Monday, December 16, 2013

The Jay Z Project Part 7: The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse

After 2001's classic "The Blueprint", most probably would've thought Jay would've took a hiatus after that, but that wasn't the case. Moreso than anything, one of the main reasons I anticipated this one more than others I know was due to the fact it was his first double album. I'm usually a sucker for double albums, and getting one from a long time favorite MC of mine was good news. So with that being said, let's get to it!

Release date- November 12, 2002


Disc 1 [The Gift]

Featured Guests
Faith Evans
Truth Hurts
Sean Paul
LaToiya Williams
Big Boi
Killer Mike 

Behind The Boards
Just Blaze 
Dr. Dre
Kanye West
The Neptunes
No I.D.
Jimmy Kendrik
Big Chuck

1. A Dream

Jay's first verse on this opener is probably one of the more underrated verses he's ever done. He talks about a dream he had, having a conversation with Biggie and what he was told in the process. Whether it was real or not, I liked Jay's lines and delivery. Add in Faith Evans on the hook and Biggie's memorable first verse from "Juicy", you get a nice opener. 
*5 out of 5*

2. Hovi Baby

"I'm so far ahead of my time, I'm bout to start another life/Look behind you I'm bout to pass you twice/Back to the future, gotta slow up for the present/I'm fast, niggas can't get pass my past/How they propose to deal with perfect present"

Don't get me wrong, I've always liked this song, but it grew on me a little bit more once I revisited it. Jay's 2nd verse is simply great. Very good song.
*4 out of 5*

3. The Watcher 2

First off, mad props to the talented Truth Hurts for the hook. Now, the first "Watcher" from Dr. Dre's "2001" is dope, but it obviously doesn't hold a candle to this, THE best song on this entire album in my view. All of the makings of a classic are here: my #2 and #3 (Rakim) favorite MCs of all time on the a TIGHT track produced by my #1 favorite producer of all time (Dr. Dre). The only thing missing was Nas, lol!!
*5 out of 5*

4. 03 Bonnie & Clyde

Hov and B begins right here. Some people took issue with Jay using 2Pac's "Me & My Girlfriend" (on Pac's version, his girlfriend was his "gun"). I didn't see what the issue was, as it's a good song.
*3.5 out of 5*

5. Excuse Me Miss

"Either she the one or I'm caught in the matrix/Well fuck it let the fish burn (Fishburne)"

Only for the grown and sexy indeed. I guess it was only fitting that this smooth cut came right after song 4. 
*3.5 out of 5*

6. What They Gonna Do

This song is good, however, I wasn't feeling Jay's chemistry with Sean Paul.
*2.5 out of 5*

7. All Around The World

We all know Jay has been all around the world, and likely is still doing it. Ms. LaToiya Williams provides a soulful, feel good vibe on a song where Jay is talking about his activities in and out of the country, lol. It's all good though.
*4 out of 5*

8. Poppin Tags

This apply titled song is very good, featuring good performances by all involved. Jay vibed well with Big Boi, Twista and Killer Mike.
*3.5 out of 5*

9. Fuck All Nite

I know this one wasn't meant for comedy, but I found myself laughing a few times throughout. Apply titled or not, this was not one of the better Jay-Z/Neptunes collaborations, could've been left on the cutting room floor too.
*2 out of 5*

10. The Bounce

I like this one right here. Timbaland's beat does make you bounce.
*4 out of 5*

11. I Did It My Way

It definitely goes without saying that with everything Jay has accomplished in his career, he did it his way. That's expertly expressed in this closer of disc 1.
*4.5 out of 5*

Disc 2 [The Curse]

Featured Guests 
Lenny Kravitz
Beanie Sigel
Young Chris
Memphis Bleek
Young Guns
Peedi Crakk

Behind The Boards
Ron Feemster
Big Chuck
Heavy D
Just Blaze
Kanye West
The Neptunes

1. Diamond Is Forever

"Throw them diamonds up!"

