Review Summary: Jigga follows up a landmark classic with a not-unpleasant effort that is the definition of average.
If it weren’t already blatantly obvious, double albums are absolutely, unequivocally, and without retort nothing more than a cash grabbing tactic. We know this whether or not we truly accept it, but some artists have enough clout where it really doesn’t matter. If an artist is good enough, we’ll buy their sh*t, even if the latest product is clearly designed to glean more dollars and has a high likelihood of suffering from an incomprehensible level of bloat, a direct correlation to the artists’ respective overpowering egos. On the subject of egos, if Dante had laid out a treatise on the 7 levels of pure, unadulterated arrogance, Jay–Z stands alone in a genre that is at least 63% about boasting, regardless of whether it’s about how many hoes are owned, how many G’s have been clocked by that artists trigger finger, or exactly how filthy God Damn rich that individual is. Owing to his unquenchable thirst for dollars and his reverence to Biggie and Pac, Hov dropped the patented “I just made an inarguable Hip Hop classic and now I’m going to follow it up with a double disc because it’s going to cost $7 more per album and people are still buying CD’s and it’s going to make me even more ridiculously rich and who really gives a sh*t if a sizeable portion of it would have been laughed out of the room in the recording session for my last album.” Ladies and gentlemen, we give you “The Blueprint 2.”
“The Blueprint 2” shares similarities with Pac’s “All Eyez On Me,” Big’s “Life After Death,” and Wu-Tangs “Forever” in the sense that it is a double album that directly follows an undisputable, top 100 Hip Hop album of all time classic. When you drop a landmark like the original “Blueprint,” “36 Chambers,” “Ready to Die,” and “Me Against the World” and have pretty much every industry lap dog and Hip Hop fan riding your dick like an up and coming Tara Reid in a producers audition trailer, it’ not hard to see why one would attempt to ride that collective good worth into a mother*ckin paper chase. Predictably, these albums sold, and mission was steadily accomplished. The difference between the “Blueprint 2” and the aforementioned contemporaries is that it is far less interesting and more frustratingly average. Pac, Big, Wu-Tang’s double cash grabbing monoliths were all marked by the distinct feature they all brandished a respectable list of inarguably killer songs, mired by an absolute avalanche of horrendously sh*tty filler. In short, all of those albums would have been classics in their own right had they been pared to one disc. “The Blueprint 2” is not like this in any sense. One could argue that it is even more consistent, as while there are very few tracks that are “Player Hater” or “What’s Your Phone Number” awful, absolutely none of it will blow your mind, something that about 75% of the original Blueprint clearly did.
To Hov’s credit, this was his 7th album in 7 years, not counting the acoustic release that gapped between Blueprints, and the fact he put out a 25 track album that mostly doesn’t suck is somewhat commendable. The main problem is it’s mostly forgettable and finds Jigga hopelessly scrounging for ideas. 3 of the first 4 tracks on the first disc are direct borrows from another artist. Opener “A Dream” features a gorgeous Kanye beat, yet most of the song is Biggie Small’s “Juicy,” not exactly quelling Nas’ claims that Jigga made his paper by riding Biggie’s corpse into the sunset. “The Watcher 2.0” is predictably a redub of the opening track on “Chronic 2001,” but at least Dre shows up for a verse. Lead single “Bonnie and Clyde 03” borrows exclusively from 2Pac’s “Me and My Girlfriend,” an irony in itself as Pac called him a “corny sounding mother*cker” on that very album. “I Did it My Way” is an aping of Paul Anka’s classic, and Hov even rips off the original Blueprint’s “U Don’t Know” later down the line, even more embarrassingly getting completely outshined by MOP’s verse.
To be fair, “The Blueprint 2” is rarely unpleasant, and tracks like “Blueprint 2,” “Diamonds is Forever,” and most notably, the haunting “Meet the Parents” are better than the majority of Volumes 1 and 3 in his “In My Lifetime” trilogy, but that’s not enough to save this from being a tripe imitation of his previous classic. The legacy of “The Blueprint 2” is that it doesn’t suck, but that’s absolutely not a viable excuse for tricking millions into laying down $20 on a product that promises the same merits as his previous best work. I guess we all should have paid attention to the fact that Jigga routinely follows up his classics with sh*tbombs, but in 2002, nobody was paying attention to that glaring fact yet. If you want to hear Jay-Z at his most average and have about 2 hours to kill, the “The Blueprint 2” serves its purpose. If you want transcendent Hip Hop, stick to the original “Blueprint,” “Reasonable Doubt,” and “The Black Album.’ We still want it with Hov, but not like this.