and not quite as good as in years past, lyrically Jay is trying to improve, and while he is not there yet, he gives us some great verses, as seen on “Can’t Be Done” & “Rock Star”. Jay’s reworking of 50’s “If I Can’t” is probably the albums true highlight, as Jay’s verse over the Dr. Dre production is truly memorable. “I got a hundred niggas on my dick saying you outta, record like this or what have you, niggas is backstabbing you. Bitches mad at you, cause they cant have you…I’m the one, I’m not the two, not the three, not the four, not the five. I take the pain from my life and pour it all inside”.
Another standout effort from Jay comes from the controversial “Pump It Up Freestyle”, where Jay supposedly takes some hard jab’s at his young clone Joe Budden. “You Kobe maybe, Tracy McGrady, matter fact you a Harold Minor, Jr. Rider, washed up on Marijuana. Even worse you a Pervis Ellis, you worthless fella. You ain’t no athlete, you Shawn Bradley. I ain’t talkin to nobody in particular, my flow just vehicular, homicide when I’m kickin up dust” Of course Jay’s flow on this track is just sick!
Jay also takes it back for a couple of freestyles, resurrecting old classics such as Big Daddy Kane’s “Young, Gifted & Black”, Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear” & Dr. Dre’s hidden gem “Puffin On Blunts & Drinkin’ Tanqueray”. All of these tracks are solid efforts, but fail in comparison to some of the others. Especially on “Young, Gifted & Black” where Jay-z jacks one of the all time great Kane tracks, but his constant use of the word “there” & “here” at the end of every sentence gets irritating.
Besides the freestyles, Jay includes a variety of old and new tracks over the years. Included are the club hits of “Beware Of The Boys” & “Roc My World Remix” featuring Michael Jackson. The hidden gems of “In My Lifetime Remix”, “Black Gangsta” & Shai’s “I Don’t Want 2 Be Alone” are also nice inclusions.
Overall, “The S.Carter Collection Mixtape” is a must pick up for Jay-z fans everywhere. The album acts as a nice collector's edition, along with proof that Jay’s game is back on the rise, no matter the criticism. But the real test will be on black Friday 2003, when Jay-z plans to change the game again with his final studio release “The Black Album”. And while the speculation about producers for the album has had the industry up in arms, one thing is for certain. If we know Jay, he will come through with something great for his last release. See you in November!