Give me a second. This is the album a young hip-hop nerd, soon to be hip-hop enthusiast, prayed for after hearing Jay-Z’s The Blueprint in 2001. We’ve heard small glimpses with the like’s of “The Bounce”, “Diamonds in Sierra Leone Remix”, “Run This Town” and more. However, now the stakes had risen. Kanye was now a megastar. This album had ungodly expectations, regardless I had the upmost confidence in my two favorite artists of all time.
The album rushes in with drums being pounded in the wild, Jay-Z enters with an animalistic flow commanding your attention. Newcomer Frank Ocean adds a haunting reminder that we govern ourselves at the end of the day. Kanye hypnotizes for a moment, then grabs your face as he takes you along for one of his nightly rendezvous, the morning after is surely to be sunglasses and advil worthy. After a close call with the creatures that lurked, Beyonce lifts us out of the jungle into uncharted territory that is the masterpiece, “Niggas in Paris”, it’s undeniable. Chazz Michael Michaels emphatically announces “we’re going to skate to one song, and one song only”. We journey to a world that we as humans would desire if it were all possible without responsibility and repercussions. It reeks of more wealth, luxury, opulence, ego, pride, competition, arrogance than you could imagine. The immense jolt can only be balanced by the soulful Otis Redding who croons as Jay pops bottles and escorts models into cabs. Through his words I envision this world and it reminds me of a much grander version of my small time hustle. As we cruise on, the two rap titans lyrically weave in and out, like a freshly hung basketball net. Just when you think it’s too much, they remind us that they too pray for a new day each night, because we all have to meet our maker one day. The rap-duo flex their mogul muscle, support black excellence and pride, forgive their haters, reassert their dominance, and then remind us once again that they are truly hip-hop’s juggernaut and it’s fair to say, the throne is in good hands. Amen.