The Blueprint is the sixth solo album released by rapper Jay-Z. The album's release date was pushed up from September 18, 2001 to September 11, 2001, in order to combat widespread bootlegging. Unfortunately, the album's new release date landed on the day of the infamous terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Jay-Z's native New York City. Despite being overshadowed by the attacks, the album sold over 426,000 copies in its opening week becoming his fourth consecutive album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200. It would eventually be certified 2x Platinum as sales currently stand at more than 2.3 million copies in the US. Jay-Z would later dare to boast about the record's success on the track "The Bounce" from his following album The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse;
The Blueprint was reportedly cut in two weeks, with Jay-Z allegedly writing the lyrics in only two days. . Jay-Z was awaiting two criminal trials, one for gun possession, another for assault. At the time he was engaged in several feuds, with Nas, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, and others attacking him in song. Parts of The Blueprint became a battle album, particularly in "Takeover", on in which Jay-Z attacks Nas, Prodigy, and all manner of persecutors, set to the hard rock of samples of The Doors' "Five to One". "Takeover" closes with the line "To all you other cats throwing shots at Jigga/You only get half a bar, fuck y'all niggas" as a blanket response to all his enemies not mentioned elsewhere in the song.
In The Blueprint, Jay-Z and his producers turn to vintage soul, fueling almost every song with a stirring vocal sample: Al Green, Bobby "Blue" Bland, David Ruffin and the Jackson 5. Exceptions include "Jigga that Nigga," "Hola' Hovito," and most notably "Renegade," (misspelled "Renagade" on the back cover) a track produced by and featuring Eminem. "Renegade" was the only track with a guest rapping appearance, and many fans and critics feel that Jay-Z was overshadowed by Eminem's visceral, assonant rhymes (Nas declared on his response song Ether that "Eminem murdered you on your own shit"). It also differs in tone from the rest of the album, featuring a much darker beat.
Critical reception and impact
The Blueprint contained a unique and balanced blend of soulful samples that had both street credibility and mainstream appeal, thereby garnering praise from all quarters of the hip-hop community and receiving special recognition from critics. Most consider The Blueprint to be one of Jay-Z's best albums, holding it on a level close to that of his debut, Reasonable Doubt. Upon its release, The Blueprint was rated as Vibe Magazine's "Best Album of the year", and even received a 5 mic (out of 5) rating from The Source (a distinction reserved for hip hop classics). Pitchfork Media named it the 2nd best album of 2000-2004, behind Radiohead's Kid A. The popularity and commercial success of the album established Kanye West as one of hip-hop’s most celebrated producers. Furthermore, The Blueprint signaled a major stylistic shift in hip-hop production towards a more Soul/R&B-centric and sample-reliant sound, creating a number of imitators who attempted to emulate the album's atmospheric style. Prior to The Blueprint, mainstream hip-hop producers had largely eschewed music sampling in favor of the keyboard-driven Timbaland sound (characterized by a shifting, syncopated rhythm, similar to samba or jungle music), due to the financial and legal issues associated with copyright laws. The Blueprint, however, revived musical sampling as a common practice in hip hop music and dislodged the digital keyboard-driven production style as the dominant sound in hip-hop music . Kanye West would later incorporate some of the production and sampling techniques he used on this album into his own solo albums (see The College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation.)
- Ranked #2 in Pitchfork Media's "Top 100 Albums of 2000-2004".
- Ranked #5 in Rolling Stone's "Top 10 of 2001".
- Ranked #7 in Spin magazine's "Albums of the Year 2001”.
- Ranked #4 in NME's 50 "Albums Of the Year 2001".
- One of only a handful of albums to receive a perfect rating from both The Source and XXL.
- Ranked #12 in Wire magazine's "50 Records of the Year 2001".
|1||"The Ruler's Back"||Shawn Carter|
|3||"Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"||Shawn Carter|
|4||"Girls, Girls, Girls"||Shawn Carter|
|Just Blaze||Additional vocals: Q-Tip, Slick Rick and Biz Markie||
|5||"Jigga that Nigga"||Shawn Carter|
|Poke and Tone||Additional vocals: Stephanie Miller and Michelle Mills|
|6||"U Don't Know"||Shawn Carter|
|7||"Hola' Hovito"||Shawn Carter|
|8||"Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)"||Shawn Carter|
|9||"Never Change"||Shawn Carter|
|Kanye West||Additional vocals: Kanye West||
|10||"Song Cry"||Shawn Carter|
|11||"All I Need"||Shawn Carter|
Ryan Montgomery (uncredited)
|13||"Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)"||Shawn Carter|
|*||"Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)"||Shawn Carter|
|*||"Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix)"||Shawn Carter|
(*) Indicates bonus track
|U.S. Billboard 200||1|
|U.S. Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums||1|
|Top Canadian Albums||3|
|Billboard Hot 100||Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks||Hot Rap Singles|
|2001||"Girls, Girls, Girls"||#17||#4||#9|
|2002||"Jigga That Nigga"||#66||#27||#7|
- Slick Rick - Vocals
- Biz Markie - Vocals
- Q-Tip - Vocals
- Richard Huredia - Mixing
- Tony Dawsey - Mastering
- Jimmy Douglas - Engineer, Mixing
- Timbaland - Producer
- Jason Goldstein - Mixing
- Poke and Tone - Producer
- Jonathan Mannion - Photography
- Tony Vanias - Recording Director
- Damon Dash - Executive Producer
- Shawn Carter - Executive Producer
- Eminem - Producer / Vocals (Renegade)
- Kanye West - Producer, Vocals
- Kareem "Biggs" Burke - Executive Producer
- Just Blaze - Producer
- Jason Noto - Art Direction
- Victor Flowers - Organ
- Josey Scott - Vocals
- Shane "Bermy" Woodley - Assistant Engineer
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