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Jay-Z
American Gangster

ROC-A-FELLA/DEF JAM
XL.gif

LOVE:
Inspiration can come from just about anywhere. In the case of Jay-Z, his latest muse is a biopic about the life of Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas. Following the drastic shift in musical direction between his 2003 swan song, The Black Album, and his 2006 comeback disc, Kingdom Come, Jay needed something to get himself back on track. Fans of his storied street tales and lyrical marathons were let down by a disconnected batch of international player’s anthems. In an effort to preserve his legacy and tap into the vein of his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, Hov finds motivation in Lucas’ story and cooks up a pot of pure uncut crack music dubbed American Gangster.

Rediscovering his hustler’s ambition, Jay delves into the many facets of the drug game like an OG passing knowledge down to a new jack. First, he explains how easily one smart Black boy can get sucked into the seedy underworld of the streets on the stirring “Pray.” Then, over the old-school knock of “Blue Magic,” he kicks more of that Pyrex talk, before testifying, “Blame Reagan for making me to a monster/Blame Oliver North and Iran-Contra/I ran contraband that they sponsored/Before this rhymin’ stuff we was in concert.”

Careful not to glorify the lifestyle, Hov makes a concerted effort to show the pitfalls as well. On the cautionary “Fallin’,” which is built over a Dramatics sample flipped by Jermaine Dupri and No ID, Jigga reveals, “The irony of selling drugs is it’s sorta like you’re usin’ it/Guess there’s two sides to what substance abuse is.” Driving his point home even further, the God MC transforms Pharrell’s sexy synth score for “I Know” into a twisted love affair where Jay is personified as his sweetheart’s drug of choice.

More than anything, Shawn Carter’s words here are critical. Perhaps that’s why he opted to bypass a chorus on the appropriately titled “No Hook.” Rhymin’ like he’s on the brink of an emotional breakdown, Jay sends a passionate kite to all the aspiring d-boys trying to follow in his footsteps: “Own boss, own your/Masters/Slaves/The mentality I carry with me to this very day/Fuck rich, let’s get wealthy/Who else gon’ feed we?”

HATE:
Too bad most of Jay’s co-d’s don’t have as compelling testimony. While word of the two Carters’ finally converging on one track should be cause for rap nerds worldwide to simultaneously soil themselves, the resulting “Hello Brooklyn 2.0” is a lyrically limp endeavor by Lil Wayne. Not only does Weezy not bring his A game, the fact that a potential BK anthem features a New Orleans rapper who resides in Miami raises even more questions. Unfortunately, the same thing happens to Nas, as he plays the anchor on the rigid organ-fueled frenzy “Success.” That’s not to say God’s Son’s verse completely sucks, it’s just, after two monstrous murdergrams from Jigga, Nasir’s monotone delivery pales in comparison.

The only other structural offense on American Gangster is the lyrical time traveling. Both the dreamy “Say Hello” and the Beanie Sigel–featured “Ignorant Shit” begin with Jigga spittin’ with Mafioso clarity about his dark past, only to end with modern-day critiques of Rev. Al and Don Imus, respectively. While the insight is greatly appreciated, Jay should just stick to the script, re-up and get back on his shift. ’Cause when the Roc Boy’s in the house, oh my God.—ANSLEM SAMUEL

CHECK OUT THE REST OF XXL’S LOOK BACK AT THE YEAR’S BIGGEST ALBUMS IN OUR SPECIAL LOVE/HATE ISSUE (JAN/FEB 2008)

  • http://myspace.com/codedaicon Code

    Ay Hov did it again, giving the people another classic. I will say that “Kingdom Come” didn’t deliver like I wanted too, but he proved himself this time. If I was up to me I would give a XXL just because it’s better some of these albums that came out this year (Take Notes Jim Jones)

    • REESE

      AMERICAN GANGSTER = THE BLUEPRINT 3

  • Code

    Ay Hov did it again, giving the people another classic. I will say that “Kingdom Come” didn’t deliver like I wanted it too, but he did it this time. If it was up to me I would give it a XXL rating cause it was better than some of these albums this year (Take Notes Jim Jones)

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  • http://www.myspace.com/damaris377 JayZhov1996

    jay-z Should of got a better rating he should of got a XXL xxl dont kno how 2 rate shit Cassidy got a L and hurricane Chris got a Xl come on be serious man these nigga’s wildin man FIRST

  • Teddy

    the beats all suck on this album except for ignornat shit they should release the acapellas so it can be remixed up liek the black album

    • H-LO

      The Acapella version has just been released, so that ignorant asses like you can start working – just kiddin.

