With three decades in the game, Jay-Z has one of the longest standing hip-hop careers of all time. Through the years he’s always remained relevant and impressively so. His discography boasts with timeless works like ‘Reasonable Doubt,’ ‘The Black Album,’ ‘American Gangster’ and most recently ‘4:44,’ to name a few. He’s never made a bad album. Even the best of the best like Eminem and Lil Wayne have had an off album or two but not Jay. It’s this impeccable consistency that’s earned him the title of ‘Best Rapper Alive.’ Some would argue but few could truly contest. He hasn’t been in the game for decades just frolicking through the industry, making meaningless music but he’s indeed spent every album perfecting his sound, imbuing his lyrics in metaphors and wicked wordplay and garnering yet another title of “Billionaire Businessman,” one of the first ever in hip-hop to do so. Hov is a fabled, ageless and legendary musician and he deserves that same acclaim as a businessman with his hands in pots from sports all the way to retail. He’s the epitome of Black Excellence, no doubt, now let’s hop into one of his most revered works, ‘The Blueprint.’
Almost 20 years ago, Jay-Z released what’s been considered as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Many people love his ‘Black Album’ and regard it as one of his best works, however, I believe it’s one of his most commercial projects, but ‘The Blueprint’ gifts us grit, personality and that esteemed swagger. Laced in 15 tracks including classics like the Grammy-nominated “Song Cry” and anthems like “Girls, Girls, Girls,” amid production from Just Blaze and Kanye West. This album thumped from car stereos and blasted from nightclubs nonstop. Furthermore, during its opening week this album sold over 425,000 copies and debuted at number one in the U.S for three weeks straight. Additionally, earlier this year ‘The Blueprint’ was added to the Library of Congress archives, this album is literally a recognized piece of American history! He also received the Soul Train Award for ‘Best Album of the Year.’ Simply put, Jay-Z isn’t just some rapper from Marcy Projects, he’s a living icon and albums like this one prove his reach, notoriety and world-wide praise – a giant leap for hip-hop. When you consider the number of accolades this genre has earned, one would think that it’s an old genre but that’s not true. Hip-Hop isn’t as old as you think. It’s a relatively new genre considering, with a recognized birthday of August 11th, 1973, the genre is about 46 years old and look at the greats its birthed from Grandmaster Flash to Meek Mill and of course the legendary Jay-Z.
This album released almost two decades ago but it’s still a staple piece in hip-hop. He intrepidly opens the album with his Hip-Hop thrown take over record “The Ruler’s Back,” where he raps, “I, Young 'Vito, voice of the young people / Mouthpiece for hustlers, I'm back motherfuckers /Your reign on the top was shorter than leprechauns, Y'all can't fuck with Hov', what type of X y'all on?” He’s proclaimed that he’s the greatest from the beginning and has backed it up album after album after album, millions after millions, business after business – a self-made mogul. ‘The Blueprint’ also includes one of his most therapeutic and diary-like records to date, “Song Cry,” where he raps, “I can't see 'em comin down my eyes, So I gotta make the song cry.” It’s that vividly metaphoric pen that divorces Jay from the modern-day heap of fly-by-night rappers. A pen like Hov’s is sculpted overtime not rushed. Some people just make hip-hop music while others like Jigga, embody hip-hop and welcome any and all competitors. The Brooklyn bred emcee isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with other heavy hitters, like the iconic Eminem on “Renegade,” which is still regarded as one of the best collaborative efforts in hip-hop. While colorful additions like “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Izza (H.O.V.A)” and “Hola’ Hovito” truly gleam in his personality, bringing forth fun vibes without compromising lyricism. Each record on this album is a banger, no fillers just pure heat from beginning to end. He delivers personal narratives, cocky overtones, grit, quality production and originality of the highest scale. When you think of good rap music, Hov leads the pack and with this famed body of work he gifted other emcees the hip-hop blueprint.