Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jay-Z - American Gangster

After the disappointment that was last year's "Kingdom Come" (the work of someone searching for his new space after so much success and not exactly finding it), "American Gangster" sees Jay-Z back to top form. It all started while watching the first drafts of "American Gangster" (the movie): apparently he got so inspired with the film that he felt the need to write a conceptual album about the life of Frank Lucas and so went on to record it in just a couple of weeks. Describing the rise and fall of an almost mythic figure, it includes essays about drugs, crime, dealers, religion, family, etc. It's widely known that these are the themes Jay-Z feels most confortable with and this fact really shows in his confident flow and the urgency of his speech, as if he's once again having fun and doing something not for the money or status but instead because he needs it, almost for his own survival. Instrumentally, the album doesn't feel so strident as "Kingdom Come", choosing direct and efficient beats, with part of the songs having a dry and tight approach while others use luxurious soul and funk samples. The final result has a larger-than-life atmosphere that makes sense: after all, this is a man who has already 10 number one albums in the U.S., a fact only tied by the Beatles. And with "American Gangster", the music once again feels more important than the legend. (8/10)

Jay-Z - Roc Boys (And The Winner Is) (video)

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