Jay-Z
2001 Man of the Year

jay-2.jpgJay-Z is tough. Always has been. He’s a challenging interview, careful with words, and grants access sparingly. It’s savvy. He knows his value. Since our premier issue dropped 10 years ago this month, with him, the God MC, splitting face time with Master P, Jay has consistently sold a lot of magazines for XXL.

In 2001, Jay’s résumé already featured his classic debut, Reasonable Doubt, and the five-million-selling Hard Knock Life, Vol. 2, among five straight platinum plaques. He ran one of rap’s most respected labels. He was having trouble doing anything wrong. Probably for this reason, there were rumblings in the rap world. MCs near and far were throwing stones at the throne.

In early summer, with his protégé Beanie Sigel rising to stardom and rap circles buzzing that Jay had just wrapped some particularly hot studio sessions, we featured the two of them on our August issue’s cover. (Remember Beanie front and center, with Jay lurking in the background?) Back then, Jay sat with us for an exceptionally thoughtful conversation about competition in the rap game and his mind state during the recording of the work that would come to stand as the crowning achievement of his career: The Blueprint.

Six years later, choosing the 2001 Man of the Year was a no-brainer. But Jay, now more powerful than ever as the president of Def Jam, refused to give us an interview. So instead, we give you some of that famous 2001 article one more time. Jay’s tough. It’s his prerogative.

Now, the album. Dame said you did nine songs in two weeks.
I did seven songs in two days. That’s how it started. With hooks and everything. Complete songs.

What was the motivation?
There was so many people saying this and that, and, for me, it’s like Jordan: It fuels your competitive spirit. I’m a competitive dude. So that’s what really sparked everything. And you know all the other things I got going on. I’ve got so much to talk about. I’ve got so many frustrations right now.

Do you think it’s more so dudes tryna shoot at the top cat, rather than them having real issues with Jay-Z?
I think it’s not more [than them tryna get at the] top cat, ’cause I don’t really be knowing these [rappers]. It can’t be personal. We don’t know each other, na’mean? It can only be personal when y’all have dealings with each other or I’ve done something wrong to these people. I don’t even be knowing half of them.

What can we expect from the new album?
It’s more soulful, because of all these emotions, all of these things I was feeling at the time, but intensified. There was a lot going on.

So the words are fiery, but the music’s melodic?
Right.

Why is the tentative title The Blueprint?
Basically, along with it being soulful, it’s everything that inspired me growing up. It’s the blueprint to my life. It’s songs on there dealing with females, so you can understand my relationship with females. Like, “Oh, I understand why he’s like that.” It’s the blueprint for all the songs and all the things that made you draw a conclusion about who you think I am. These are the answers. You know, “Mama loved me, Pop left me, Sister fed me, Aunty…” You know what I’m saying? All the people and all the things that’s in my life.

So this album bares more of Shawn Carter?
Right. You can pretty much understand why I am the way I am.

——- Read the rest of our Jay-Z feature in XXL’s September 2007 issue (#95)

XXL Staff Picks

Songs of the Year:

“Area Codes,” Ludacris featuring Nate Dogg
“Always On Time,” Ja Rule featuring Ashanti
“Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” Jay-Z
“Bia’ Bia’,” Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz featuring Ludacris, Too $hort & Chyna Whyte
“Music,” Erick Sermon
“Oochie Wally (Remix),” Nas & Bravehearts
“Get Ur Freak On,” Missy Elliot
“Ugly,” Bubba Sparxxx
“Raise Up,” Petey Pablo
“Young’n,” Fabolous

Albums of the Year:

The Blueprint, Jay-Z
Stillmatic, Nas
Pain is Love, Ja Rule
Broken Silence, Foxy Brown
Word of Mouf, Ludacris

  • lukee lefty

    goddamned right betta be Hova, prolly shoulda been 1998 too, but i knoe i knoe we gotta show love for the south or Pimp C is gonna cry and shit lol.

  • Holla

    The Blueprint is the best album of the past 7 years – hands down. Changed the game – especially the production. He made Kanye and Just Blaze. Jay made all those soulful beats popular.

  • Gino

    it was ludas year he was hot.. hova was hot but luda blew tha scene up

  • http://1290wmcs.com MYDDLE

    This is disgusting, everybody know that STILLMATIC was a better album then BluePrint…Nas should be man of the year

  • Incilin

    Yes indeed. This was a no brainer. Although I think “Devil’s Night” should have been included on the top album list.

  • Rockcity

    Blueprint, the best album of the past 7 years? Thats pushin it. If nas dont get the 01 spot, then he should at least get the 02, everyone thought Jay was the king until nas got at em,Plus he showed ppl that u dnt have to make commercial bullshyt jus to be on top, he spoke for the love of hip hop and thats what made stillmatic is an amasing album, but whatever u cant tell xxl’s fake ass nothin.

  • http://myhangover.wordpress.com/ Big Homie

    And in the year 2007, Jay is still the man of the year.

    Blueprint > Stillmatic

  • 88andup

    Blueprint > Stillmatic
    ^^^^^
    no doubt, jay had it locked in 01′, thats when he started claimimg he was the best to ever do it and, well, he proved it…

  • CARTER III

    CARTER III
    BEST RAPPER ALIVE
    BITCH

  • Biggie

    jay was & still is tha man, there aint no other rapper thats real than hova

  • Rodjilius

    as a rapper i never really cared for jay-z that much i thought he was ok but with as much money he makes and how much everybody loves him i cant hate but i still like nas better tho

  • Tragic

    BIGGIE, Nas and a few others from the 90′s remain real, however, soulful beats are what real artist use, not all of this “Crunk” stuff, because soulful beats flow well with lyrics, and Crunk music doesn’t. By the way, “Illmatic” From Nas > all Jay-Z’s Album, just like Either > Takeover. But, nonetheless congrates to JAY he’s still one of my favorite Emcees.

