On this day, September 11, in hip-hop history..
2001: It’s no secret that September 11, 2001 is one of the darkest days in American history. There were far more important events going on in the country than the release of a new Jay Z album that day. To call the release of Jay Z’s magnum opus, The Blueprint, on September 11, 2001 “bittersweet” seems somehow disrespectful to the victims of the World Trade Center attack but The Blueprint remains one of the most important albums in hip-hop history.
Despite the tragic events of the day, The Blueprint is consistently ranked as one of the best albums released in the last 15 years. It’s influential blend of soulful samples and Jay’s triumphant world-conquering lyricism gave the album instant credibility with hip-hop fans and garnered a unique appeal to mainstream critics, too. After years of locking the streets down with hit after hit, the album felt as if it were Jay’s de-facto coronation to the throne of hip-hop. This can be no better exemplified than his iconic diss song, “The Takeover,” where Jay challenges fellow contender, Nas, for the throne.
The album was not only a critical success but a commercial one, too. Powered by hit singles such as “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “Song Cry,” the album landed at #1 on the Billboard Charts on it’s way to being certified double platinum. The album is also notable for popularizing the wave of “chipmunk soul” in hip-hop , lead by the sound of the album’s producers, Kanye West and Just Blaze . 12 years later, The Blueprint is still widely revered and can be seen arguably as Jay’s finest hour.