Personnel: K. Briscoe, Luke Steele (vocals); Kevin Randolph, Jeff Bhasker (keyboards).
Audio Mixer: Chris Godbey.
Recording information: Avex Honolulu Studio, HI; Kingdom Studios; Lava Studios, Cleveland, OH; Midnight Blue Studios, Miami, FL; Oven Studios, New York, NY; Roc The Mic, New York, NY; South Beach Studios, Miami, FL; The Holy Chateau, Perth, Australia; Westlake Studio, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Dan Tobin Smith.
When Jay-Z first made a series out of his best album, 2001's The Blueprint, it became a game of high expectations. The first volume saw Jay-Z as vital as he'd ever been, storming back to the hardcore after a few years of commercial success. THE BLUEPRINT 2 took a different tack, with guest shots to compliment his sinuous flows. BLUEPRINT 3 is somewhere between the two, closer to the vitality and energy of the original but not without the crossover bids and guest features of the latter. Kanye West is in the producer's chair for seven tracks, and it's clear he was reaching for the same energy level as the original. "What We Talkin' About" begins the album with a wave of surging, oppressive synth, while Jay-Z enumerates (with an intriguing lack of detail) what he's said and what's been said about him, ending with a nod not to the past but the future (and Barack Obama). There's plenty more lyrical violence to come, but most of the targets are much safer than they were eight years earlier (i.e. opening single and smash hit "D.O.A. [Death of Auto Tune]" (railing against the oft-reviled '00s vocal-tweaking phenomenon is not quite as "politically incorrect" as Jay claims through song). Simply put, the production's big-name solid, the rhyming on poing, as Jay-Z becomes more content with his dominance as a rap godfather in 2009.
Rolling Stone (p.74) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Jay-Z remains a virtuoso, and BLUEPRINT 3 has the usual quotient of punch lines and casually inventive flows..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.63) - "BLUEPRINT is hip-hop as big business, and Jay retains his CEO throne." -- Grade: B+
Billboard - "With witty rhymes, pertinent collaborations and stellar productions from the likes of Timbaland and No I.D., among others the long-awaited BLUEPRINT 3 doesn't disappoint."
Clash (magazine) - "Working with the hottest talents in Hip Hop and beyond all held in place by the hub that is Jay-Z's latent vocal talent for wordplay, phrasing and cadence."