In 1996, an unknown Jay-Z released one of rap’s masterpieces, Reasonable Doubt, to minimal fanfare, yet he established himself as one of the most lyrically gifted “gangster” rappers ever. Eleven years later, after eight more albums and a nearly unparalleled number of records sold, Jay-Z sits high on his throne.
Ridley Scott’s American Gangster starring Denzel Washington hit theaters last week, and who better to create the official soundtrack than rap’s true “American Gangster”?
Jay-Z’s newest release is yet another collection of hits on one album. The disc begins with an intro featuring Denzel Washington’s monologue in American Gangster, and soon jumps into the Marvin Gaye-sampled “American Dreamin’,” one of several soulful tracks on the album. On “Roc Boys,” the album’s second single, Jay mirrors the glamorous life of gangster Frank Lucas with a catchy horn-laced anthem.
On “Ignorant Sh*t,” Jay questions modern music and culture. On the Jermaine Dupri-produced and Bilal-featured “Fallin’,” Jay raps about the pain of failure and the inevitable fall from the top on this introspective track.
All in all, Jay’s newest album is a success and will likely get much greater acclaim than his last effort. He is simply a consistent and masterful rap artist. The style of the album is very blues-like and seems to belong in the ’70s. Despite the questionable and oddly offbeat “Hello Brooklyn 2.0,” Jay strengthens his grip on rap music yet again.
Dan Buyanovsky may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.