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A decade ago, music was going through an interesting time. There was a shift in the way that the art was being portrayed: a dependence on mixtapes, artists experimenting with autotune and more. This is where JAY-Z came in. With the arrival of his eleventh studio album, The Blueprint 3, JAY reminded other artists that it’s okay to get back to the basics.
On the 15-track LP, he tapped a variety of artists to help bring his vision to life including Rihanna, Kanye West, J. Cole, Mr. Hudson, Pharrell, Kid Cudi, Jeezy, Drake and more. Not only was each track a reminder that hard-hitting rap was still appreciated, but the project also provided valuable insight from what would be hip hop’s first billionaire. In honor of the album’s anniversary, REVOLT TV have taken a moment to dissect one of JAY’s iconic efforts. Take a look at some of the life lessons taught by JAY-Z on The Blueprint 3 below.
1. A favor for a favor goes a long way
At the time, Drake was considered a rookie in the game, which didn’t stop JAY from recruiting the Toronto spitter for the eighth track on his album, “Off That.” Fast forward to a year later, Hov returned the favor and made a guest appearance on Drizzy’s debut album, Thank Me Later. After fans heard the Brooklyn emcee’s featured verse on “Light Up,” it quickly became one of the most talked about tracks. The lesson is simple. JAY took a chance on someone who was up-and-coming and saw results from doing a favor for a favor. In retrospect, it’s safe to say that it worked out in the end for both emcees.
2. Home is where the heart is
On the album’s fifth track, “Empire State of Mind,” Alicia Keys helped capture the feeling of growing up in New York. In 2009, JAY created the perfect anthem for any New Yorker to live their life abundantly to, which emphasized the importance of not forgetting where you come from. Despite some of his struggles growing up in The Big Apple, JAY was able to reflect on his upbringing in an honest way. The spitter taught that one can use their environment as a source of inspiration for positive actions.
3. Don’t take things at face value
“Run This Town,” which features Kanye West and Rihanna was undoubtedly one of the biggest records on the LP. Surprisingly, the record was originally a demo for the now-Fenty Beaty creator. Being the boss that he is, JAY tapped West to take the track to another level. “It was originally a Rihanna demo, but I took it in another direction,” Hov revealed. “I wanted the whole song to feel like a march, a battle cry. Muhammad Ali had the shortest poem ever: ‘Me: We!’ My statement was ‘We Are!’ Maybe you didn’t hear me? We Are. Yeah, I said it. We Are.” In life, it’s important to take chances and not accept things at face value. After all, the payoff might be worth it in the end.
4. Use your voice to make a statement
JAY hit the ground running with the release of “D.O.A (Death of Autotune).” At the time of the song’s debut, the “Free Meek” executive producer reiterated the importance of getting back to the basics. Although he didn’t cite a plethora of rappers, the Brooklyn emcee boldly made a T-Pain reference. “Y’all n—as singin’ too much / Get back to rap, you T-Pain-in’ too much.” With a bold record like this, JAY taught the important lesson that closed mouths do not get fed.
“‘Death of Auto-Tune’ was a rally call — it was angry because it was like, ‘OK, enough of that. Let’s go! Let’s go! We’ve done that — we’ve heard those records,” he said in an interview with Billboard at the time. “T-pain — fantastic records. Kanye — great. But, let’s go, enough of that. Let them do that if that’s what they want to continue to do, and let’s go here.”
5. We are young forever
On the outro, “Young Forever,” JAY and Mr. Hudson were able to encompass the feeling that everyone wants throughout their lifetime. On the Kanye West-produced track, the rapper contemplated his status in the rap game, while trying to hold onto peaceful memories that he’s created. As life unfolds, it’s important to capture the moment, live fearlessly and unapologetically. “Young Forever” teaches the valuable lesson that it’s important to live in the moment.
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