A friend of mine who works for the the press played me the whole Jay-Z “American Gangster” album the other day and I’m thoroughly impressed. It’s an instant classic, the new “Blueprint”. For a rapper, Jay-Z has been surprisingly consistent with delivery. Of all his original studio albums:
Reasonable Doubt (1996)
Vol. 1… In My Lifetime (1997)
Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998)
Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter (1999)
The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000)
The Blueprint (2001)
The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse (2002)
The Black Album (2003)
Kingdom Come (2006)
American Gangster (2007)
Most hip-hop fans will cite at least two as ‘classic’, 5 of 5 star albums (Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint), the majority of what’s left was extremely successful both commercially and critically. Of the remaining, only The Blueprint2 and Kingdom Come weren’t the critical or commercial successes everyone thought they would be. For a rapper with a career that’s lasted longer than a decade (or even five years for that matter), that’s pretty impressive. I can’t think of any other rapper (living or dead) who’s ever achieved the same kind of all around success with music.
Anyways, “American Gangster” is surprisingly good. Much like on “The Blueprint” the production is less commercial than Kingdom Come and more ‘hip-hop’ oriented. I wonder who else will surprise me before the end of ’07.