When you look at Jay-Zs body of work, you notice there are a few slight blemishes. Even though Blueprint 2 and Kingdom Come might have fallen below his impeccable standard, his ten album catalog is matched by few. From his classic debut Reasonable Doubt to his stellar pseudo retirement effort The Black Album; the God MC has continually displayed his excellence through flawless flows and incredible wordplay, bundled within captivating accounts of his previous life on the streets. His recent release American Gangster proved to be no different.
Based on the Denzel Washington-featured film of the same name, Jay constructed a powerful concept piece drawing from specific scenes for inspiration. While Carter didnt live through the actual time period depicted in the movie; he was still able to skillfully craft songs that gave the listener a modern look into Frank Lucas infamous run as Harlems number one drug kingpin. Also intertwined are some of his previously buried memories, often making the album feel like an open book to his soul. While many view this effort as one of Jiggas best and a strong candidate for album of the year, we put it to the test with commentary from his Rap peer group.
I wanted the beats to be better on American Gangster. I wanted it to be a situation where it was more fitting the era more. I dont it was necessarily the soul vibes. I just think it could have been a little bit better than it was.
It was cool. It was a good album –
American Gangster, I like the joint I Know. I like the joint Hello too. Its a lot of joints I like on there. I can just let that album ride. –
I havent heard the entire album. I hear a lot of talk about its just okay, not a classic, etc. I think Jay has raised the bar so high over the years as an MC that peoples expectations are unrealistic. He’s not going to reinvent the wheel! Everything I heard was dope. He’s still light years ahead of 99% of these rappers out [with] Em [being] the 1% exception. [Jay] still packing wit and street smarts into these little clever phrases that make you run the song back mad times, trying to figure out how the hell his brain came up with that!
I like that he didn’t give a f*** about what’s hot right now and just made a straight Hip-Hop album with no obvious radio/video jugular attempts, but with an underlying theme. Kind of like what me and Prodigy tried to do with the Return of the Mac album. Its more like a work of art, a fresh plate of music, rather than a new Jay-z record. I think people forget how nice he is, and how powerful his presence is on a record sometimes until they hear him on someone elses song.
Take any one verse off the new album and put it on anyone elses record as a Jigga cameo and I guarantee people [would] be saying, “Wow he bodied it!” Good sh*t Jay. My only issue is that I didn’t get to lace the album!! –
I believe Jay-Z made another great album. [I] can’t tell if its a soundtrack or a album yet! But I bought it and I think if youre an 80’s baby this album is made for you and your soul! Without any need for asking my favorite track is with out a doubt Hello Brooklyn. You know the story she on the run eating but she isnt NORE.
With all the success of putting out albums about his own life; to be able to create a way to put out an album as a visual or based on something elses life & a time in N.Y. history, I think its another great accomplishment. Hov has continued to push the envelope for the culture.
Its hard to pick my favorite tracks. I dont want to say the same ones everyone else is picking but I think American Deaming is amazing. The Marvin Gaye sample and Jays lyrics blend perfectly together. Hello Brooklyn is crazy and Success is a classic!
I like the record a lot. My #1 song is Roc Boys, that sh*t is so crazy! I feel that song is Jay-Z at his best; the swag, the tone, the vibe, etc. I also like the Bad Guy[Say Hello] track, he is talking real s### but f*** that. The Roc Boys sh*t is my #1. I wish I did that beat but its cool my ni**as did it and I hope it takes them to next level. Hov is a stone in the game that ni**as cant move.
Classic from beginning to end!! Im on Party Life heavy right now!!!! –
Dolla Boi Of Playaz Circle:
Its a crowning achievement that any artist is able to consistently sell records in this day and age. For Jay to go gold off [the] rip is amazing. Ive been down since the Reasonable Doubt days and I still support him to this day. There may never be another one like him.
T#### Boi of Playaz Circle:
Its some of Jays best work to date. Just the concept behind everything and the way he put it all together; only Jay could pull that off. What I love even more is that on one of his tracks he uses a similar sample that we have on our song with Ludacris called “U Can Believe It. Being that we have one of the hottest if not the hottest album in the South right now and he got it in the north, it goes to show you great minds think alike. –
I like the Jay-Z album. I wish the beats were little more gangsta but [it] definitely got some jewels on there. –
Jay-Z is a true artist. Most rappers can’t even understand what it takes to do a concept album! To be able to capture a moment in time is what music is all about! Thumbs up! I got to say with Jay, I just like his focus on the music and how he is able to capture a moment in time and really bring it out. A lot of people dont really understand concept albums. Its really who you are as an artist in this music industry, a lot of people just caught up in personal [stuff] and the drama. I think Jay just being a talented person and where he came from and what he did with the album is just beautiful. It teaches other artists how to make a dope concept album and still keep it Hip-Hop and music at the same time. –
DJ Whoo Kid:
I like this joint. Very hard -beat is crazy and I like what Jay is spiting on this.
2) Roc Boys
This is the Jay Z I knew from before. I think this is the hardest joint on the album and Kanye is unstoppable with the track on this one.
3) Blue Magic
[I] didnt like this at first but it grew on me, sorry Jay Z for doubting you.
This is off the hook. [It] will make the gangsters and wannabe gangsters happy; definitely a car system banger.
5) American Dreamin
[A] hot Marvin Gay Sample; simply hot.-
Jay-Z at his best; another reason of true talent any period of time in any year!! –
I only heard the album once. I dont know if its a classic off the rip, I got to go back and analyze it. I definitely like it better than Kingdom Come. I like the joint with him and Nas a lot (Success) though. –
I dont think I heard the whole album. I think Success was pretty good. –
Dirty Swift of Midi Mafia:
American Gangster, I kind of look at it from a whole album perspective. It was kind of cool to see a concept album and it being Jay-z not worrying about doing hooks and making it commercial. It was a concept from beginning to end and not one particular song. Its cool to see that. Most people are not willing to take a chance like that and do something creative and the average rapper wouldnt do something like that because it couldnt sell. It didnt follow the formula of whats going on right now so its kind refreshing. It is still a good possibility that people can do different things and still be accepted commercially as well. I think that was a highlight for me. Its hard to tell if this is a classic, classics are defined by time. I dont know if it has that quality to it. I think for me it was more a refreshing kind of change of what was going with all the ringtone rapping. –
No comment. –
Can I be honest with you? I didnt buy it. I tried to buy it once on I-Tunes (laughs). Quite honestly I dont go to the store that much. From what I heard so far though, I like it better compared to what I heard on the last album (Kingdome Come). Thats why I probably didnt make a point to just go get that record feel me? I feel like music is going through something right now and for me Im playing my old music. Ive been playing Amerikkkaz Most Wanted for the longest right now. –
The Jay-Z grew on me. It wasnt that I didnt like it, I dont know. Im like that with music; sometimes it takes me a while to get it. But usually those turn out to be the better albums for me and thats what this American Gangster album did for me. I liked it, I didnt love it. Now Im starting to really really like it now. I dont know about loving it. –
No comment. –