Filed under: Reviews | Tags: A Star is Born, Alicia Keys, Billboard, Blueprint 3, BP3, D.O.A., Death of Auto-Tune, Drake, Elvis Presley, Empire State of Mind, Hip-, J. Cole, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Luke Steele, Mr. Hudson, MTV, No I.D., On to the Next One, Pharrell, rap, Rihanna, Rolling Stone, Rolling Stones, Run This Town, Swizz Beats, Thank You, The Blueprint 3, Timbaland, Young Jeezy
As one of the most influential rappers of his time Jay-Z seeks to make what he told MTV was “a new classic,” in the The Blueprint 3. With The Blueprint 3 being his 11th number one album, according to Rolling Stone, Jay-Z exceeds music legend Elvis Presley to become the solo artist with the most number one albums of all time.
There are many elements that have contributed to the success of The Blueprint 3. Jay-Z’s extensive list of collaborators for The Blueprint 3 includes Luke Steele, Rihanna, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Young Jeezy, Drake, J. Cole, Kid Cudi, Pharrell, and Mr. Hudson. Jay-Z also utilizes a wide range of producers such as Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, Timbaland, and No I.D. The great diversity of this album assists Jay-Z significantly in capturing the essence of the “new classic” sound that he was attempting to grasp.
In a recent interview with Billboard Jay-Z talks about his track “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” as an attempt to stir things up. Jay-Z states that the track was intended to go against the grain and challenge the rapid evolution of hip-hop. Ironically enough the track was not only produced but also encouraged by rapper Kanye West, who not too long ago developed an album completely dependent on the voice enhancing software. As the first single released from The Blueprint 3, “D.O.A” set the tone for the album as one that opposed the nature of contemporary hip-hop.
Not only is The Blueprint 3 appealing to the ears, but it also carries significant potential to progress hip-hop into a genre where established artists can propel their incipient colleagues into successful careers. In “A Star is Born” Jay-Z promulgates his hip-hop colleagues and gives panegyrics to those who he sees as nascent.
The Blueprint 3 is a diverse album that varies in subject matter, music, and style. There are jazzy tracks such as “Thank You”, “ poppy tracks such as “Empire State of Mind”, hip-hoppy tracks such as “One To The Next One”, and tracks that have their own unique style such as “D.O.A.”
The amalgamation of what Jay-Z calls “the forgotten pieces of hip-hop” are what has made The Blueprint 3 such a great success. As he told MTV, he attempts to deviate from the newly developed superficial standards that listeners have for hip-hop. He wants his music to reflect that, “It’s not about radio, it’s not about making gimmicks, it’s still about making music.”
Filed under: News | Tags: Blueprint 3, Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Nas, Off That, Rihanna
What’s the word is a new segment added to keep our readers up to date on music news. Any suggestions on how to improve this section would be appreciated.
A new Jay-Z track was just released called “Off That” and it features Drake. You can listen to and download it here. On Jay-Z’s upcoming album, Blueprint 3, you can also expect to hear songs featuring artists such as Kid Cudi, Rihanna, Kanye West and Nas. Blueprint 3 is expected to be released on Friday, September 11th.
Filed under: Features | Tags: Andre 3000, Don't You Worry Bout' A Thing, Each Day Gets Better, Everybody Knows, Evolver, Get Lifted, Grammy, Green Light, Heaven, Higher Ground, Hitch, iTunes, John Legend, Kanye West, King and Queen, Let's Get Lifted, Once Again, Ordinary People, Save Room, Show Me, Stevie Wonder, Youtube
Over the past few years, the artist John Legend has crashed into my musical vision. I discovered this artist on the soundtrack of the Will Smith movie Hitch, the track a soulful take on the Stevie Wonder classic, “Don’t You Worry Bout’ A Thing.” Legend has a soulful voice, and an amazing mastery of the piano. In many ways, you could say that he is much like Stevie Wonder. In fact, the two have played together on a few occasions, usually performing Wonder’s standard, “Higher Ground”. Legend is great artist, and I’m clearly not the only one who thinks so because the guy has six Grammys under his belt.
Legend’s most popular song right now on iTunes™ is “Green Light” with Andre 3000, and although the track shows significant musical talent, it is not completely representative of his ability. Many of Legend’s songs have uplifting lyrics, though some rely more heavily on melody than poeticism. Regardless, you will be hard pressed to find a meaningless Legend lyric, whether they are about love, peace, or just dreams.
Legend’s first album, Get Lifted, was a great start to his musical career. Before this album however, he did participate in a few collaborations with other notable artists such as Kanye West, but still put off recording any of his original creations until this album. Personally, I think the best songs on the album are “Ordinary People”, and the title track, “Let’s Get Lifted”. Some say that “Let’s Get Lifted” is about an experience he had while high (on drugs), while others suggest that it just discusses a feeling of happiness and love. This second theory is backed by the fact that the song is a duet with a notable female singer.
