This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
Too many rappers think boasting is the only skill they need. Thankfully, we have the charismatic Jay-Z to remind us (and them) that there are other strengths required — such as the ability to come up with a catchy chorus now and then.
The New York rapper formerly known as Shawn Carter presents a dozen or so on his solid fifth solo album The Blueprint. Ditching the Broadway show samples for more slow-rolling soul and groove-oriented loops (with the exception of The Doors’ Five to One snippet that anchors Takeover), Jay puts his passive-aggressive delivery and oddly free-form flow to good use on head-bobbing jams like Izzo (H.O.V.A.) and Jigga That Nigga — and still makes time to dis rhyming rival Nas and laugh about his court cases. Yeah, Jay-Z can boast with the best of them. The only difference is, he has good reason to.