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Music Review: Jay-Z – American Gangster

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Jay-Z’s tenth album American Gangster was inspired by the movie, starring Denzel Washington, of the same name. The title of this album says it all. The CD has 15 tracks of Jay-Z at his best, in relation to being an American Gangster. The album has guest appearances by Nas, Lil Wayne, Pharrell, and Beanie Sigel. It also features production from acclaimed producers The Neptunes, P.Diddy, and Just Blazes to name a few. The album was released November 6, 2007 on Roc-A-Fella Records. The CD is certified platinum and was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best albums of 2007.

Shawn Carter a.k.a Jay-Z has been in the hip-hop scene since 1986. With eleven solo albums under his belt, he has proved the test of time as one of the greats. From his first album Reasonable Doubt to his latest, The Blueprint III, have all gained success.

The album, which is not the official soundtrack to the movie, depicts his experiences as a street hustler. He also gives reference to Frank Lucas, who the movie is about. If you have seen the movie, then you can understand the concept of this album. Though a majority of the songs give references towards drugs and the struggle of hustling, you can feel the energy of his lyrics and how it relates to the movie. Every song relates to the highs and lows of the American Gangster. You may not understand the lyrical content in this album, but his verses are backed up with good produced beats. A lot of the songs on the album have an old school sound dating back to the era of the ‘70s.

Track six is “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)…” This is one of my favorites because Jay-Z flows with the beat that is constructed of: saxophone, trumpet, trombone, bass, percussion, and drums. It gives you another sense of the music from the ‘70s era. The song is a good upbeat song and can be categorized as a party song. Lyrically it’s a song thanking everyone who got him to the top as a hustler and how it’s good to be on top. You can understand this more by hearing the first verse of this song.

Another song I enjoyed is “Ignorant Shit” featuring Beanie Sigel. I really like it because it contains a sample of the Isley Brothers, “Between The Sheets.” This is another song that he lyrically talks about the hustler mentality. The flow of the song goes smoothly with Sigel’s lyrics. He also pays homage to the movie Scarface, which makes sense to the subject of the song.

This is another CD that Jay-Z fans should own. Though this album has a different concept than his others, it’s still a good album regardless of its theme. It’s an album that focuses on one thing all throughout the CD. Not everything on the album I understand just because there are things on it I can’t relate to, but when you hear this CD, you feel as if you can understand his content.

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