Jay-Z: American Gangster Review 9.0/10

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Jay-Z’s latest album, American Gangster, is a great addition to his already impressive catalogue. To me, there are two kinds of Jay-Z:

1. The lyrical king

2. The lackadaisical lyricist

With American Gangster, we find that hunger that he had when creating Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint. Although this CD may not feature the signature party tracks every Jay-Z CD is used to, it does have many entertaining songs that feature some of Jay-Z’s best lyrics to date. Here is a track breakdown:

1 . Intro: 3/5 Standard intro that sets the tone for the album, showing the true meaning of a gangster.

2. Pray: 5.5 Produced by Diddy and his cohorts, this track is crazy. Not only is the beat amazing, but Jay-Z’s lyrics are on point. “Turned crack rock into a chain of 40/40s.” This song shows his transition from gangster to entrepreneur, and asks for you to pray for his sins.

3. American Dreamin’: 4.3/5 A very soulful track talking about selling crack and trying to get out of the ghetto, dreaming of something better. “We need a place to pitch/we need a mound”. Not as catchy as Pray, but still a good track nonetheless.

4. Hello Brooklyn 2.0: 3.8/5 This song doesn’t really fit on the album, but it still isn’t half bad. Lil’ Wayne’s flow and verse could be much better, especially judging from some of the great stuff he has put out the past couple years. Jay’s verse is better, and saves the song from being a complete mess.

5. No Hook: 4.7/5 Great track. Jay talks about his father and how the streets were his second home. “Hustle hard in any hustle that you pick”. This song is about hustling by any means necessary, no matter what you are doing.

6. Roc Boys (And The Winner Is….): 5/5 Jay’s 2nd single the closest thing to a club song you’ll find on this album. The beat sounds like it comes from a cop show from the 70’s, and it totally works. It’s a celebration song, and works great in the context of the album.

7. Sweet: 4/5 This song feels like filler. It still has good lyrics, but the chorus is boring and makes the song worse than it could be.

8. I Know: 4.3/5 Another Neptunes track, this is a pretty chill track. “She wants those heroine tracks”. It’s a song for the ladies, but still has a gangster feel to it.

9. Party Life: 4.5/5 “Papa was a rolling stone/it’s in my ancestry”. This is another laid back song with Jay letting in some of that lazy flow. His lyrics are still on point, but it’s another track for the ladies.

10. Ignorant Shit: 4.6/5 This was originally going to be on The Black Album, and Jay switched up the lyrics to address Imus and annoying celebrities. Along with Beanie Sigel, Jay lets go some vicious lyrics “Scarface the movie did more than Scarface the rapper to me/so that ain’t to blame for all the shit’s that happened to me”.

11. Say Hello: 5/5 Another one of my favorite tracks. It has a great chorus and the lyrics flow perfectly with the beat. “They say I’m a menace/that’s the picture they paint/ they say a lot about me/let me tell you what I ain’t.” Great wordplay.

12. Success: 5/5 What can I say about a Jay track with Nas? It’s great. My favorite line is spit by Nas: “Google Earth Nas/I got flats in other continents”.

13. Fallin’: 5/5 The inevitable fall of his empire, Jay channels Frank Lucas in this track. It talks about his obsession with selling drugs and how he can’t stop until they catch him. “Can’t blow too hard, life’s a deck of cards”. The whole track is great.

Bonus Tracks:

14. Blue Magic: 5/5 I don’t know why Jay didn’t think this track fit on the album. The beat is great and Jay flows over it really well. “Can’t you tell that I came from the dope game?”

15. American Gangster: 4.2/5 Solid track, but a little too upbeat for the last track of an album about the rise and fall of a drug dealer.

Overall, this CD is very impressive. It shows Jay at his lyrical best, painting vivid imagery while still making the music entertaining to listen too. I highly recommend it to anyone that likes Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint. This CD solidifies Jay’s presence as a legend in the game. Even after 9 number 1 albums, he can still show the tenacity that he exhibited on his first record.

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