Disc 2 opens with this excellent song. Jay is showing love to the ROC and declaring their name to last forever at the same time.
*4 out of 5*

2. Guns & Roses

"Flowers need water to grow, it gotta rain/In order to experience joy you need pain/Every time a baby is born somebody's slain/You know the saying, somebody's loss is another's gain"

Jay and Mr. Kravitz brought it nicely over Heavy D's rock styled production, a true highlight.
*5 out of 5*

3. U Don't Know (Remix)

This is a dope remix. At the time I was very happy for M.O.P., one of the most underrated duos in hip hop. Being with the ROC, I thought they would finally get the recognition they deserved. That unfortunately didn't happen and to this day I'm not sure what happened, and who knows, maybe M.O.P. were too aggressive for the label. Overall it definitely is a glimpse at what could've been.
*5 out of 5*

4. Meet The Parents

Jay flexes his strong storytelling muscles, referencing the unfortunate, tragic ending of the life of a young boy. Must be heard to be appreciated.
*5 out of 5*

5. Some How Some Way

Realistically speaking, at this point, it was late for Jay, Scarface and Beanie Sigel to be rapping about "making it out the hood", but I get the thought process behind it. 
*3.5 out of 5*

6. Some People Hate

To all my haters and detractors, this song's for you. Thanks for continuing to make me grow bigger and stronger due to your actions. -Sincerely, Jay-Z.
*4 out of 5*

7. Blueprint 2

Ennio Morricone's "The Ecstacy Of Gold" is used NICELY by Charlamane for Jay to call out his critics, and even Nas.

"I put real dollars on mine, ask Columbine/When the twin towers dropped I was the first in line (that's real)"

"Donating proceeds off every ticket sold/When I was out on the road, that's how you judge Hov, no?!/Ain't I'm supposed to absorbed with myself/Every time there's a tragedy I'm the first one to help/They call me this misogynist/But they don't call me the dude that take his dollars and give gifts to the projects/These dudes is all politics, depositin checks to put in they pocket/All you get in return is a lotta lip"

So even when he does something positive, it's not good enough. I can almost hear the frustration in Jay's voice, and if I was in a similar position, I would feel the same way.

"And y'all buy the shit, caught up in the hype/Cause a nigga wear a coofie it don't mean that he bright/Cause you don't understand him it don't mean that he nice/Just mean you don't understand all the bullshit that he writes/Is it Oochie Wally Wally or is it One Mic/Is it Black Girl Lost or shorty owe you for ice"

"I gave you life when niggas was forgettin you emcee(d)"

Yes, he did call out Nas for some of the contradictions that had followed him throughout his career. I also agree that Jay did light a fire under Nas after "Takeover", and I'm sure Nas would agree too. Jay mentioning those 4 songs also showed that even in battle, he did listen to Nas behind the scenes, and/or "did his research", as he called it.
*5 out of 5*

8. Nigga Please

Quit trying to what those on the ROC were doing, lol, it won't work. Just listen, lol.
*3 out of 5*

9. 2 Many Hoes

Usually a Jay-Z/Timbaland collabo brings damn good results, however, this is not one of them and it easily could've been left on the cutting room floor along with "Fuck All Nite".
*1.5 out of 5*

10. As One

On paper, this may have looked good, because you went into it thinking it would showcase the rest of the ROC's roster at their best. That wasn't the case here, and it's probably one of the least inspired "posse cuts" I've ever heard. Sadly, the beat and the hook didn't help either.
*2.5 out of 5*

11. A Ballad For The Fallen Soldier

"The one thing a hustler and a soldier have in common is a mother's pain"

Jay dedicates this one to the hustlers and soldiers, all while drawing an interesting comparison between the two, who have fallen over the years, domestic and international.
*5 out of 5*

*12. Show You How

The first of three bonus tracks, this was decent, nothing more.
*3 out of 5*

*13. Bitches And Sisters

Jay hilariously and accurately describes the obvious differences between "a bitch" and "a sister". 
*5 out of 5*

*14. What They Gonna Do Part II

This was better than the Sean Paul assisted one. Same lyrics and a better beat.
*4 out of 5*

A few months afterwards, Jay released "Blueprint 2.1", which was comprised of one disc of this album's best material, along with a few bonus tracks. Some may have felt "Blueprint 2" was too bloated and it would've easily been better by being a single disc album. I respect that, but I was satisfied at the end of the day. Don't get me wrong, I could've done without a couple of songs on both discs, but Jay still came with it on most of the album. It has aged good in certain spots (not all of them) and by no means is it a "bad or wack album". And I had to bump "The Watcher 2" when I finished this, lol!

3.5 stars


*This album debuted at #1 and moved 545,000 units in its first week
*It has sold 2,117,000 units (as of February 2012), confirming it's double platinum status 

Next, 2003 brings retirement. Or does it????? 

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