This plan needed a few more drafts
production from Kanye West and Timbaland, and muffling his own voice in favor of a
which sounds like Mark Mothersbaugh filtered through a Super Nintendo. “Hate”
mines the nadir of hater-bating braggadocio while Kanye softballs some of the
worst verses of his career: “'Cause we too high up in the a-yur / we blastin' off
just like a la-zur," he spits, adding in his own lazer sounds to embarrassing results. The tracks without a featured guest
are even worse. On obligatory club number "Venus Vs. Mars," for example, Hova comes off as a creepy, sex-starved voyer.
of inspiration are few, but needed. Jay and Kid Cudi offer a cheery
point-counterpoint between swagger and introspection on the orchestral “Already
Home,” which is easily his most well-realized track since anything from
. And there’s a wry nod to hipster
hip-hop heads in Luke Steele’s backing vocals on synth-soaked opener “What We
Talkin’ About,” and the chopped-up sample of Justice on superb minimalist
screed “On to the Next One.”
But Jay gives the whole damn game away on “Young Forever,” an
Alphaville-sampling histrionic fit that may as well be the credit-montage music
to his biopic. It’s a thematic reprise of Kingdom Come’s “Beach Chair,” naked in its anxiety about his legacy.
The track rides Mr. Hudson’s crooning for a full minute before Jay launches
into a rhapsodic vision of his personal heaven: “Just a picture-perfect day
that lasts a whole lifetime / and it never ends 'cause all we have to do is hit
And there it is. This supposedly forward-thinking album is
just another facet of Jay’s post-“retirement” obsession with recapturing his
peak, finger forever poised on that proverbial rewind button. Blueprint 3 is the portrait of a rapper no longer able to lift
his eyes above his navel, or his swagger above the sartorial. He promised a
paradigm shift for hip-hop, and came to his own revolution armed with pastiches
and feigned indifference.
equivalent of Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, growling “get off my lawn.” Yet there’s no moment of redemption here,
only a musician who is, for all his protestations to the contrary, perfectly
content with mediocrity.
Listen to Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 in full here.