Jay-Z – Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter

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Download “Big Pimpin,’” which bangs; the best song to come out of this ill-advised series and this piece-of-shit album, featuring the best beat on the album (courtesy of Timbaland) and the best verse on the album (courtesy of Bun B). I’d suggest spinning “Watch Me” which features Dr. Dre and has a good Dr. Dre-like beat by people not named Dr. Dre and “There Has Been a Murder” for using an inspired and indelible sample as its chorus. I shudder to think how much worse the UK version of the album is, which switches these two tracks for two other ones (I have not done my due diligence as a reviewer and listened to those tracks, but I’ve listened to this 71-minute album twice through and I feel like that’s enough on my part).

Oh yeah: 71 minutes? Are you fucking kidding me? I get it: a good chunk of the screentime is given to his protégé Amil since it’s the album directly proceeding her debut, and if you pay close attention to her embarrassing choruses or verses, you don’t have to think too hard about why she disappeared off the face of the Earth afterwards. Even ignoring her, all of these beats not mentioned in the first paragraph are played out well before their runtimes are up because of how basic and ugly the loops are (the flutes of “Things That U Do” try for the exoticness of “Big Pimpin’” but end up sounding like it came from the safari version of some shitty video game from 1999). Meanwhile, Jay-Z raps with “no passion” (I’m quoting the man himself) on top of them about absolutely nothing (with only the occasional quotable). Like 2001 that same year which showed a conflicted Dr. Dre that didn’t know if he should be a gangster or a conscious rapper and proceeded to do both half-assedly, Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter has Jay-Z trying to figure out if he can marry the pop rap sound of Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life with the street style of Reasonable Doubt and proceeding to do both half-assedly. 

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