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Blueprint 3: The next Curtis?

Speaking of Jay-Z, I see he’s been copping a lot of pleas lately as to why there’s yet to be a Blueprint 3.

My bad, if you’re a big fan of Jay-Z’s recent material. I know it was kinda unfair the way I got on him yesterday. Nullus. Why should it make any difference to me if he is a closet case? And for all we know, he might not be. But it seems obvious to me that he’s reached a certain impasse in his career, in which he can no longer just pull an album out of his ass the way he used to.

It used to be the case that you’d hear Jay-Z was working on a new album, and the motherfucker would be on store shelves before your sorry ass could even wash your one good pair of pants, or buy another pair, if you had it like that. You got the idea he would have one of his bag handlers pick out an album’s worth of decent beats, he’d go into the studio one day, ramble for an hour or so, and that would be it.

Though, to his credit, I’m sure the process was more involved than that. It may have taken up to a week.

So how come it’s taking so long for Jay to knock out the Blueprint 3? I’m not sure exactly how long he’s been working on it at this point, but it’s gotta be at least six months now.

I doubt it’s a matter of Jay no longer being capable of going into the studio for a week and pulling an album’s worth of raps out of his ass. He’s definitely lost a step since even the Black Album, let alone back in the ’90s, but I’m at a loss for how that would affect the frequency with which he releases new material. If anything, you’d expect that he’d be able to put out new albums even more often, since he’s not putting as much thought into them.

Word on the street is that Jay basically finished the Blueprint 3 last fall, around the time “Jockin’ Jay-Z” came out, but then decided to shelve it, because it didn’t have enough songs that sounded like “Swagger Like Us.” Or, as I recall, the official excuse was that “Swagger Like Us” came out so well, and he wanted the entire album to be that good, not necessarily an entire album of M.I.A. samples. God forbid.

Anyhoo, I took this to mean that he went into the studio with Kanye, Kanye gave him a bunch of junk like “Jockin’ Jay-Z,” and, who knows, maybe even some of his sensitive 808s & Heartbreak material, and Jay took one listen to the end result and realized it was destined for commercial failure. He figured he’d better just shelve it, lest it end up like the last 50 Cent album, Curtis.

MTV News caught up with Jay the other day at some party he threw for his good friend Lebron James (note that I’m not suggesting anything here), and asked him what the hold up has been. Jay seemed to contradict himself. On the one hand, he claimed that the lack of time constraints in his life these days has interrupted his creative process. But on the other hand, it’s revealed that he’s got a couple of dozen tracks in the can – upwards of twice as many as he would usually record for an album.

If this was seven years ago, he’d just put all 20 or 30 of them on two discs, like he did with the Blueprint 2. I doubt he’s really any more concerned with quality control now than he was then. The difference is, he can no longer count on a few million rubes running out to cop anything with his name on it. To have any chance of competing with the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Kanye, he’s gonna have to put out an album people acutally like. The question is: does he even know what that is anymore?

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