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The Blueprint 3 is Jay-Z's strongest album since 2003's Black Album. Many thought Jay had lost his edge, but one listen to this new batch of tracks dismisses that notion. It’s got to be difficult for an artist like Jay-Z to escape the shadow of his own legacy, but despite that, The Blueprint 3 manages to hold its own among a string of classic hip-hop albums. Kanye West provides the sonic backdrop on 7 of the 15 songs as Jay flows on track after track with vigor that fans haven't heard in a while.

Despite the out of control ego and ridiculous antics at the 2009 MTV VMA show, you can’t deny West's production skill. West had his first taste of success when he produced the hit single "H.O.V.A." on the original Blueprint album. After staggering solo success, West returns to where it all began with impressive results.

The album provides a fresh take in an era of hip-hop dominated by over-produced party anthems. Jay points this out throughout the album. Most notably on the track "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," which slams rapper T-Pain. (Ironically, West released an album that utilized auto-tune last year.)

One of the most unexpected tracks on the disc is "Forever Young," sampling the Alphaville classic of the same name. Another interesting listen that may not be for all Jay-Z fans is the slow-flowing "Hate" with Kanye West. Standout tracks include the Swizz Beats-produced "On to the Next One" and radio hit "We Run This Town."

Although he is staring down the barrel at 40, Jay shows no signs of fatigue. This may not be the edgiest hip-hop, but it's the best you'll find in the mainstream.

Album title: The Blueprint 3
Artist: Jay-Z
Songs: 1. What We Talkin' About 2. Thank You 3. D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune) 4. Run This Town 5. Empire State of Mind 6. Real As It Gets 7. On to the Next One 8. Off That 9. A Star Is Born 10. Venus vs. Mars 11. Already Home 12. Hate 13. Reminder 14. So Ambitious 15. Young Forever

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kaligator Sept. 14, 2009 @ 5:52 p.m.

Jay Z is one of the artist that maintains a high level...big praise to him..but there seems to be a avoidance of local artist in the game of hip hop , rap that continues to get there praise...big ups to mitchy slick, black mikey, don diego, cherry hill gang and tiny doo...san diego is a mecca of talent. support the growth


whyigotahaveid Sept. 14, 2009 @ 8:51 p.m.

too bad LAME ASS sd radio dosnt support .
they claim to be blazing n the official hip hop station. then turn around an play timberland n gaga .
and thats not a compliment .


edove05 Sept. 14, 2009 @ 11:13 p.m.

I must agree that there is a serious lack of support for local hip-hop. I cannot remember the last time I was scanning the radio and heard any local hip-hop. By contrast, 94.9 regularly highlights local rock acts and even allows them on air interviews. On national level, San Diego was recently the subject of a Rolling Stone article calling it one of the best music scenes in the US. The article of course does not mention anything about the hip-hop scene. Unlike the rock acts here in SD, local hip-hop acts are simply not given access to local radio.

Local hip-hop radio is largely to blame and listeners must demand change if there is to be any. I find it hard to believe I am the only one who is a little tired of the constant T-Pain, Pitbull, Lady Gaga, and Black Eyed Peas rotation on local stations.


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