In 2001, there was no question, Jay-Z was the best rapper around by miles, it seems he could do no wrong, so Jay-Z decided to do a Live album with the Roots, though there wasn't the doubt surrounding LL Cool J when he became the first rapper to do an unplugged show nearly 10 years previously, but it seemed a little far fetched, especially for a rapper that was used to the best production (Neptunes, Timbaland, Kanye West, Just Blaze) what would he do with a live band and a crowd? well, he'd make the best Live Rap album to date.
The Album starts out with Jay-Z speaking to the audience, one thing that's so great about this album is how much Jay connects with the crowd he starts out by talking about the different alias names he has, which is a good segue to Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
Which is very energetic and sounds much different from the studio version, right away, you realize this is going to be another great moment in Jay-Z's career. Then Jay-Z says that he's going to go through the many moods (Party, Emotional, Reasonable Doubt) but first, he wanted to do a battle song, and what better battle song than Takeover
This really is the most brilliant song on the album, not only is it very exciting and hard, but the band switches the song many times when Jay-Z disses Mobb Deep, the band switches the tune to Shook Ones (A Mobb Deep song) then it switches to Oochie Wallie (A Nas Song) then NY State Of Mind. Just a really great performance and after that.
Jay-Z decides to cool of and perform Girls, Girls, Girls
which isn't really that great of a song, but Jay and the roots make it likeable, but against the other tracks, it's nothing special. Jay-Z feels that the crowd isn't as lively as they could be, so he plays Jigga What, Jigga Who
tells the left side to say "Jigga What" and the Right side to say "Jigga Who" and Jay-Z gets the crowd really involved in the song, and performs great despite missing Jaz-O's awesome verse, you can tell Jay-Z is having trouble rapping fast, and "Jigga What, Jigga Who" Is his fastest song of his career, but he still makes the most of it. Jay then goes into Big Pimpin'
which is arguably his biggest hit, it's very short because UGK's verses aren't included, but it is a standout track on the album, the band plays great in this.
Then there is a pause, and Jay wonders what song he should do next, and decides to do Heart of The City (Ain't No Love)
which is a very underrated song on Blueprint, Jay-Z makes this song better than the album version, and the crowd knows it pretty well for a song that was only out a few months (at the time). Jay then segues into Can I Get A..
which once again does great despite a few missing verses. Now that Jay-Z got the crowd in a Vol. 2 mood, he breaks out his biggest success Hard Knock Life
which has wonderful backup singing and keyboards, and out of nowhere comes Ain't No Nigga
the crowd goes absolutely, and even though it is only 1 minute, it has enough energy to be considered a standout track.
After this, Jay-Z brings someone on stage. You May know her, she's Mary J. Blige and she does 2 songs with jay-z. First is the best song on the album Can't Knock The Hustle
(Which Is My Favorite Jay-Z Song) On This song, everything is perfect, Jay-Z is great, Mary Is Fabulous, The Crowd couldn't be more excited, and the Band plays a Spectacular version that sounds like it was made to be played live. and from there, it transitions to Family Affair
which isn't a Jay-Z song, I guess Mary Was Plugging her album at the time (No More Drama), she does a good job and takes the crowd "Uptown" according to Jay. and after that, he kicks Mary J. Blige off and another great voice accompanies him on Song Cry
which is uncharacteristically and genuinely a sensitive song from Jigga, the Back up singer really makes this song great. And after this, Jay-Z decides to bring out another famous person out, say hi to Pharrell of the Neptunes. Who Accompanies Jay on I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
Which is once again a great performance and gets the crowd involved, even cleverly switching melodies in the song.
After Pharrell leaves, Jay-Z tricks the Audience He Goes "After the show it's The After party and, after the Party it's the hotel lobby then, after the belvie then it's prolly cris, and after the original, it's prolly this" which is the beginning to Fiesta (Which Jay-Z did with R. Kelly) possibly making people think R. Kelly would make an appearance, but out of no where, Jay-Z goes into Jigga That Nigga
Which gets the crowd just a psyched as R. Kelly would've (If not more so), and this son ends the live album... But if you know Jay, you know that's not all. Not even a live album can keep him from putting in a hidden studio track. And it's actually really good, it adresses his beefs and let's people know that he is the king of rap, then reminds us that the Blueprint 2 would be coming out November the following Year.
All in all this is a truly great live album that can really stack up with the greatest live albums ever, There are a few stutters and annoying crowd screams, but that's to be expected, there was unbelievable chemistry between Jay-Z and the Band, he looks like this is his 50th live album, this is good enough for a Jay-Z newcomer or the Biggest Jay-Z fanboy, definitely worth a peep.