Jay-Z Returns to His Classic Style on "American Gangster" Album PDF Print E-mail
By Jordan Brown - Black College Wire   

Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z has an inherent knack for staying hot in the erratic rap climate. His tenth studio album, "American Gangster" proves just that. The 15-track collection was inspired by the fall blockbuster of the same name.


Originally, Jay-Z's previous recordings were selected to be used as a soundtrack to the film, but, according to MTV.com, as he became more involved, the need for a full-length album became apparent. Jay has said he became fully committed to recording a new CD shortly after being inspired by the film during a private screening. Having once lived a hustler lifestyle similar to Frank Lucas (portrayed by Denzel Washington in the film), Hov couldn't resist creating the opus that would become "American Gangster."

The tracks from Gangster hearken back to the Jay-Z that his core fans are familiar with. It's the Jay-Z that gave you classic albums like "Reasonable Doubt" and "In My Lifetime". It's also clear that it was not only the movie that inspired Gangster, but also the rap game's newfound fixation with hustlin'. This is apparent on the first single "Blue Magic," which has a stripped down knock and an abstract hook courtesy of Pharell.

In the song, Hov spits, "So what if you flipped a couple birds/ I can double that in words." He goes on to say, "Just like a b-boy with 360 waves/ Do the same with the pots, still come back beige." These and other drug references show that the d-boy Shawn Carter can still flip with the best of them.

"American Dream" is a standout track with a sampled soundscape that finds Hov digressing to his up-and-coming hustler days. "Hello Brooklyn 2.0" produced by Bigg D, is a track that eager fans have been trying to download for weeks. The song features, once-estranged prot&eacuteg&eacute, Lil' Wayne, and is, "more of a great record, than a lyrical slugfest" as Hov reportedly told MTV News. "Sweet" has an old 70's feel and finds Hov appreciating his lifestyle, but acknowledging that it could've been different. "If I woulda grew up to be a doctor/ My nephews woulda grew up to do the same", he recollects.

The three strongest tracks on the album are "Fallin," "Success" and "Roc Boys", with the latter burning up urban radio as you read. All in all, the album is decent. Fans of the "old Jay-Z" will be satisfied, but those looking for Hov to cover new ground might be disappointed.

The album's production (The Neptunes, Diddy, Jermaine Dupri and LV) and lyrics are what make it a standout piece but the subject matter is nothing we haven't heard before. Many are going to view this album as Jay's smart way of piggy-backing the movie and getting back into the spotlight. Either way, this album will give you plenty of the brilliant quotes and addictive beats that we've come to expect from a Jay-Z album.

Reviews represent the opinions of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Black College Wire.

Jordan Brown writes for the Maroon Tiger at Morehouse College. To comment, please e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . To comment, please e-mail Black College Wire.
Posted Nov. 01, 2007
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