Yesterday, in the midst of the commotion regarding the leak of Blueprint 3, my editors at the Times requested that I do a first-listen live-blog review. The result is up now, with roughly half the best jokes and three quarters of the venom siphoned out. It’s probably for the best. Had my original draft ran, I imagine I would be taken off the Roc Nation Christmas list and wouldn’t get my free Mr. Hudson stocking stuffers.  How could I live without a Yuletide fruitcake featuring Mr. Hudson’s face? Roc-A-Fella, y’all.

It’s difficult to have a more visceral disdain for a Jay-Z record. Kingdom Come was probably worse, but it’s chief crime was absolute boredom. There’s something deeply disturbing about Blueprint 3–not only does it feature some of the worst moments of Sean Carter’s career, it’s arrogant but lacks swagger, it’s cocky but not confident, it seems to regard white kids in Williamsburg as the apotheosis of cool. I’m all for Jay-Z seeing a Grizzly Bear show–after all, who am I to talk? But this feels like an effort from an old man who picked up a two years-old copy of The Fader, studied the Style section, and relied on Kanye and Timbaland to tell him what THE FUTURE sounds like.

It’s simultaneously over-cooked and half-baked, it’s needlessly self-congratulatory, it’s totally contrived. Blueprint’s 3 sole conceit is to usher in some weird new progressive era that Jay can only speak about with vague platitudes. It’s hard to hate Jay-Z. He’s been one of my favorite rappers since I heard “Brooklyn’s Finest” on a badly dubbed tape in my friend’s falling-apart Ford Aspire in 1996, but this is just pathetic. Though I suppose some congrats are in store. 50 years from now when we’re listening to music through chips in our brains, we’ll also remember Blueprint 3 for “Young Forever,” which established a visionary new sub-genre: Bar-Mitzvah montage rap.

LA Times: First Listen–Jay-Z’s-“Blueprint 3”

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