    • Black

      Nigga what album was you listening to, all of the beats on this album are hot. It takes a real lover of music to uderstand the beauty of this album. GROW THE F@/K UP

      • beans

        well said black

    • Legacy

      comon now fam. hove could u ever say this ablum sucked and the beats were wack this album was crack fallin is a classic and so is I know! not to mention blue magic the whole album was crack and better than kingdom come more street so keep in tuned littel niggas and katchup! WEST PENN

    • big dick cheney

      Yea youre clearly deaf. THe beats were off the hook most of Jay Z’s albums were whack except for Reasonable Doubt and one or two others.THis shit is fire tho.

    • Nadda Nathan

      Nigga Please….

    • http://www.audioliquor.com Challz

      They did

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  • TJ

    THAT WAS TO GET XXL BEST ALBUM THIS YEAR

  • http://XXLMAG.COM KB

    AND THE WINNER IS HOV… MY MAN..SPEECH!!!!

  • MDAce15

    American Gangster easily shouldve been XXL! This was easily the best album of the past few (not months) years! Im glad it was given an XL but clearly deserved more. Im disappointed in you XXL, but Im proud of Jay. My Man!!!

  • Ali

    I usually don’t agree with the ratings on here cuz they suck dick (check Chamillionaire) but this was fair….if it wasn’t for “Party Life” & “I Know” then it would be XXL for sure…..Fallin & American Gangster r tha shit!!!

  • A.E.S.

    I don’t understand how this album can get such a good rating… Beats are boring and/or unfinished and Jay-Z often delivers soulless and unenergetic rhymes. I know Jay is a legend in the game, but this album is NOT a classic.

    • http://xxlblog BK Repper

      soulless what the hell are you talking about you must be one of them people he was talking bout on renagade dont listen to music u just skim through it

  • Wez

    Fuck XXL, this is a XXL album!! The Cocksucker that rated this don’t no shit about Hip Hop!! I bet it was a young ass motherfucker that only likes Ringtonerap. Get the FUCK outta here bitch!! AG is a CLASSIC!!
    XXL just gonna fake it till they make it!!

  • sean_izzle

    AMERICAN GANGSTER IS A DAMN GREAT ALBUM SO DAMN SOLID
    EAST COAST ALL DAY ALL THE WAY FROM EUROPE

  • H-LO

    Really great album. Top10 candidate for years end polls for sure! I got addicted to it, what doesn’t happen all the the time. Yes, it has some minor flaws here and there, when it gets a bit sluggish or his vocals slip into this awkward airy sound (I can’t believe they kept some of the takes in Party Life), but I wouldn’t skip one track, you get the best out of it by listening to it in it’s entirety. Party Life for example serves as an introduction to the strong 4-song final. Another addition to one of the greatest catalogues of an solo rap artist. Now, one month after it’s release, I’d rank it seventh best Jay album in my book, one place ahead of Vol. 2. That may sound rude, but he’s been so good before!
    peace

  • Sounds & Words

    “Eminem murdered you on your own shit”
    Remember that Nas?

    After “Black Republicans” & “Success” you won’t say shit.

    And the winner is… Hov ,my man

    • Prophecy_projectz

      Nas verse was better on both. Ironically Jay bit Em on Success

      • Kev Lomax

        Equal on Black Republicans, but Nas’ verse on Success was ass crack? Hot garbabge.

  • http://kellsfetish.com Lo-Doe

    Nice album! I could roll the rating of an XL. Kingdom Come was better to me and that was a GREAT comeback album because it showed so much growth in him as an artist and as an individual.

  • bornnraisedcmr

    How could this album not get an XXL? Because of Hello Brooklyn? And even tho its the weakest song on the album it is still a banger. And Success is one of the best hip hop tracks Ive heard from NY in a while. XXL trippin i see why I stopped my subcription to yall mf’s!!

  • k-weezy

    Fucked up should have been XXL – is this as good as hurricane cris album fuck no

  • http://NOTHINGBUTRUMORS.COM NOTHINGBUTRUMORS

    JIM JONES SEXTAPE ?

    NEYO GETS INTO FIGHT WITH BOW WOW?

