Jay-Z – The Blueprint (2001)
Jay-Z may have 99 problems but I believe only 3 of them likely stem from this album.
1. Inability to complete division problems
“4 albums in 10 years? I could divide, that’s one every…let’s say 2”
Silly Jay-Z, it’s 2.5, which would round up to 3.
Though he exhibits little difficulty in going the other way:
“You are now lookin’ at the forty million boy…In eighteen months, eighty million more
Now add that number up with the one I said before…I’ll triple my worth.”
So at least when it comes to adding & multiplying, no troubles.
2. Inability to write songs that I feel comfortable singing along with the lyrics
See track 5 (even just the track name) for maximum Office Space-esque, window-rolling-up discomfort.
3. On The Blueprint, he wasn’t selfish enough.
A strange complaint but one that became a problem when he generously shared the spotlight with Marshall Mathers.
The song Renegade felt like an exercise in cross-promotion, a bit like a guest star appearing on a TV show during ‘sweeps week.’
I remember becoming aware of this marketing strategy in high school while watching Friends. In one opening sequence, much to the audible delight of the recorded audience track, Robin Williams & Billy Crystal showed up in the coffee shop. Would you believe they had a movie coming out that coincided with the cameo?
Some fans may like guest spots, I get the appeal. I often find them distracting/contrived. Which may be why I really appreciated the Chris Martin episode of Extras (starting at 2:10).
Much as I like early 2000s Eminem, I bought a Jay-Z CD to hear Jay-Z and it took me out of the moment hearing Eminem rant about sub-par parenting.
So somewhere else along the way Jay-Z racked up another 96 problems because that’s it for issues here.
The Kanye-produced tracks (especially Izzo and Takeover) are the highlights & there’s some wisdom to be found in the lyrics.
A couple of noteworthy Blueprint quotes:
“Don’t argue with fools, Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who”
“You can’t sell me bullshit, we know the prices”
“Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?”
In answer to the third quote, there was no Blueprint skimming on my part. I listened eagerly & often.
Finally, it’s not a line from this record but Jay-Z is also the author of one of my favourite quotes about entrepreneurship (thanks to my entrepreneur friend Rob for sharing):
“I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man!”