Jay-Z Takes Control Of The Board (Room)

noah | September 8, 2009 10:00 am

Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3—which, it should be noted, is actually coming out three days ahead of schedule (meaning today) thanks to its leaking last week:

• “Purists may blanch at a reworking of the teardrops-on-my-keytar hit ‘Forever Young,’ from ’80s German synth-poppers Alphaville (on ‘Young Forever’), but the ladies will probably love it. And the man born Shawn Carter, who turns 40 this December, seems unworried either way. Blueprint is hip-hop as big business, and Jay retains his CEO throne.” [Leah Greenblatt, EW]

• “Yet even at three-quarter speed, Jay-Z can still be formidable. Timbaland’s sci-fi production on ‘Off That’ is a poor fit, but the MC opens up a spigot of rhymes about refusing to live in the past, invoking his nemesis Bill O’Reilly to comic effect. The hard-edged soul claps of ‘A Star is Born’ and the zinging strings of ‘Already Home’ (both produced by West) are natural fits, and he dazzles without breaking a sweat. He even turns a joke about his resemblance to a camel into an opportunity to once again disarm his critics. The message: Don’t mess with ol’ Gray-Z.” [Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune]

• “The only thing resembling that kind of excitement on The Blueprint 3 is ‘Off That’—a whizzing Timbaland track that could have been unearthed from the back of Nelly Furtado’s freezer and reheated with a hook from Drake, hip-hop’s incumbent cutie pie. ‘Whatever you’re about to discover, we off that,’ the heartthrob sings, pantomiming the ethos of his grouchy paymaster as best he can. Meanwhile, Jay summons the energy to lob a few spitballs at Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, before resorting to contempt for the wannabes. ‘If you’re driving it, I drove it,’ he taunts, halfheartedly. ‘You got it, cos’ I sold it.’ It feels like a shoulder shrug at 111 beats per minute — and don’t mistake it for dancing. He’s off that, too.” [Chris Richards, Washington Post]