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    Jay-Z’s American Gangster

    American Gangster is Jay-Z’s most anticipated album since the Black Album came out in 2003, and like the Black Album, the anticipation was well deserved. This 15-track CD was inspired by the recent movie ‘American Gangster,’ which is based on the story of the famous Harlem drug dealer Frank Lucas.

    Although it’s a true story, someone who doesn’t know any better might say that the movie is a mix of ‘Goodfellas’ (1990), a little bit of ‘Scarface’ (1983) and a touch of ‘New Jack City’ (1991). So being that the album is based off the movie, it would make sense that it would be a collaboration of sounds as well. I would say that American Gangster (the album) is a mix of Jay-Z’s first album, Reasonable Doubt (1996), The Black Album (2003), a little bit of The Blueprint (2001) and an old school sound.

    Besides the mix of previous sounds, this album also has artists featured on 8 of its 15 tracks. These artists include Kanye West, Pharrell, Nas, Beanie Sigel, Bilal, Lil’ Wayne and, of course, Beyonce. Besides the old school feel to most of the music, there are sampled hooks from legends like Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers, to name a few. With this mix it would be hard for the album not to be a hit.

    The entire album is pretty much one big reference to the movie, which is both a good and bad thing. If you haven’t seen the movie you may not’ understand some of his lyrics.

    Jay-Z’ includes some’ clips of the movie before and after some of the tracks, which will help listeners that haven’t seen the movie follow the album and understand the significance of certain songs.

    Like most of Jay-Z’s’ CDs, the best songs on the CD aren’t the singles, some of which are out right now ‘Roc Boys’ and ‘Blue Magic.’ The radio hits on this album are the obvious choices on the album.’ It is understood why they were the first songs to be’ included,’ seeing that the album was released at’ the same time as the movie. ‘Roc Boys,’ although is a good song, sounds like a typical radio hit. ‘Blue Magic,’ however, isn’t such an obvious choice, but still has the sound and feel of a radio hit.

    If I would have chosen the first song to come out, I would have chosen ‘Hello Brooklyn’ featuring Lil’ Wayne. This song is one of those songs that will be considered a classic 5 or 10 years from now, just like ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’, ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ and ‘Dead Presidents 2’ from Jay-Z’s first album, Reasonable Doubt (1996).

    ‘I stand behind it. I guarantee it. They know that even if they don’t know me anymore than they know the chairman of General Mills.’ That’s a direct quote from the movie and the quote that he ends ‘Blue Magic’ with. Frank Lucas was talking about his product when he said this. This quote can apply to Jay-Z as well, because at this point he’s right up there with Tupac Shakur and Biggie. People know this so they expect great things from him and he always delivers. He has yet to disappoint us.

    When you first listen to this album you may not think of it as’ anything special. But if you really sit and listen to it you’ll see that although it is no Reasonable Doubt, which is in a class all by itself, American Gangster does have the potential to become a classic itself.

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