“Ordinary People” has a truly awesome meaning behind it, and it’s put into beautiful words. (I suggest that you listen to the lyrics when you listen to any song instead of listening to just the music or the beat) Before the first chorus of the song, Legend sings, “I know I’ve misbehaved,/ and you’ve made your mistakes,/ and we both still got room left to grow./ And though love sometimes hurts,/ I still put you first,/ and we’ll make this thing work,/ but I think we should take it slow/ We’re just ordinary people…” Legend is stressing his thoughts on the necessity of taking things slow in love, and not rushing into things. Legend goes on to describe how deep love can run, and how fragile love is. On top of all this, it’s a beautiful song, especially when the 20 seat orchestra chimes in to his explosive last chorus.
These songs make Legend’s first album a hit, earning it multi-platinum status.
His second album, Once Again was another great album to follow up his debut album just two short years after. The first single from this album was a song called “Save Room“, which had a very nice feel to it. This song discusses the complexities of life, and how easy it is to get caught up and miss things along the way. Legend tells us to “chill” and “save room”. Legend sings, “Say that you’ll stay a little,/ don’t say bye bye tonight./ Say you’ll be mine, just a little bit of love is worth a moment of your time./…Save room for my love./ Save room for a moment to be with me.”
Another great track on the Once Again is a song called “Heaven” which again talks about another love related topic. Other great songs on this album include “Show Me”, “King and Queen”, and (my personal favorite from this album) a song called “Each Day Gets Better.”
Legend’s most recent album, Evolver, has some really meaningful songs. A song called “Everybody Knows” is about how truly clueless we really are on some things. In “Everybody Knows“, Legend sings, “Everybody knows that,/ nobody really knows,/ how to make it work,/ or how to ease the hurt./ We’ve heard it all before, and/ everybody knows,/ just how to make it right./ I wish we gave it one more try.” This song is about the word “if”. We all use this word. We all wish we could do some things differently now that we know something that could have helped back then. This album also features a really cool remix of “Green Light”, that has a more reggae feel to it.
Check John Legend out on iTunes, or just youtube him.
Filed under: Features | Tags: Be Known, Chi-Town, Chicago, Comin From Where I'm From, Common, Jesus Walks, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Spoken Word, The College Dropout
Over the years Chicago has produced some of the greatest rappers of all time. Many of these rappers are conscious rappers and have taken hip hop to a higher level with their creative lyrics and their original sounds. These rappers are extremely good lyricists who made the lyrics in they’re songs incredibly significant by making people think about things in new ways and giving their listeners their intelligent opinions that are very different from what you typically hear in commercial rap. Not only have these artists taken their lyrics to new heights but they have also all found ways of infiltrating the main stream. It is very odd to find conscious well known rappers. One thing that many of these rappers had in common was their hometown Chicago, Illinois, also known as Chi-town.
One of the very significant Chicago rappers that we see today is Kanye West. West grew up in Chicago and went on to do amazing things with hip-hop. In his first album, The College Dropout, he talked about subject matters too honest and too real for most commercial rappers. Kanye was one of the few rappers to dig deep and discuss topics that would typically be ignored, and still manage to get on the radio. One of the most amazing things that West did in his entire career, was get radio play for his song, “Jesus Walks.” In this song he speaks about the lack of variety of subject matter in mainstream hip hop music, and attempts to diversify hip hop with a track about Jesus. In the song he says, “So here go my single dog radio needs this/ They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus/ That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes/ But if I talk about God my record won’t get played Huh?” Oddly enough the song that he thought would get absolutely no radio play managed to become very popular amongst listeners of mainstream hip-hop. Since The College Dropout, West’s music seems to have taken several bad turns. West seems to have become extremely caught up in his fame and fortune and the majority his music seems to reflect this. But independent of outside influences and fan pressure, West managed to pull off one of the greatest conscious hip-hop albums of all time in, The College Dropout. The College Dropout shows how West’s experiences growing up in Chicago have given him the experiences necessary to promote and encourage social change.
Another amazing product of Chicago is Common. He is by far the rapper who has been around the longest of all the rappers mentioned in this article and has done extremely well in establishing himself as the face of conscious hip-hop. The rapper has proven himself through thick and thin, and has never been a big radio artist, but has perpetually left his mark on the conscious rap community through great tracks that make people think and that emphasize the struggles that he has been through. Common has made amazing songs but he also expresses himself extremely well through spoken word poetry. Common opens this piece, “Be Known”, by setting himself apart from commercial rappers and sharing his intentions as a hip-hop artist.
Another Chicago rapper who has done extremely well in making meaningful tracks is Lupe Fiasco. This artists has amazed his fans more and more with each and everyone of the tracks on his albums, and the freestyles on his mixtapes. Fiasco is a former comic book writer manifests that creativity in his albums. Fiasco manages to use poetic devices in his music to help him to get his points across to his intelligent listeners. Fiasco is known for going over peoples heads because of his surprising knowledge of all the subjects he raps about. If you can manage to interpret Fiasco’s lyrics you will find that he is the greatest lyricist of all time. Fiasco enjoys talking about where he came from and how he has managed to escape mistakes that the people around him have made in order to get where he is now. He talks about his native town Chicago and the type of environment that he grew up in, in his song “Comin From Where I’m From.” In this song he talks about the struggles that he had to overcome but also shows admiration for his city and the person that it has made him today.