Hey young world, wanna hear a story? Close your eyes and you can pretend you’re me.”
As Jay-Z opens up his latest outing, American Gangster, the much anticipated LP inspired by the movie depiction of Frank Lucas, the biggest drug lord America has ever seen, a familiar growl is present in his vocals, similar to that of The Life and Times… days.
Building a foundation using a bunch of ’70’s soul samples provided by Diddy, music he says he had no one to give to after the decease of his former best friend and beloved rapper Notorious B.I.G, Jay-Z is able to build an excellent retro theme and make his audience feel good like Billy Bob Thornton in “Monsters Ball.”
It’s clear to see what aspects of the movie inspired him in the making of this album. However, many have confused this work to be a soundtrack to the movie of the same title. In reality, it’s more of a soundtrack to his own story. On tracks such as “Success,” “Fallin’,'” “Ignorant,” and “No Hook,” Hov gets the most personal we’ve seen him since the Reasonable Doubt days.
On “No Hook,” the often-argued “greatest rapper of all time” quips: “Poor me, dad was gone/ finally got my dad back liver bad, he wouldn’t live long/ they snatched my dad back/ guidance, I never had that.”
And on “Ignorant” and “Success,” Jay responds to the malicious media’s response to his previous comeback album “Kingdom Come,” as well as his childhood friends who’ve recently come forth in the media making harsh allegations regarding his loyalty as a friend: “I make ‘Big Pimpin’ or ‘Give it to me’/ or one of those and you hold me as the greatest writer of the 21st century/ I make some thought provoking [music] and you question whether I’ve fallen off.”
While the beginning as well as the end of the album draw insight on Hov’s personal thoughts and life, tracks such as “Roc Boys,” the second single off the album, “I Know,” the second Neptune production on the disc, and “Party Life” all offer a faster pace, and are definitely highlights a few of the album’s highlights.
For those who had mixed feelings about “Blue Magic,” the first single off American Gangster, don’t let this offering turn you away from one of the most special albums 2007 hip-hop has to offer.