Someone once said, “Third time’s the charm”. I don’t who that person was or why they said it, but they could have been talking about music, like Jay-Z’s album “The Blueprint 3”. Although it was his 11th album, it was the third to bear the name “Blueprint” behind “The Blueprint” and “The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse”.
I remember that I didn’t really listen to a lot of Jay-Z when this album was released in 2009, but I liked the songs I’d heard before this. I do own “Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life” and I loved it, but rap can be really divisive, especially among fans. I’ve heard many singles and Jay-Z collaborated with Linkin Park on “Collision Course” where they mashed up six of seven songs together and I loved it! Find those six tracks and thank me later.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you. You’re far too kind…”
“Thank You” is a song that really highlights how I see Jay-Z. He’s a dude from the streets who was held to a street code. He found a way to get out of the hood and he’s successful. He’s changed his lifestyle and enjoys the high life, but this doesn’t mean he’s gone soft. He, as a person, hasn’t changed at all. He’s just found better ways to get generally the same results.
“Hovi baby, we are really high, really high tonight
We tip the waiter a hundred dollars to keep the ice cold, alright
We the last ones to keep the wise guys code alive
If I can't live by my word, then I'd much rather die”
This is the beginning of the album and it paints a great picture of Black Excellence. Where you are born can shape who you are, but you aren't restricted to its limits.
“Only rapper to rewrite history without a pen. No ID on the track - let the story begin…”
Normally, D.O.A. would mean, “Dead On Arrival” but in this case, we’re talking “Death of Auto-Tune”.
It’s my understanding that a lot of people believe that the use of Sound mod software like Auto-Tune has ruined rap and music in general.
“You n*ggas singing too much. Get back to rap, you T-Pain-ing too much” - T-Pain, of course, establishing his signature sound to Auto-Tune.
This sound is seemingly a playful condemnation of the Rap Industry and with this song, Jay is setting the example, which to me, Jay-Z is in that top shelf of the game; the Grand Tier of rappers and MCs who define the game.
I love a song that is self-celebrating. A song that is mostly about how greatest or awesome the artist is. You can listen to it and feel that same hype. Starting with the lovely vocals of Rhianna and closing with a feature from Kanye West (before he lost his hot damn mind), “Run This Town” is a hype song for Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s record label.
“We Are, yeah I said it We are! This is Roc Nation, pledge your allegiance” - answering the title question of “Who’s gonna Run This Town tonight?”
What else is there to say? Dope beat. Dope vocals. The lyrics are simple because you don’t want to cloud up the message about how great you are. When I hear the drums, it sounds like it could be a march; a call to action for your “troops”, if you will. Serves the purpose. Not everything has to be rapped fast or full of puns and double/triple entendre.
“I got a million ways to get - choose one”
Intro by famed producer and rapper Swiss Beatz, “On to the Next One” is a song, again, about how Jay-Z is not like every other rapper, he’s bigger than that. He’s on a different level. He’s beyond the game. Everything that you think is cool and trendy, he’s already on to the next one. The beat has this repeating “On to the next one” throughout the song - you could make an entrance with it, you know? When I’m enjoying rap music, I want to FEEL it. You could tell a story or just make a fun song that you instantly turn up when you hear it on the radio without realizing you’re doing it.
“Oh, they want to fall. Fall from the top. They want me to drop. They want me to stop. They want me to go. I’m already gone. The shit that I’m on, I’m already home”
If you can’t tell, most of this album is music about how Jay-Z is ahead of the curve of the Rap Game. Jay-Z is an innovator and he knows it and he isn’t afraid to make sure you know it too.
“Off That”, the track before this and after “On to the Next One,” tells the same story, how everything that you think is shiny and new, Jay’s already off that, meaning he’s already had that and passed that. “Already Home” follows the theme - what you are just now doing, I’ve been doing. What you just discovered, is old to me. “If y’all can already see. I’m not worried about y’all ‘cause I’m already me!”. See, that’s the self-confidence that I draw from not just this song but this album. That last lyric is especially meaningful. It reminds me not to worry about what others can do or the successes of the next man. I shouldn’t aspire to be anyone else because I’m already me and I’m awesome too!
I, like many, deal with a poor self-image and low self-esteem, but this album will remind you that you don’t have to be where everyone else is. You’re on your level and you should only be concerned with what you’re doing. What’s for you and already yours. You just have to believe it enough to get it!