Whether you like him or hate him, he gets bigger with every album he drops. Although, if more people would take the time to look past his commercial-friendly singles, then they would find a much deeper artist than expected. In fact, he’s stereotyped for “jiggy” diamond-related rhymes, but that has become a rarity for him. He incorporates the same “I’m better than you” lyrics that a lot of underground MC’s are praised for. Just because fairweather hip hop listeners are big fans of Jay-Z, does not mean that hardcore fans of the music can’t be as well. With that aside, he’s back for his sixth LP in about as many years, and he’s still going strong.
Everybody has heard “H to the Izzo”, which is one of his better meant-for-radio tracks. It doesn’t make you want to bring a sledgehammer to the radio, kinda like “Girl’s Best Friend” did a couple years ago. “Jigga That Nigga”(talk about a diverse song title) fits the word commercial perfectly, both in production and rhymes. It could be more enjoyable if it wasn’t for an annoying hook. Jay should have caught Eminem about 2 years ago for “Renegades”, before he hit the downward spiral to wackness. Em actually ruins the track, which is something I never would have dreamed of saying. He does provide a pretty good beat for Jigga, but I’m skeptical that Eminem does his production without a lot of assistance. Other than Slim Shady, the only other guests are Q-Tip, Biz Markie, and Slick Rick, who take turns chanting the hook for “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Jay runs through a list of all of his women and their attributes over very nice production.
A successful diss track is something that’s hard to attain, but Jigga obviously knows what he’s doing. Prodigy is the victim of some funny disses on “Takeover.” Specifically the Ballerina comments, and “You little f—, I got money stacks bigger than you.” But it’s Nas who suffers the grunt of the damage, clearly getting ripped apart. I’m not the only one who feels Nas is a talented MC, but he’s living off the success of “Illmatic”, and has shown NO consistency since it dropped. The other high quality tracks include the Drug Dealer anthem, “You Don’t Know,” and his quest for love in the streets on “Heart of the City.” Both include some of the best production he’s appeared on.
The major problem comes in track arrangement. Heartfelt songs such as “Never Change” and “Song Cry” are well-done, but create a lackluster mood when put back to back. They are followed by the poorest track on the album, “All I need”, which makes a chunk of three songs that are lackadaisical. The album reaches a high point early on, continues it for about 75% of the LP, then completely drops in mood. Production is solid throughout, with mostly up-and-coming producers other than Timbaland and Eminem. Plus a more classic hip hop sound, filled with classic samples and change-up’s, and not the “sound that’s hot now” that a lot of producers fall into the trap of creating. But he’s at the point in his career where he can do whatever he wants, and doesn’t need to pay the biggest names to sell his records, becuase they’ll sell regardless.
Well, Jay-Z has claimed that this is his best album since Reasonable Doubt, but I’m not really qualified to answer that, since I was one of the few that didn’t feel it was his best in the first place. What I can say that is every one of his albums deserve at least a 7, which is an amazing compliment for someone who has six LP’s out in stores. The man should be respected, mainly for his consistency and hard-work throughout the years. If this isn’t his best, I would say it’s at least up there on the same level as his best, and this is the type of music that any hip hop fan should be able to enjoy.
Reviewed By RhymeLife.Com for HipHopHotSpot.Com