Jay-Z is on fire, and so is Lala.com
So, I just got The Blueprint 3. It’s $4.99 on Lala.com, but only $3.99 on Amazon. I got it from Lala to support the little guy. I decided it was worth $5 after only the first 7 songs – two of which I’d already got the “web version” of on Lala. It’s that good.
But, after buying the MP3s, I discovered that there’s a Beta section in Lala, which – among other things – lets you scrobble tracks to Last.fm.
I may never buy another MP3 again! Considering I can open a tab in Firefox, play songs on Lala.com using less RAM than iTunes (with much faster reaction time from the app), AND have them scrobbled to Last.fm… the only advantage that MP3s have is that I can put them on my iPhone… but I don’t really listen to music on my iPhone; I usually listen to audiobooks in the car or when I’m walking or whatever (and the audiobooks come from the Chicago Public Library via Overdrive download or imported Audio CD). Also, I could back up my 15 GB of music on my desktop computer (using Hamachi) and then have an extra 15 GB on my laptop hard drive (which I’m hoping would improve the read/write performance of my computer). And since it’s synced via the Lala Music Mover, I know that those backed up songs are going to be available on Lala.
So, that’s the interesting part of the tech stuff. I’m about to do one of those track-by-track album reviews right now (possibly my first ever, but certainly a copycheated idea; gotta keep up my copycheating cred to hold the belt).
What We Talkin’ Bout [feat Luke Steele]
Not the strongest start to the album, but it’s got a lot of good rhymes, and a kind of nice, relaxed chorus.
Coincidence that the album came out on 9/11/09 and there’s a whole verse about how Jay-Z treats other emcees like the World Trade Center towers? Still too soon. But other than that verse, this is kind of a fun song.
D.O.A. [Death of Auto-Tune]
I find it ironic that Jay-Z has Kanye West on the very next song on the album (and on Hate later in the album), considering 808s & Heartbreaks could pretty much be called the Auto-Tune album. It even kind of sounds like Kanye sings the “chorus” part. I like the guitar a lot, though, and there’s some clever rhymes. And the message is certainly true. Kanye (and others) were good rappers, but so much with the singing part. Core competencies. Jay knows his.
Run This Town [feat Kanye West, Rihanna]
This is flat out one of my favorite songs right now – possibly ever. I’ve listened to it 29 times (according to Lala) since I bought the “web version” on August 19th. That’s 1.21 times per day and I don’t even listen to music that much (according to Last.fm, I’ve listened to 30 songs in the past 7 days, aside from this song and Wale’s Chillin).
Empire State of Mind [feat Alicia Keys]
I firmly believe this song was made to get LeBron James to come to the Nets or Knicks in 2010. He even name checks The King, as well as Dwyane Wade (evidently his second choice [ed note: Nooooo! Wade is going to Chicago!]).
Real As It Gets [feat Young Jeezy]
This sounds like it should be an uplifting get-off-the-streets type jam, but Jeezy kind of ruins all that. Too little Jay, too much Jeezy.
On To The Next One [feat Swizz Beatz]
Swizz Beatz is good at making the kind of beats he does. Plenty of Jay-Z with decent to above average rhymes.
Off That [feat Drake]
Fits well with the album as a change of pace song. Jay-Z shows versatility with the speed and nimbleness of his flow.
A Star Is Born [feat J. Cole]
Not a great song, but deserves some recognition as a tribute to the other hip-hop groups.
Venus vs. Mars
I think is supposed to be some kind of love jam or something, but coming that close to Jay-Z’s sex life kind of grosses me out.
Already Home [feat Kid Cudi]
Bragathon. Well done. Not the strongest song but better than a generic filler track on any other album.
Hate [feat Kanye West]
Kanye reaches for some rhymes on this one, but serves to make Jay look better by comparison.
Getting back to gangster here. The chorus is pretty annoying, but the rest of the song is good.
So Ambitious [feat Pharrell]
Had to get The Neptunes on there somewhere, right? How long ago was it when they jumped the shark? They were innovative when their first brought out their sound, but now it seems too easy to pick out a Neptunes song because they all sound so similar. Beat seems just a little to slow for Jay’s flow, as he has to double-time on the parts where he sounds good. And I suppose the irony is that the song is So Ambitious but it doesn’t seem that The Neptunes have much ambition at all since their sound essentially hasn’t changed in about 10 years.
Young Forever [feat Mr Hudson]
This is an awesome way to end things. Reminds me a lot of the way he ended Kingdom Come with Beach Chair with Chris Martin. I expect I’ll hear this one in an H&M in Paris the next time I’m there like I heard Beach Chair in one the last time I was there.
In Summary: I like that most of the album is definitely pop-rap, but not in a super-overly-commercialized way. It’s still rap and/or hip-hop, but for the most part, it’s not something that is going to offend people who aren’t the biggest rap fans.