One year has passes since the brilliant release of “The Blueprint”, and a couple of months since the mediocre collaboration with R. Kelly called “The Best of Both Worlds.” Ever since Nas decided to flood the market with releases, Jay decided to not get left behind by releasing this quite awaited double CD’s. There has been a lot, maybe too much speculation on why this is a double album with fans all around the world questioning Hova’s ability to keep our attention for this long. The entire album contains twenty five tracks, which really isn’t any more then what No Limit threw at us each time around a few years back. The discs are tentatively called the Gift, and the Curse which allowed Jay to evenly place all the underground offerings versus the commercial.
I have to admit that the production on this album has been crafted to near perfection. There are so many good beats on here, it’s hard for me to name them all of without including almost three-fourths of the tracklisting in the review. “All around the world”, and “I did it my way” with a brilliantly flipped Frank Sinatra sample are both simply amazing. There is also the moody “Blueprint 2” which simply admits the defeat to Nas while quoting Austin Powers on the hook. Also let’s not forget “What they gonna do” feat. Sean Paul, which will soon become a sure hit at all clubs near you. This is exactly why I don’t understand the point of the recycled instrumentals from the original “Blueprint” on here. For an example peep the “U don’t know (remix)” feat. M.O.P.
As Hova starts lacking ideas and concepts, we are welcome to exhibit his copycat tendencies. Firstly the single “Bonnie and Clyde”, which takes the title from a much better track that Jay recorded earlier with Foxy Brown. I’m quite surprised that they didn’t just name this track “Me and my girlfriend.” The constant references to Notorious Big’s lines are so numerous, it’s only a matter of time until we receive a Jay-z version of “Life after death.” I also noticed the so-called king on New York quoting artists such as Nelly and Mase. Although the comparison to 2Pac on “Some people hate” is a bit too much, knowing well that if the man was still alive he would do nothing but spit in Jigga’s face.
“A ballad for the fallen soldier”, “A Dream”, “Meet the parents”, along with “Bitches and sisters” are the only concept tracks on the album with the last easily taking the crown. Out of the posse cuts “Poppin’ Tags” feat. Twista/ Killer Mike/ Big Boi and “The Watcher 2” feat Dr. Dre/ Rakim are the only ones worth mentioning. Even though Dre recycled the beat from the previous version it’s always a pleasure to hear Rakim rip a track to pieces.
The first CD is easily the better, with the artist feeling much more comfortable in a commercial setting. This album will surely please most of Jay-z recently gained fans, as long as for the most part they forget Hova’s advice to actually listen to the music instead of just skimming through it. As with Jay-z’s skills my opinion of him has changed, and crowning this man the king of New York now would be a disgrace to the city. The production team on the other hand should be handsomely rewarded for saving this release.