In the Limelight: “What We Talkin Bout?”

By: Melva Lloyd
“What we talkin’ bout real sh*t? Or we talkin’ bout rhymes?…” Well, in this case we’re talking about the progression of an artist. It should come as no surprise that Jay-Z easily surpassed the 100,000 mark during his first week of record sales with his 11th studio album, The Bluprint 3; over the past decade Shawn Carter has proven that anything he puts his name on turns to gold, or platinum in this case. But album sales aside, his toughest critics don’t seem to be fellow music moguls, record execs or his peers; his fans have had the most to say about this “comeback” record since the CD hit the internet almost 2 weeks before the actual release date.
As a die hard Jay-Z fan myself, I sometimes find it hard to muster up a negative review of any of his songs but let’s be honest, although most people feel that BP3 was not a “classic”, Jay-Z has proven that even at his age, (39) he can hang with any of these young bucks in the game. So what is it about BP3 that people seem to have a problem with? Is it the constant mirage of guest appearances on song after song? Is it the Drake featured “Off That” that seemed to disappoint the majority of his fans? Or were people expecting to hear Jay-Z circa 1996 all over again when he released Reasonable Doubt?
The Swizz Beatz produced “On to the Next One” can easily be a club banger and with songs like “As Real As it Gets” (feat. Young Jeezy) and “Thank You”, it’s clear that Jay is on a level all his own. Who else can boast, “…I’m rare//I’m aware that I’m rare//I rap and I’m real I’m one of the few here…”? And whether you’re from Brooklyn or Kansas, “Empire State of Mind” can easily make anyone not from the state of New York wish they were, and native New Yorkers gain another level of appreciation for their hometown. Kanye West left his midwest mark on “Hate”, bringing his Chicago flavor to an album filled with swag that only Jay-Z can possess. And what’s a Jay-Z album without a Neptunes beat? “So Ambitious” goes down as one of my favorites on the entire CD, it makes me think that Pharrell has beats locked away especially for Jay-Z. How can you not love a song that boosts self confidence and urges the listener to pursue any dream regardless of what they naysayers feel about it? (“The motivation for me, is them telling me what I could not be…I’m on a mission no matter what the condition…”)
Jay-Z has grown as an artist and a person, if he wants to rap about knowing Obama on a personal level, his multi-million dollar endorsements and his wife, then who are we to judge? With ten number one albums already under his belt and “maybe now 11” Jay-Z has no one left to impress to but himself, the only person that matters…and THAT’S what I’m talking about.

Tracks to check for: Already Home, Thank You, So Ambitious

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