This week, remembrances and tributes have posted en masse regarding what happened 10 years ago today. It was the single biggest tragedy in United States history, as a terrorist attack claimed several thousand lives. New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania were all the center of attention on that day as the center of one of the worst man-made disasters in history.
Much has been written about that day in the past week, and with good reason. However, an overlooked aspect is the music that came out that day. September 11, 2001 was, after all, a Tuesday - the day new music is released here in the United States. Several of the albums released that day have had an unsung cultural impact, or have been a terrifying omen of what was to happen that day. Eschewing the usual news format, we now take a look back at some (but not nearly all) of the more significant releases that day, starting with one that may have cemented a legend...
Jay-Z - The Blueprint
At the time, Jay-Z was one of hip-hop’s most hated artists and had nearly hit bottom. Nas, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, and Jadakiss had all taken shots at Jay-Z. The former two were openly feuding with Jay at the time as well. To compound matters, Jay was also awaiting trials for gun possession and assault. Because of the uncertainty of how much time Jay had left as a free man, The Blueprint was reportedly recorded in two weeks, with most of the lyrics being written in two days.
History shows to most now that The Blueprint was the light that shone through Jay’s darkest hour. The album, with production from Kanye West, is arguably the biggest seller released on September 11, 2001; the record moved 426,000 copies that week despite the tragedies and earned Jay his fourth consecutive Billboard #1. Critics lauded the album as well, as it received perfect scores from both XXL and The Source magazines. Pitchfork has also later placed the album at #5 on its list of Top 200 Albums of the 2000s.
The Blueprint has since been recognized not as the record that made Jay-Z a star, but arguably placed him in the pantheon of rap’s greatest. And the true irony is that the album was actually released a week early to combat the efforts of bootleggers and file-sharers.