It was only a matter of time. Last week a number of tracks from Jay-Z's upcoming The Blueprint 3 leaked online, including his collaboration with Rookie of the Year Drake on "Off That." Now, Hov has to deal with his entire album being on the Web: The Blueprint 3 popped up on blogs this morning around the time Jay-Z appeared at a press conference announcing his 9/11 tribute concert.
"I may be the most bootlegged artist in history," he told MTV News shortly after his album leaked. "It's a preview. I'm excited for people to hear the album. I'm very proud of the work I've done, so enjoy it."
(Hear the full album--legally and for free--right now on MTV.com's full album preview of The Blueprint 3.)
The album is as diverse as any project he's put together when it comes to collaborations. Australian musician Luke Steele of pop duo Empire of the Sun appears on the opener, "What We Talkin' About." The cut features the lyrics Jay spit earlier this summer during his Las Vegas show that target the Game and his former business partner, Dame Dash.
The Mr. Hudson-assisted "Young Forever," a pensive track on which Jay puts his career in perspective, closes the album. After threatening to retire for years, the Brooklyn wordsmith sounds like he's about to kick-start another run of yearly output. "Bye-byes aren't for legends/ I'm forever young, my name shall survive," he raps.
And in between, The Blueprint ranges from the familiar — "Run This Town" and "D.O.A" — to the more experimental.
"Hate," produced by and featuring
On "Empire State of Mind," Jay writes his name alongside Frank Sinatra and Robert De Niro as one of New York's favorite sons. Joined by Alicia Keys, the Roc Nation CEO takes listeners for a ride in the back of the Maybach, detailing his rise from the Marcy Projects to his SoHo Penthouse. "I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can/ You know I bleed blue/ But I'm not a crip, though," he raps, before Keys croons, "I'm from Neeeeww Yooooork/ These streets will make you feel brand-new/ Bright lights will inspire you."
"Already Home" is that triumphant, soulful magnum opus that hearkens back to its oldest brother's "Heart of the City." Jay makes fun of his critics and rapper detractors alike.
"Only time they exciting is when they mentioning Shawn," Jigga raps. "... Don't they know that I'm on?/ Don't they know it's foolish to try and kill me with songs?/ ... I opened the door for them, what else can I do?/ These n---as want me to walk for them."
Producer Kanye West comes with a track that has his signature Midwest bounce, draped in violins, piano and bass.
"N---as is mad/ Oh, they call me a camel, but I mastered the drought," Jay comes back later. "What the f---, I'm an animal/ Half man, half mammal/ My sign is Sag/ This is just what I planned to do."
Later, on "A Star Is Born" with J. Cole, Jay gives brief snapshots and memories of some of the most tremendous rap stars of the past 15 years.
"T.I. literally wanted to shoot up the charts," he raps. "What up Jeezy, what it do?/ That reminds me of us back in '92/ Outkast landed, Three Thou was ill/ Like a male version of Lauryn Hill/ Mobb Deep shook it, but Prodigy took it, a little too far/ Can't f--- with Brooklyn."
All day, fans were weighing in on the new record on Twitter and Facebook. Jay kept it cool despite his material leaking out 10 days before the official release day. The iconic MC, though, had reason to relax: He has his own indicator to let him know whether reactions to his music are good or bad.
"My pager is actually ringing right now, so people are probably calling me and telling me they pretty much like it," he explained. "I can tell by the way my pager rings if a song is good or not. It's really going crazy right now."