The Blueprint

by JAY-Z

Released September 11, 2001 via Roc-A-Fella Records / Def Jam Recordings

Reviewed September 9, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love) (53%), Renegade (44%), Izzo (H.O.V.A.) (36%)

Some consider The Blueprint to be Jay-Z’s best project, which is well-supported by the album’s nature. From start to finish, this album is a certified classic. Nobody was safe, as Jay-Z came for heads on “Takeover” and “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Bar for bar, this might be his greatest display of industry dominance. Conceptually, this album is cohesive, confident, and complete. Its impact is timeless, with beats and samples recycled into modern hit after hit. From “The Ruler’s Back,” to “U Don’t Know,” to “Song Cry,” this album puts on a masterful display of versatility. “Izzo” breathes life into every listen and “Heart of the City,” fills me with pride. Anyone can appreciate this project, whether they’re a fan of Jay-Z or not. – Daniel (9.5/10)

In 2001, Jay-Z was at the top of the rap game, and he knew it. These songs are the epitome of someone who is looking down at his competition, be it commercially or artistically. Jay-Z made an album in two days that most could only dream of making with years of preparation. And to add on to that, The Blueprint beats from some of the greatest to touch an MPC. Songs like “Never Change”, “Heart of The City”, and “Takeover” paved the way for a revolution in soul-sampling. The only glaring flaw in this classic is how badly the lyrics of “Girls, Girls, Girls” have aged. But even then, it’s a phenomenally-produced track with a good enough lyrical performance. Jay-Z glides over these beats with a laundry list of all-time verses, creating one of the must-listen rap albums for any new fan. – Alan (8.9/10)

The Blueprint, JAY-Z's sixth album in as many years, solidified his presence as a constant creative and music mogul. When your album still sells close to a half million copies in its first week—directly following what is looked upon as the worst day in recent US history—you know you’re onto something special. Little-known producers of the day, Kanye West and Just Blaze, made their names known on the project, three years prior to Kanye's debut The College Dropout; the sound and soul of said album is deeply ingrained in the DNA of The Blueprint, even without it commercially existing just yet. JAY-Z may not be the best out and out rapper or artist of his time––some would say he's far from it––but he understands what it takes to make it like no other. He gets his foot in the door, and in no time, becomes the one who opens that same door for others, in the pursuit of his vision. JAY-Z’s formula has never worked so well as it does on The Blueprint. – Peter (8/10)


DeVán: 10/10 | Daniel: 9.5/10 | Hadley: 9/10 | Dominick: 8.5/10

Jared: 8.5/10 | Alan: 8.4/10 | Cam: 8.3/10 | Peter: 8/10