I know. I know. The title is misleading. I mean, I haven’t even heard Blueprint 3 in its entirety. How can I possibly write an album review?
But there is a “but”. Theres always a “but.” And here’s mine:
But...I have heard those same four underwhelming buzz generators leaked to the interweb over the past couple of months. And if “D.O.A”, “We Run This Town”, “Off That”, and “Reminder” are any indicator of how Blueprint 3 will ultimately sound, then the replay value potential looks bleaker than Memphis Bleek going platinum.
“D.O.A” with its commercialized rebellion and faux-trend-bucking represents supreme irony, if not hypocrisy, given that Jay-Z is a one-time president of Def Jam records. And that while El Presidente held office - where he truly was in a position to drive cultural change to the business and sonic side of this Rap Shit - he financially rode the major label bandwagon by pushing whichever Dirty South pump-faking drug-kingpin hard body. Translation: He didn’t do anything different from what was already in motion before him. He didn’t make any changes. And when he finally decides to address a Hip Hop issue, he chooses Auto Tune? Word???
“We Run This Town” is dope. Glad to have Rihanna back. Jay-Z drops two yawn inducing verses. And Kanye sounds like he finally surpassed his “Big Brother.” Not to mention that the track feels like T.I.’s “Live Your Life” which is a great thing if you don’t expect originality from your All-Time Greats.
“Off That” ushers in even more irony given that its supposedly about Jay’s futuristic lifestyle and always-ahead-of-the-game reputation but sports more stale swaggerific content (“Cashmere sweats / they come out next year / but they’re my last year sweats”) and a Timbaland beat circa 2006. Somewhere Justin Timberlake is waiting to break Drake’s other knee-cap for snagging his guest appearance. Unimpressive.
“Reminder” is a return to flossy Jay-Z bragging about his career legacy, dusting his shoulders off on all detractors. You know, stuff he pointed out on Blueprint 1, Blueprint 2, The Black Album, Kingdom Come, American Gangster. Stuff we’ve already heard before. Except the beat and hook are wacker than on any of the earlier editions. 0 for 2 for Timbo.
“But, but, but, but wait it gets worse...” - Onyx, “Slam”
Here comes the biggest problem. Take a look at Blueprint 3’s track listing:
- What We Talkin' About ft. Luke Steele of Empire of the Sun
- Thank You
- D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)
- Run This Town ft. Kanye West and Rihanna
- Empire State of Mind ft. Alicia Keys
- Real As It Gets ft Young Jeezy
- On To the Next One ft. Swizz Beatz
- Off That ft. Drake
- A Star is Bortn ft. J. Cole
- Venus VS. Mars
- Already Home ft. Kid Cudi
- Hate ft. Kanye West
- So Ambitious ft. Pharrell
- Young Forever ft. Mr. Hudson
As of today, Blueprint 3 stands 15 tracks in length. 3 of 4 of the leaked tracks are underwhelming if not unlistenable and expect “Run This Town” to get run into the ground by the end of September. Thats a quarter of the album already out of rotation! Plus, “D.O.A.” and “Run This Town” are back to back at track 3 and track 4 which means that - at best - I’ll rock the first two tracks then either skip or suffer through the next two tracks. Thats not a good ratio for the opening stretch on any album.
I haven’t heard the next three tracks, but “Real As It Gets” features Young Jeezy. Any track with words “featuring Young Jeezy” is an immediate red flag since the Snowman is subpar most of the time. And “On To The Next One” features Swizz Beatz which could be cool if the beat avoids sounding like the generic club soundscape he’s banked off of since “Upgrade You”. Which means if Jeezy gets an entire verse and Swizz delivers another “swing your Louie rag” two-crapper (I mean two-stepper), then The Company Man could find himself skipping 5 out of the first 8 tracks (including “Off That” at track 8)! But since I’m feeling positive today I’ll give Swizzy the benefit of the doubt. 4 out of the first 8 tracks! Toss “Reminder” on top of that and suddenly a third of the album is loaded with one-time listens!!!
We’re talking about replay value here. It doesn’t get any more important than replay value. The more you press “Skip” on an album, the less you want to listen to it again and again and again. And I’m an album cat. Singles are cool. Singles are played on the radio all the time.
But...I don’t listen to the radio either.