  • COMPLETE PACKAGE

    NAS GOTS TO GET ALBUM OF THE YEAR, BOTH WERE TIGHT BUT HIS WAS TIGHTER

  • sk

    @tragic u should tragically kill yourself …Takeover> Ether ..please man everybody wanted Jay to lose plus Ether wasn’t expected from Nas an it’s nothing but made up stuff and speculation……..an dude you must have bumped your head something terrible to think “Illmatic” is better than Jay’s whole catalog GTFOH

  • sk

    lmao…y is Foxy Brown nominated for “man” of the year???….this guy above me wants attention…who won the “War”??…Nas works for Jay now

  • redd

    I came in ya bentley back seat/skeeted in ya jeep > you a dick ridin faggot. Stillmatic was a very weak attempt of nas trying to repeat illmatic which he failed at. The takeover AND superugly get way more personal than ether. Nas came at hov with silly name calling and constant gay insults. Jay fucked his babys mom. Now jay is his boss. Nas stays losing.

  • Prophecy_projectz

    Roc-a-stans in the house lol. Nah Ether was dope and LA Reid is the boss so let it go lol. But 2001 was Jay’s year no question and that List of albums and songs. I’m suprised XXL nominated Nelly as 2002 man of the year, surely it was Nas? Its all good though.
    Albums and songs of the year are on point although I think Beans album or Jadas should be there instead of Ja’s.

  • Rizzop

    Blueprint > Stillmatic
    ^^^^^
    no doubt, jay had it locked in 01′, thats when he started claimimg he was the best to ever do it and, well, he proved it………………………
    ………………Proved it by losing the battle?? How so? Nas Exposed jay, even bleek co-signed that shit

  • Chicago88

    I’m a big Hov fan but I think Takeover and Ether were equal. They both had different concepts. Blueprint will remain the best album in the last 7 years Stillmatic comes in at #2.

  • H-LO

    I agree, The Blueprint is arguebly the greatest rap-album of the decade (so far). The Closest being Stankonia (if you can count it due to the stylistic diversity), Marshall Mathers LP, Like Water For Chocolate, Cold Vein – Cannibal OX, Supreme Clientele.
    Ether may equal Takeover, but as an album Stillmatic doesn’t come close in quality and consistensy. There are many hot line, but few hot songs. I would rather compare it to Illmatic. Sure it doesn’t surpass it (and I say this because I love it and Not becaue I don’t dare), but if I should put list together with the albums of both artists, it would take five more Jay albums, until I would rank the first one of Nas.
    The Blueprint was the crowning achievement of his I Will Not Loose – run
    (preceeded by Vol.3, Dynasty).
    Nas couldn’t ether him. He could only himself, as partly happened with the R. Kelly abortion. The rest I couldn’t express better than John Bush of allmusic guide: “After the immediate classic The Blueprint found him at the peak of his powers, and The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse came as the most deflating sequel since Star Wars: Episode I, his follow-up (and possible siren song) impresses on the same level as the best of his career”

  • BklynBandette

    Hov had shit on lock for Eight Straight Summers. It’s hard to pick one and ignore the rest. I gotta get back to y’all on this one.

  • Fasa

    that nigga got roc a fella records,rocwear,armadale vodka,a club,half a b ball team…fuck it,he is d man.Plus,he got a fly chick on his arm tryna upgrade him!beat that fuck heads.in conclusion…its not personal,its strictly bussiness.hola Nija!

  • G

    LOL @ people thinkin lil wayne has anything on Jay. So far, Jay been the best rapper alive.

  • NIFTY

    JAY-Z = BEST RAPPER ALIVE

  • http://www.xxlmag.com/?p=12930 OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH SNAAPPPPPP

    HA tell me why this shit true tho

  • green doggg

    in 2OO1 jay z had it locked spot#2 belongs to nas .both blueprint and stillmatic are classics

  • V V V

    If You look at it on a global Scale Ja Rule dominated 2001 hands down.
    Not Jay bashing but he’s not that big anywhere else around the world!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cuban Link

    I think NaS deserves it over him.I mean maybe Jay was fire this year (2001 I mean, not 2007) but Nasir dropped a classic after 2 whack albums in a row, and made a huge comeback.I mean, if he hadnt dropped “Ether” do you honestly think people would still be talking about hip hops state in the mainstream as much as they are now?Its cuz of HHID that cats like Luda got so self consious about the south sucking, which is weird cuz Luda aint bad.

    But whatever, Jigga desereves it I guess, sall good.But there are like 7 years u could make Jay have the man of the year.NaS really only has ’94 or ’01.

  • Nely

    I don’tknow about these top albums but i’m sure “Until The end of time” from 2pac sold the most in 2001

  • Nely

    I don’tknow about these top albums but i’m sure “Until The end of time” from 2pac sold the most in 2001

  • Tumi

    This is the album that gave us yhe best diss record of all time (Hi Nas). All of you know that Blueprint is a classic. My 2nd most favourite album of all time . Jay is the GREATEST!!!