    IRV GOTTI GETING BRAINS FROM SUPERHEAD

    ALL THAT AND MORE AT

    NOTHINGBUTRUMORS.COM

  • real hip hop

    *******************************************
    HOW DOES THIS ALBUM GET THE SAME RATING AS HURRICANE CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU SERIOUS!!
    *******************************************
    YOU GUYS ARE CRAZY!!!! CHANGE IT TO A XXXXL RIGHT NOW THIS IS A MODERN DAY CLASSIC, THE BEST IVE HERD IN A WHILE… AND, ANYONE READ WHAT THE CRITIC HATED….. IT WAS NAS AND LIL WAYNES VERSES ON THE ALBUM, ITS JAYS ALBUM AND HES ON POINT WITH THIS ONE, IF HAVENT ALREADY YOU NEED TO BUY IT!!!!

    I SPEAK THE TRUTH WHEN I SAY CHANG THE RATING RIGHT NOW!!!!!!

    XXXXL!!!!!!!!!! WHOS WIT ME!!
    *********************************************

    • http://XXLMAG DUNFIYA

      THEY DONT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE LYRICAL,JUST BEING FRESH,AND INNOVATIVE WILL GET YOU A XL RATING,WHY EVERYBODY GOT TO BE THE SAME FOR SOMEONE TO LIKE YOU?I PUT MY MONEY ON IT THAT YOUR’E A FOLLOWER NOT A LEADER…..

  • Jerz!

    not even saying if I agree with the rating or not, but this was a god-awful poorly written review.

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  • Dan99

    What the fuck did you mean NaS verse was subpar comparing to Jay-Z, If you actually listen to what he’s sayin, it actually has meaning to it.

  • http://www.cdbaby.com/mrpain mr.pain

    good ablum holla at me. http://www.cdbaby.com/mrpain

  • clammy claude

    american gangster getting the same rating as hurricane cris’ album …..wow…xxl man u guys are so unpredictable..crazy

  • birdman

    how the hell are you guys going to give huricane chris XL and give Jay-Z XL they need to start to listen to what is being said than a bay bay XXl needs to hire some writer that know music

  • http://myspace.com/yfloremix yflo912

    D’s dudes on xxl r really trippin, i agree with homy above. This is a MODERN DAY CLASSIC. This shoulda been XXL 4sure. I liked Kingdom come but Jay REALLY stepped his game up on this album. His flow is ridiculous, he’s murdering cats with ease. I like wayne but let’z c if weezy produces a classic when his new album drops.

    Weezy= great flow,swag & style but no substance
    Jay-Z= great flow,swag & style with substance
    both are great rappers tho, but i still feel like Jay stands alone at the top

  • JAY STONE

    Another classic album from jigga.watch out for NIGGER!

  • Eric from Cleveland

    Who hires these lames to critique a album? Lil Waynes verse wasn’t suppose to be monster. You lames need to respect the art and look at the content and how relevent a verse is compared to you lames always making it a competition issue. Nas verse was fire and Waynes verse was relevant to the song. The internet lames are killing hip hop and album sales

  • stan marsh

    do yall listen to music or just skim through it

    wait these the same people who gave Hell Hath No Fury and XXL

    pathetic

  • http://www.xxlmag.com YoungLRob

    You XXL writers gotta be lames. I know ya’ll ain’t street niggas. Any real nigga knows that American Gangsta is Jay’s best albulm since Reasonable Doubt; A fuckin’ classic. Waynes verse fit the song perfectly. If you actually listen and can comprehend what Nas is saying, then you know his verse was murder. Same goes for Black Republicians.

  • 123

    Nas killed ‘Success’, fuck is the reviewer talking about.

    • Nadda Nathan

      i was thinking the same thing dawg NAS rocked that shit.

  • Aaron Alcorn

    I can’t believe Amercan Gangster only got an XL rating. This is one of the best albums to come out so far this century. What xxl it wasn’t “crunk” enough for you. We will all see the truth come out when The Source gives it the 5 mic rating it deserves. Best song “Say Hello”

  • T.R.E.Y.

    Jay’s verses are better, but yeah Nas’s verse is ill.

    also, damn people need to stop “OMG Weezy’s not from New York” as a “complaint” for “Hello Brooklyn.” i mean if he’d killed it would that be an issue? his verse/hook there are amusing and his falsetto attempt at the end is hilarious.

  • jbird

    yall fukn gay. why the hell jay wanna make a cd for a movie that features a snitch. thought this rap game was no snitches and shit, but jay wanna do this for Frank Lucas, a snitch. i’m confused to the direction of rap and how people play the game.?

