(((Bangers: D.O.A., Empire State of Mind, Already Home, Reminder, So Ambitious)
No introduction necessary. Jay-Z, Blueprint 3, enough said. Enjoy.
What We Talkin' About (Feat. Luke Steele of Empire of the Sun) - Intense. Action. Jay-Z makes a fierce introduction as he dares to ask the question "What we talking about?" He boasts he no longer runs rap, but he runs the map. He settles a few misunderstanding here as well.
Thank You - This song has a nice big band type of flow to it as Jay's no stranger to flows and riding a nice beat and not letting it outshine him. "I'm cut from a different cloth, I'm just who the shoe fits."
D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune) - Drunken horns, drums and an amazing guitar riff, nevertheless, the man of the hour comes and take charges as only a few greats could. "This is death of auto-tune, moment of silence..." YES! Definite head-bobber! Repeat.
Run This Town (Feat. Rihanna & Kanye West) - This song wouldn't be half bad if Rihanna's voice wasn't featured on it. Her voice sounds like a wounded alley cat at best. She breaks more than rules and dishes, more like eardrums. Other than that, apparently Kanye has put his stamp of excellence on the production of this track. Kanye and Jay's verses are subpar here as Kanye uses word pronunciaton as only he can. (i. e. "stun-ting"). Eh.
Empire State Of Mind (Feat. Alicia Keys) - This has got to be one of the best tracks on the album. Oh, Miss Keys puts her melodic and strong voice on the hook and it becomes the greatest inspiration and pays amazing homage to New York! Jay's word play in this ode to the Big Apple is unmistakable behind a dramatic piano chord and old-skool drum beat. "There's nothing you can't do, out here in the New York." REPEAT!
Real as It Gets (Feat. Young Jeezy) - Finally we get to hear Jeezy's grittiness and Jay's polishes verses combine on something that becomes a dream come true for genuine Jay and Jeezy fans. Definitely one to ride with.
On to the Next One (Feat. Swizz Beatz) - This may be one of the only, if not the only Swizz Beatz produced song, that I actually enjoyed. With overactive, chorus vocals, 808's, and a nice drum loops and synths of course, Jay and Swizz make this song a bit fly.
Off That (Feat. Drake) - There's honestly no doubt in my mind that this song is produced by none other than Timbaland with its trance style beat and hand claps and what sounds likeTim's unmistakeable voice throughout the track. Jay takes stabs at political commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and the outspoken Bill O'Reily. Who cares if I spelled their names right or wrong? This one is a bit skippable.
A Star Is Born (Feat. J. Cole) - This one is quite skippable as the beat is doing a bit much. However, Jay pays unbiased homage to rappers who are currently in the game and gives a piece of his mind to their successes by saying in the hook "clap for em, clap for em" behind a clap effect. Yea ok Jay.
Venus vs. Mars - The song is pretty clever as he compares men vs women, hence, the title of the song, venus vs. mars. Interesting to listen to and the voice sounds very close to Beyonce's. Hmm.
Already Home (Feat. Kid Cudi) - "Gotta love me or leave me alone" we hear a sample used in the beginning of the song as then Kid Cudi comes on the track singing, "Oh they want me to fall, fall from the top, they want me to drop...I'm already home". Jay speaks on how rappers want him to leave the game but states he has already left and he's already home. He teaches an important lesson on originality in this one. We're listening.
Hate (Feat. Kanye West) - This Kanye produced track sounds very robotish as him and Jay boast on having "haters". Clever wording and bragging pretty much takes over the track.
Reminder - I feel like Jay has just gained his street cred back here as the eery sounds of a broken harpischord plays over the dark track. He sends everyone who has ever forgotten his success a nice "reminder" in this horror laced beat. Nice.
So Ambitious (Feat. Pharrell) - Boy oh boy, Pharrell does it again on the production. Definitely a ride out, windows down kind of song. I'm very inspired as Jay remembers everyone and everything that threatened his success and how he overcame and remained "so ambitious". "Hey if you can believe it, then you can conceive it." YES! Repeat, especially for anyone who has doubted themselves!
Young Forever (Feat. Mr. Hudson) - Very nice Coldplay-ish, Chris Martin-inspired song. Jay reminisces and shares some stories from filth to fame. Nicely done.