: * * *
Not a classic blueprint from hip-hop mogul, but decent nonetheless.
Jay-Z's legacy in hip-hop - that of arguably the best MC alive, money-making machine, and philanthropist - means he has a lot to live up to. And he pays fitting tribute to himself on posturing tracks
("I crushed Elvis and his blue suede shoes") from his latest album
The Blueprint 3
This, his 11th studio album and final instalment of his
trilogy, the first of which was arguably his classic album from 2001, is a stylish and polished record that opens with the sumptuous synth-driven
What We Talkin' About
(featuring Empire of the Sun's Luke Steele).
The Blueprint 3
also has a fair few bland and samey tracks, like the dark and lifeless
(with Kanye West, who also produces nearly half the 15 tracks); and
(featuring a soulful yet overwraught Pharrell Williams) and
are not the types of soft and soppy tracks that should end an album.
There are stunners, with deep rib-rattling beats and Jay-Z attacking the songs like a predator while hardly raising his pulse rate. There's the punishing and fit-inducing
On To The Next One
; rock 'n' roll first single
D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)
; and latest single,
Run This Town
, where Jay-Z teams up with R&B singer Rihanna who shows off a new staunch and slightly sinister style.
Although the tone is lowered on the last verse when West steps in (and this is not Kanye-bashing based on his idiot antics at this week's MTV Music Video Awards where he dissed the lovely Taylor Swift), because his smarmy banter about g-strings and bee-stings (as in boobies) sound ridiculous and tedious.
One of the album's other stars is Alicia Keys, who puts up a spirited and sonic performance on
Empire State Of Mind
- her best and most gutsy work since
' way back in 2001.
Jay-Z might have come up with a few misses here, but one things for sure, he still lays down a mighty fine