The Z Factor

Rap that's better than you might think.

Cutting off from conventional hip-hop, Jay-Z has broken new ground with "The Blueprint", which is undoubtedly his best after "Reasonable Doubt".

Nigga-jigga, J-Hova and Shawn Carter see "The Blueprint" as a biography of sorts, each number spelling a part of the life and times of the same man - the one with the tri-figure head, or, as the rest of them know him, Jay-Z. Music that has borrowed from previous overlords like Jim Morrison, The Jackson 5, Bobby Byrd and Bobby Bland, this rapper’s lyrics and added dimensions have produced cuts of a truly superior blood.

A fantastic album, the best among the better are "Takeover" (with The Door’s "Five To One" running discreetly through the length); Izzo plays to the music of "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5; and Renegade combines the notoriety that is Eminem with Jay’s own ghetto nastiness. Finally, "You Don’t Know" has about the best lyrics on this one and contains a sample from Bobby Byrd’s "I’m Not To Blame".

A blueprint to the last holler, this one captures the meaning and making of the man who is Jay-Z. And if this album doesn’t make you loco, you ain’t sharin’ the ghetto blood, brother!

This article was first published on 25 Nov 2001.