Jay-Z :: Blueprint 2.1
Label: Roc-A-Fella Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Jay-Z's back, and he's bigger and badder than ever before. Well no, actually
he's smaller and lighter. It doesn't make sense at first, until you try thinking
of it as a boxing analogy. When a fight between two great heavyweights is first
announced, neither man is necessarily "in condition" to go right then and there.
They spend the next six months to a year tuning up and slimming down, dropping
excess weight and packing on a little more muscle definition to be lean, trim,
and ready to roll on fight night.
Jigga's double disc "Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse" was well received by
most critics, but some noted that it was simply too much material for even a
legendary icon like S. Carter to carry from start to finish consistantly. True
indeed, there were a few spots on discs one and two where the raps were a little
lackluster, and as rap fans are prone to do with double albums they griped that
a single disc with the best material from each would have been better than both seperately.
For once, somebody in charge actually listened. "The Blueprint 2.1" clocks in
at twelve tracks long and just over 60 minutes in length, which puts it in "fighting
shape" to hang with any heavyweights on today's charts. Marketing it as an "upgrade"
to the original is a clever marketing ploy, but other than dropping some excess
baggage there aren't any major changes. In fact the first five tracks of the
original release are the first five tracks of this new version. Starting with
track six you'll notice the changes - "What They Gonna Do" is dropped for "All
Around the World" and the album suddenly switches to tracks from the second disc
after that, starting with "Guns & Roses" and going through "Some How Some
Way" in sequential order. The album then briefly skips back to disc one for
"The Bounce" and closes with Blueprint 2's bonus track "What They Gonna Do Part II."
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The album also contains two extra
tracks that are tacked on after the end of "What They Gonna Do Part II" that are
not listed on the CD's back inset cover or available as seperate tracks on the
album. The extra songs, in this order, are "Excuse Me Miss Again" and "Stop"
featuring Swizz Beatz. While these songs do give the CD some new material to
partially justify a purchase, neither are the kind of hot shit that a Jigga fan
would expect to hear.)
In terms of consolidation, "Blueprint 2.1" was a great idea, but for Jay-Z's
hardcore fanbase something may be a little lacking in the execution. The track
order of the songs may have been kept almost exactly the same for familiarity's
sake, but it also smacks of a lazy "cut and paste" chop job that doesn't come
across as a concerted effort to cull the best songs; even though ironically
it comes pretty close to doing so even if by sheer accident. At 60 minutes
though, the album actually seems a little SHORT now. 14 or even 15
tracks might have been a better choice. This would have allowed room for some
more quality songs from the original, such as "Poppin' Tags" or "A Ballad for
the Fallen Soldier."
Whether or not the idea behind "Blueprint 2.1" will be a success is ultimately
up to how many new converts Jay-Z gets to his album by buying this CD. Those
who had no problem with buying the original version though will find little
to justify buying the update though, unless they are completists who
must have EVERY Jigga album in their collection. With the same quality
of material that was presented on the original and almost nothing new added,
this release is no better or worse than the first - just slightly revised.
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: April 8, 2003; edited April 11, 2003