(Copyright © 1999-2017 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Reasonable Doubt (1996), 7/10
My Lifetime Vol 1 (1997), 5.5/10
Vol 2: Hard Knock Life (1998), 5/10
Vol 3: Life and Times of S. Carter (1999), 5/10
Dynasty Roc la Familia (2000), 5.5/10
The Blueprint (2001), 6.5/10
The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse (2002), 6/10
The Black Album (2004), 5/10
Kingdom Come (2006), 4.5/10
American Gangster (2007), 6.5/10
The Blueprint 3 (2009), 5/10
Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013), 4/10
4:44 (2017), 4.5/10
Everything Is Love (2018), 4/10

New York rapper Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) was one of the most successful hip-hop acts of the 1990s. His gangsta-rap album Reasonable Doubt (1996), featuring state-of-the-art raps such as 22 Two's, Ain't No Nigga, Can't Knock the Hustle, Dead Presidents, Feelin' It, was not particularly original, but at least packed some passion and sounded sincere. His subsequent albums were the exact opposite: superficial, artificial and meaningless. The conversion to mainstream pop-hop fusion began on My Lifetime Vol 1 (1997), and its hits Sunshine and The City Is Mine, and continued on Vol 2: Hard Knock Life (1998), with Can I Get A, Hard Knock Life Jigga What, It's Alright and Money Ain't a Thang, the star-studden Vol 3: Life and Times of S. Carter (1999), and Dynasty Roc la Familia (2000), with I Just Wanna Love U and Change the Game. Each of these was a monster selling album. Jay-Z's style was easy to digest and basically invented living-room rap.

The Blueprint (2001), with Izzo, upped the ante a bit, but it was the eclectic double album The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse (2002) that established his credentials as a musician. Not a single track was innovative, but all tracks were sophisticated enough in their respective (crossover) styles.

Jay Z Collison Course (2004) is a collaboration with Linkin Park.

Jay-Z announced his retirement after The Black Album (2004), containing the pounding explosive 99 Problems, but nobody believed him.

The Best Of Both Worlds (2002) and Unfinished Business (2005) were collaborations with R. Kelly.

Despite the cast of guests (Dr Dre, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West), Kingdom Come (2006) was another disappointment.

On the other hand, American Gangster (2007), a post-modern concept album drenched in the sound of the 1970s (with floating snippets of Al Green, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye), restored Jay-Z's claim to the throne of gangster-rap (Pray, Ignorant Shit).

The Blueprint 3 (2009) finally concluded the "Blueprint" series, with Alicia Keys helping in Empire State of Mind, Rihanna in Run This Town and Timbaland penning Off That. It was the 11th album by Jay-Z to top the sale charts, thus beating the record held for decades by Elvis Presley.

Watch The Throne (2011) was a collaboration with Kanye West, mostly an excuse to line up world-famous stars and hire the world's most high-tech studios.

Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013) was, hopefully, just a joke (including the single Holy Grail (2013), a collaboration with Justin Timberlake), even worse than Kingdom Come (2006).

If you don’t care about Jay-Z’s personal life, there is no reason to listen to 4:44 (Universal, 2017), a confessional concept album (mostly spoken-word) that feels like psychiatric therapy. The music is limited to a few minutes, best probably The Story of O.J. with the counterpoint of a female vocalist who seems to sing a different song and some soulful jazz piano. The centerpieces would be the two eight-minute melodramas, 4:44 and Smile. But these, and other songs, only owe their appeal to the artful direction of producer No I.D.. It's his work that provides the setting for these songs. He plays Jay-Z's boring lyrics against a soundtrack of black music that includes Stevie Wonder’s Love’s in Need of Love Today (Smile), Nina Simone’s Four Women (The Story of O.J.) and Donny Hathaway’s Someday We’ll All Be Free as well as oldies from the Alan Parsons Project (Kill Jay-Z) and Quarteto 1111 (Marcy Me, 1970). You just have to try really hard not to listen to the words.

