Alec Compton ’22
Arts & Culture Editor
Jay-Z: The Blueprint
In 2001, Jay-Z released his sixth studio album, The Blueprint. Despite being over an hour long, The Blueprint is airtight. Anthems like “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, alongside softer tracks like “Song Cry,” prove the artist’s genius. Jay-Z’s career has taken an interesting turn. After he came out of his 2003 retirement, he dropped a handful of critically disappointing albums. That was until he released the emotionally vulnerable 4:44. Since that album, he has taken a mogul role in the hip-hop landscape—a role that makes albums like The Blueprint so interesting to revisit. Here, Jay-Z sounds youthful and ready to conquer the world. The Blueprint largely avoids features, putting Jay-Z and his incomparable flow in the spotlight. The sole feature is Eminem on the track, “Renegade,” a track where both rappers (both legends at the time) hold their own over excellent production. The Blueprint is the quintessential Jay-Z album and is a staple of 2000s rap.
Tyler the Creator: Flower Boy
Tyler the Creator’s career is an excellent example of reaching artistic maturity through both personal and musical growth. Flower Boy’s predecessor, 2015’s Cherry Bomb, was a critical and commercial failure but showcased Tyler’s willingness to take risks. Cherry Bomb’s harsher distorted production failed to connect with audiences, which may have in part caused the starkly different Flower Boy. Not only does the lush and honest album present Tyler’s coming-out story, Flower Boy has some of the artist’s best tracks. Hit-single “See You Again,” a Kali Uchis-assisted song about missing a lover, displayed Tyler’s knack for catchy choruses and excellent songwriting. Tyler’s rapping is also on display: rap-heavy tracks such as “Foreword” have Tyler discuss his career thus far and his worries about the future. Every feature is stellar on this record, with highlights being Frank Ocean’s appearance, and the incredible Lil Wayne verse on “Droppin’ Seeds.” Flower Boy was a massive success for Tyler when it was released and has only become increasingly revered by music listeners as one of the best hip-hop albums of the late 2010s.
Tierra Whack: Whack World
Tierra Whack’s Whack World is one of the most interesting projects to come out of alternative hip-hop in the 2010s. Released in 2018, Whack World is only fifteen minutes in length but contains fifteen one-minute tracks. This is a restrictive gimmick, but Tierra Whack uses the short track length to present a myriad of unique and beautiful ideas. This limitation in length allows her to express so many ideas which might not have seen the light of day otherwise. And each track is vastly different from the previous, giving the album a sense of spontaneity and making it an easy listen. Not every concept flung against the wall sticks, but Whack World’s appeal is in its novel concept. The fact that the music is great is just a bonus.