    • fuck outta here

      Jbird? More like stool pigeon. Get off the computer and back in the streets you homo thug….

  • Niiso

    “..Doesnt completly suck…” are you f…ing kidding, Nas’s verse was way better. Jays rymes werent all that hot on success.

  • life accordin to dutch

    DONT KNOW WHAT ALBUM WAS RATED HERE…JUS LIKE THE BLACK ALBUM..THIS ONE WILL GO DOWN AS A CLASSIC TOO.2 MANY LAMEZ R COMMENTIN ON THIS SITE………ANYBODY WIT EARZ CAN HEAR THE GREATNESS ON THIS ALBUM…….2 SHOW U HOW WACK NIGZ IS..MUHFUCKAS SAYIN THEY AINT LIKE PARTY LIFE..WHAT FUCKN PLANET R U ON…LISTEN 2 THA MUSIC…….THIS IS HEAT IN THE ESSENCE..LAMEZ MUS B ON THA RISE…..THA BEATS R BORIN….U R A HIP HOP DUMMIE..NOTHIN ABOUT AG IS BORIN..SORRY HOV HATERS LOSE AGAIN.

  • co
  • tawanda

    I live in australia and i had to wait at least 2 weeks after the release of american gangster to get my copy. I really wasnt disappointed, Jay gave me something to reflect on… in terms of the state of hiphop …. our ignorance is increadible dudes why people rate tracts like big pimpin, and give it to me in front of tracks lke meet the parents, beach chair, gunz and roses. the lyrical content is more than skin deep.

    to rocafella/def jam why is it that fifty cent album was in stores here weeks b4 release date moreso kanye was in stores DAYS AFTER RELEASE DATE

    why cant we get free’s album here… unlike alot of ignorant people i support artist by buying their albums ITS HE ONLY WAY WE CAN KEEP THEM WORKING>>>>>>

    GO BUY FREE’S ALBUM ITS BLAZING HOT.. IT DESERVES TO SELL BETTER THAN THAT

    GRAB 2 AND SEND ONE AS A CHRISMAS PRESENT FO A FRIEND

  • TAWANDA

    people shouldnt comment if they havent bought the album…..

    DOWNLOADING IS KILLING THE INDUSTRY

  • http://www.myspace.com/biggd3022 Young Prophet

    No doubt this is one of the best cds of the year. but i agree wit its rating. some tracks are good but excessive and irrelavent to the album. and Nas did keep up with Jay on Success. Nas outdid him on Black Republicans no doubt however the verse on Success is great but not as good as the Black Republican one. u gotta listen to Nas’ verse on Success to truly understand, its crazy. not takin away from the extreme verses jay layed down. but to conclude my point. this album is excellent.

    1. Reasonable Dount
    2. Black Album
    3. American Gangster or Bluepint (yea i put them on the same scale)

    Best tracks (No Order):
    Pray, American Dreamin’, Fallin, Success, Say Hello, and No Hook

  • t-money

    American Gangster equals classic nuf said. The way Jay-z created a linear story is hot and creative. This album is crazy I also believe this deserves a XXL.

  • CLASS

    yo that is a bull shit ass rating to give Jay on the album. hurrican chris and hov are not equals period. thats wat yall gave kingdom come n this was far better. is deserves a XXL no question.

  • realtalk

    wot!!!Booooo we say its XXL but ugiv it XL?wtf

  • http://www.xxlmag.com/?p=16955 Q

    Classic album, but they left off one X. – Q

  • Craineum

    YO MY MAN JAY-Z HE DID IT AGAIN. NAW MEAN YEAH I SAY WERE GOING TO HEAR MORE FROM HIM.

    CALL AN AMBULANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Big B

    Best album of the Year

  • Khayan from The Bronx

    THE ONLY THING I CAN SAY ABOUT THIS RATING IS THAT I BETTER NOT SEE ANY RAPPER WITH A XXL RATING FOR THERE ALBUM. YALL READY NEED TO GO BACK N LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM AGAIN. IT’S ON THE LEVEL OF THE BLUEPRINT. YALL ARE REALLY BUGGING!!!!