Everything Is Love (2018) completed the trilogy of albums devoted to Jay-Z's famous marriage with Beyonce (after Beyonce's Lemonade and Jay-Z's 4:44). This time they spend most of the time bragging about their wealth, which ends up sounding like a self-caricature given the low artistic quality of their combined output. All three albums of the trilogy are valuable more as rap's equivalent of reality television shows than as music. Few couples have produced such uninspired music for such a long time. And, in the annals of show business, it is hard to find a similar couple of obnoxious billionaires.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da: a /mu/ anon)

Il rapper newyorkese Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) è stato uno degli artisti hip-hop di maggior successo degli anni '90. Il suo album gangsta-rap Reasonable Doubt (1996), con rap all'avanguardia come 22 Two's, Ain't No Nigga, Can't Knock the Hustle, Dead Presidents, Feelin 'It, non era particolarmente originale, ma almeno racchiudeva un po 'di passione e suonava sincero. I suoi album successivi furono l'esatto opposto: superficiali, artificiali e privi di significato. La conversione alla fusione pop-hop mainstream è iniziata con My Lifetime Vol 1 (1997), e i suoi successi Sunshine e The City Is Mine, e continuò con Vol 2: Hard Knock Life (1998), con Can I Get A, Hard Knock Life Jigga What, It's Alright and Money Ain't a Thang, il ridondante di features Vol 3: Life and Times of S. Carter (1999), and Dynasty Roc la Familia (2000), con I Just Wanna Love U and Change the Game . Ognuno di questi era un album vendeva in maniera mostruosa. Lo stile di Jay-Z era facile da digerire e fondamentalmente ha inventato il rap da salotto.

The Blueprint (2001), con Izzo, ha alzato un po' la posta, ma è stato l'eclettico doppio album The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse (2002) che ha stabilito le sue credenziali come musicista. Non una singola traccia era innovativa, ma tutte le tracce erano abbastanza sofisticate nei rispettivi stili (crossover).

Collison Course (2004) è una collaborazione con Linkin Park.

Jay-Z ha annunciato il suo ritiro dopo The Black Album (2004), contenente il martellante ed esplosivo 99 Problems, ma nessuno gli ha creduto.

The Best Of Both Worlds (2002) e Unfinished Business (2005) sono state collaborazioni con R. Kelly.

Nonostante il cast di ospiti (Dr Dre, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West), Kingdom Come (2006) è stata un'altra delusione.

D'altra parte, American Gangster (2007), un concept album postmoderno intriso del suono degli anni '70 (con frammenti fluttuanti di Al Green, Curtis Mayfield e Marvin Gaye), ha ripristinato la pretesa di Jay-Z al trono di gangster- rap (Pray, Ignorant Shit).


The Blueprint 3 (2009) ha finalmente concluso la serie "Blueprint", con Alicia Keys che aiuta in Empire State of Mind, Rihanna in Run This Town e Timbaland che scrive Off That. È stato l'undicesimo album di Jay-Z in cima alle classifiche di vendita, battendo così il record detenuto per decenni da Elvis Presley.

Watch The Throne (2011) è stata una collaborazione con Kanye West, soprattutto una scusa per mettere in fila star di fama mondiale e occupare gli studi più high-tech del mondo.

Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013) era, si spera, solo uno scherzo (incluso il singolo Holy Grail (2013), una collaborazione con Justin Timberlake), anche peggio di Kingdom Come (2006).

Se non ti interessa la vita personale di Jay-Z, non c'è motivo di ascoltare 4:44 (Universal, 2017), un concept album confessionale (per lo più parlato) che sembra una terapia psichiatrica. La musica è limitata a pochi minuti, meglio probabilmente The Story of O.J. con il contrappunto di una cantante femminile (che sembra cantare una canzone diversa) e un pianoforte jazz soul. I pezzi centrali sarebbero i due melodrammi di otto minuti, 4:44 e Smile. Ma queste e altre canzoni devono il loro fascino solo all'abile direzione del produttore No I.D .. È il suo lavoro che fornisce l'ambientazione per queste canzoni. Suona i testi noiosi di Jay-Z contro una colonna sonora di musica nera che include Love's in Need of Love Today (Smile) di Stevie Wonder, Four Women (The Story of OJ) di Nina Simone e Someday We'll All Be Free di Donny Hathaway così come vecchie glorie da Alan Parsons Project (Kill Jay-Z) e Quarteto 1111 (Marcy Me, 1970). Devi solo sforzarti davvero di non ascoltare le parole.

Everything Is Love (2018) ha completato la trilogia di album dedicati al famoso matrimonio di Jay-Z con Beyonce (dopo Lemonade di Beyonce e 4:44 di Jay-Z). Questa volta trascorrono la maggior parte del tempo a vantarsi della loro ricchezza, che finisce per suonare come un'auto-caricatura data la bassa qualità artistica della loro produzione combinata. Tutti e tre gli album della trilogia valgono più come l'equivalente rap dei reality show televisivi che come musica. Poche coppie hanno prodotto musica così poco ispirata per così tanto tempo. E, negli annali dello spettacolo, è difficile trovare una coppia simile di odiosi miliardari.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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