This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
Say what you will about him — but one thing you can’t call Jay-Z is lazy.
The Brooklyn rap kingpin born Shawn Carter has dropped no less than six albums in the last four years, including last year’s outstanding Blueprint. And now it seems they were all a warmup for his most ambitious project yet, The Blueprint 2: The Gift And The Curse, a two-CD concept album on the pros and cons of fame and fortune in the rap game. At least, that’s the pointy-headed music-critic view of it. You could easily ignore all that subtext and just enjoy it for what it really is: Nearly two solid hours of Jay-Z spinning memorable tales of dough, hos, players, haters and his bling-bling world over slamming beats with hooks big enough to land Shamu. Plus you get cameos by Lenny Kravitz (on the slamming rap-rocker Guns & Roses), Dr. Dre (on the bumptious Watcher 2), Beyonce Knowles (on ’03 Bonnie & Clyde) and plenty of others. We should all be so cursed.