Jay-Z offers blueprint for mediocrity

“The Blueprint 3” proves to be a less-than-catchy whine-fest about the hazards of fame.

PHOTO COURTESY ATLANTIC RECORDS

PHOTO COURTESY ATLANTIC RECORDS

John Sand

Jay-Z ALBUM: âÄúThe Blueprint 3âÄù LABEL: Roc Nation Every year or so, Jay-Z blasts himself onto the commercial scene to remind us that he is still a legitimate hip-hop legend and not the sideshow to the current queen of rhythm and blues, Beyoncé Knowles . His newest LP, âÄúThe Blueprint 3,âÄù is not a complex plan to further hip-hop or his own career, but instead relies on flashy collaborations with big names like Kid Cudi , Kanye and Pharrell to rehash everything we already know: itâÄôs pretty tough to be a music legend worth millions. The album begins on a shaky foundation with âÄúWhat We TalkinâÄô About,âÄù featuring annoyed (and annoying) lyrics about the perils of being center stage. Alongside synthesizer beats and a staccato chorus by Luke Steele of Empire of the Sun , Jay-Z tells us again and again exactly what heâÄôs about: âÄúStill they canâÄôt focus on them/They be talkinâÄô âÄôbout me/TalkinâÄô âÄôbout what I wear/TalkinâÄô âÄôbout where I be,âÄù while Steele lurches in falsetto, âÄúWho cares what they say?âÄù Sadly, nothing fantastic on âÄúThe Blueprint 3âÄù falls from Jay-ZâÄôs mouth. The few standout moments on the LP are the voices of his collaborators. As sweetheart-turned-diva Alicia Keys booms a showgirl chorus on âÄúEmpire State of Mind ,âÄù Jay-Z recurrently reminds fans how hard he has worked for his international acclaim. Though heâÄôs set out once again to change the ever-evolving façade of hip-hop, Jay-ZâÄôs âÄúThe Blueprint 3âÄù is structurally unsound; Nate Berkus would be disappointed in his not-so-revolutionary designs and distracting genre mixing. Ultimately, he has confirmed that he is best at penning an album suited for fueling a mediocre dance night on mainstream radio. The only thing the emcee proves a new talent for is complaining about fame. 2/5 stars