  • Roc is in the buildin

    You guys are out of your damn mind for not giving this an xxl. Nobodys content is even close to messin with Jay-Z ( the greatest rapper ever). “I miss the part where this start bein bout Imus What do my lyrics got to do with this shit. Scarface the movie did more than scarface the rapper to me, still that aint to blame for all the shit that happened to me. Are you sayin what I’m spittin, is worse than these celebutants showing they kitten yuou kiddin, lets stop the bullshittin, till we all without sin lets quit the pulpitin’”
    - #1

  • http://www.myspace.com/strikez1314 B.E.

    TO THE ALBUM RATINGS EFFECT THE ALBUM SALES.IF YO SHIT AINT HIGH I AINT BUYING BUT WITH THIS RATING YA’LL WERE WAY OFF.AMERICAN GANGSTER WAS THE BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR HAND DOWN.WAYNE VERSE WASNT ALL THAT BUT HE STILL DID WAYNE AND NAS DID NAS.EVERY TRACK ON THERE WAS SO SOULFUL FROM THE LYRICS TO THE BEATS EVERYTHING WAS GREAT.THE STORY LINE WAS JUST RIGHT.IT HAD EVERY FEEL.XXL YA’LL SHOULD KNOW BETTER.THIS AINT NO AVERAGE NOR A ROCKEY NIGGA WE GOT HERE THIS GOD MC HE JAY HOVA!!!TO ME JAY AINT DROP NO BULLSHIT YET.HE IS THE BEST!!!

  • http://xxlmag.com William p.

    “no more big WILLY my game is grown prefer u call me WILLIAM”- can I live.
    I bet have da fukn staff of XXL don’t even know what album dat verse is on. dig it I dunno what da hell niggaz mean when they say kingdome come is garbage dat shit was raw cuz jay aint liv’n da hood life nomo. now he’s back HOLA HOVITO…SAY HIT 2 DA BAD GUY. XXL step yo rap game up

  • http://www.mundony.com ilovehiphop

    Jay Z “Roc Boyz” spanish remix
    Releasing friday 12/21/2007

    The New York latin Urban Duo “Lokixximo” will be releasing a new remix for Jay Z “Roc Boyz” in spanish next friday December 21st, the remix track is called “Lokixximo Boyz” and the anticipated track will be availiable in the Lokixximo’s myspace page below, only for promotional use, Lokixximo is an award winning duo, the most popular spanish rap in New York, check them out.

    Lokixximo – “Lokixximo Boyz” Dec 21st

    **********************

    http://WWW.MYSPACE.COM/LOKIXXIMO

  • NIG

    I THINK THE ALBUM IS GARBAGE……….FUCK JAY-Z HES OVEREXPOSED…….GIVE OTHER ARTIST HIS PROMO AND ALBUM BUDGET AND THEY WILL DELIVER BETTER PRODUCT…..ICE CUBE,ICE-T,AND SCAREFACE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE ALBUM THE REAL ORIGINAL GANGSTA RAPPERS…NOT NAZ AND WEEZY

  • Nadda Nathan

    I would’nt go as far as callin this one the best album of the year,but it sure does sound like a XXL to me y’all,beats are deffinetly bangin and hov was on his A game,SHOUT OUT TO NAS for rockin shit on SUCCES,peace.

  • http://brown-i-web.tripod.com ben

    how the shit do you rate american gangster on the same level as hurricane frank

  • Toronto Mayor

    Jigga stop fuckin bitin themes and shit! for fuck sakes carlito’s way scarface goodfellas now american gangster? u big lipped bitch! be original!

  • http://myspace.com/eblackman eBlack

    I think this album is perfect… I agree with the nas and lil wayne song… There was another joint I really could have don without but for the most part it’s depending on the mood and place for those songs. All in all, I play Jayz’s album and Lil Weezy mixtapes all day cuz that’s really it in the game

  • prakash

    xxl, has questionable ratings at best. it reminds me of the source. the source WAS accurate long ago and then it seemed to accept major payolla.

    the only good records that xxl, gave the correct ratings to where the clispe (xxl), common (xxl), and fiddy (L). aside from that, their xl’s are more suspect than that dude “pretty” from “i love ny2″

  • chris

    hov is the best hands down no agruments

  • cHeVyNuTz

    Don’t get me wrong i love ya’ll magazine. But how you gon give Jay the same rating as the Hurricane album? C’mon now. Ya’ll trippin. American Gangster was one of the best the albums of the year.

  • http://www.audioliquor.com Challz

    Classic album. Should have got XXL. Everything is onpoint. I still listen to it even though I’ve bought new shit. Its the album of the year…anybody say different is pretty much just a little bit mad about something