REVIEW: American Gangster
Wow, what a difference one album makes. Before Kingdom Come, these same kids calling him an “oldhead” and “washed up” we’re hailing him as the greatest alive. Kingdom Come did the numbers (680,000 the first week), but was hailed as the biggest pile of pig shit of ’06. Personally, I’ve heard worse, but not from Jay. It wasn’t that the album was bad, but some songs were great (a la “The Prelude”, “Oh My God” and “Beach Chair”) and some were Mike Jones-ish horrible (“Anything”, “Dig a Hole” and “Hollywood”).
Back to the album at hand, give Jay his respect for taking back to the drug tales and for getting ’70’s soulish. But could Diddy (who hasn’t did a good song since “Hate Me Now”) and the Hitmen (who haven’t did shit since No Way Out) produce, good material that is. And can Hov make a good one without a beat from Kanye West? Well ain’t that why we do reviews?
The guy from Daddy’s Little Angels takes a real approach to being a gangster. He also tells these litte niggas it ain’t cool to let your ass show, real niggas think it’s gay. I was with this whole shit till he said “if you believe in Jay-Z then you, too, can be a gangster.” Is it neccesary to ride yourself on your intro?
PRAY ft. Beyonce
Forget what I said above about Puffy & The (new) Hitmen. The beat’s banging and it’s the best you’ve heard him flow since, I don’t know, maybe The Black Album. Though I’m never the one to pass on a story track, this one makes you feel like Hov made you “close your eyes and pretend you’re me.”
Damn ya’ll, I don’t know I was feeling the first six tracks on KC, but this on rides over damn near everything on the comeback album. Probably one of the best samples, minus Kanye beats, I’ve heard since, fuck it, Graduation.
Washed up rapper quotable of the year: “Survive the droughts/ I wish you well/ Hold up, survive the droughts?/ I wish you well?/ How sick am I?/I wish you health”
HELLO BROOKLYN 2.0 ft. Lil Wayne
What the fuck. You know how some fans pray for their two favorites to collaborate? “Black Republicans”? Check. “Renegade”? Check. “Barry Bonds”? Check. This shit? Jay and Wayne made a boo boo.
These new Hitmen are some how close to the quality of the original squad. This Barry White sample, makes you feel like you on Cloud 9 with some “Blue Magic.” Hard lyrics+hard beat= One of the most hard-hitting songs in Hov’s career.
Washed up rapper quotable of the year 2: “But hustle hard at any hustle/ That you pick/ Skinny nigga toothpick/ But I do lift weight like I’m using ‘roids/ Rolls Royce keep my movements/ Smooth while maneuvering/ Through all the manure in the sewer/ That I grew up in”
ROC BOYS (AND THE WINNER IS)…
Officially the best song out right now. For anyone questioning his talent, this will shut them the fuck up. I’m not gonna quote anything from this song, just download it. And I’m really waiting for these Hitmen niggas to fuck up. It’s better than No Way Out. Now it’s the best since Life after Death.
Fits perfectly with the scene where Tip tells Uncle Frank “I wanna be like you.” The song gives you that mellow “cruisin’ (what up D’Angelo)” feel (in your new Phantom of course.) So far so good. At least this one keeps getting better than going on and off like Kingdom Come.
Side note: Apparently, Cassie hasn’t improved on her singing skills since her shitfest performance on 106. She’s strictly an adlibber now. (She’s on this, “Pray” and “Roc Boys”).
I KNOW ft. Pharrell
On some “Baltimore Love Thing” shit. Though ten times better than anyting sitting on The Massacre, or in 50’s head. You’d think on a CD full of samples the only song minus one would suck. Best Neptunes beat since HHNF.
Oldhead rhymes: “In any form I’m giving you sweet dreams/ That sugar hill, she call me her sweet thing/ That black rain will take away your pain/ Just for one night baby take me in vein”
This CD is full of Bad Boys newcomers and rejects, some guy named Shannon Jones is on this one. I guess Jay’s saving money for the company now. What a great boss!
This is the last Hitmen beat and they’ve really shown theier asses on this one. Sean C, LV and (gulp) Diddy did the best production I’ve heard, minus Graduation, since Finding Forever (sorry y’all.)
A couple gray hair quotables: “I’m on her bra strap/ She’s on my dick/ Ain’t nothing wrong with that/ That’s my bitch”, “She’s my little quaterback/ Ya dig?/ Cause I’m all that in the sack/ Ya dig?”, “Please there’s no equal/ Ya boys off the wall, these other niggas is Tito”
IGNORANT SHIT ft. Beanie Sigel
It’s that old shit you like with an irrelevant verse from Beans. He probably spit about eight bars, but it’d love to breathe over this beat. The first of two Just Blaze beats. Also, Jay goes in at Imus and how rap can’t be “worst than these celebutants showing they kittens/You kidding?”
Something else to point out: On KC Just took that “Super Freak” sample and made it dissapear out your mind. This one doesn’t remove the recognition, but does sample “Between the Sheets” in a different form.
This DJ Toomp kid is really stepping up the ladder. Fuck T.I. vs. T.I.P. This beats better than “Big Brother” but slightly under “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Jay doesn’t shit on this one lyrically, but creatively it’s a thumbs up. And if I said Nas is the next Malcom or Martin, Jay’s gotta be one too. I’m going with Nas as Malcolm, because he’s more revolutionary and Jay’s more popular like MLK. S Dot goes in at Al Sharpton telling him what I said, take care of Jena then worry about cursing.
SUCCESS ft. Nas
It’s a shame how these guys have been on two songs together, and no one can shit on the other. I wanna say Nas but Jay had a couple rewind lines. The beat’s from No I.D. (where are they now producer) and it delivers. I heard the sample, though and it’s virtually the same thing played over and over.
30’s the new 20 lines of the year: Jay- “Finish my brealfast why?/ I got an appettite for destruction and you’re a small fry” Nas- “Success, McLaren, women starin/ My villian appearance/Sacred blood of a king/ In my vein ain’t spillin”
This Bilal kid should be ashamed of himself. He’s on all kind of song and only get adiitional vocals credits. It’s hard to believe J.D. did this beat instead of No I.D. (who co-produced) but he comfirmed it himself. Great song, as the rest, that reflects on Frank Lucas’ fall. I guess this is why it’s the last official song, the others are bonus tracks.
BLUE MAGIC ft. Pharrell
The one everybody hates but me. We’ve all heard it before, either it’s the shit or shit.
Provided by Just Blaze, who rarely fucks up. Great song and brings you back to that Blueprint feel. Not really too much to say here, except it’s another banger.
Wow, what a difference one album makes. For all of you all wondering, he ain’t washed up, but was rather rusty (He did drop an album annually [and occasionally two]). No it’s not The Black Album good. No it’s not on the levels of Reasonable Doubt & The Blueprint, and he’ll probably never be back there. But if that’s the case, Nas has apparently been washed up since Illmatic, and
the Wu since Wu-Tang Forever.
If you ain’t like me and don’t enjoy buying CDs, then at least download it.
OVERALL: 9/10 (Perfect minus Hello Brooklyn)
Best Songs: “American Dreamin'”, “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)…” & “Say Hello”