Release Date: Nov 6, 2007
Record label: Roc-A-Fella
Jay-Z :: American GangsterIsland Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella RecordsAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaAmerica, I'm going to give you an outsider's view of your country. Once upon a time I sat on a train from London to Edinburgh (I was going up there for the annual Festival), when a French gentleman happened to sit next to me. Very clever guy, university lecturer.
Review Summary: Hova's back, and he's made one of the best albums of his career.It seems too goddamn good to be true. Jay-Z, with his public popularity as low as George Bush’s, seems deflated after his supposed “comeback” album, Kingdom Come, failed considerably both commercially-wise and, most noticeably, critically-wise. On a seemingly unrelated note, Ridley Scott’s new movie loosely documenting legendary gangster Frank Lucas, titled American Gangster, is being filled to the brim with hype.
Writer Jeff Chang described the central question of Kingdom Come, Jay-Z's much-discussed post-retirement album from 2006, as being what more could Jay say. Interest in this response was certainly high: Fans gave the record one of the year's biggest opening-week sales figures and the industry heralded it with a Grammy nod. But critics responded with far less generosity.
In September, during a special congressional hearing, hip-hop once again came under scrutiny for violent and/or misogynistic content. (Thanks, Imus!) And once again, rappers invoked the Terminator defense — you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger killed people on screen, why can’t we do it on record? On American Gangster, an album of drug-underworld tales inspired by the Ridley Scott film of the same name, Jay-Z echoes that sentiment, declaring all rappers ”actors,” including himself: ”Believe half of what you see/None of what you hear/Even if it’s spat by me. ” Of course, if that argument is true, it makes you wonder why someone as talented as Jay — dude could probably rap The Hobbit and make it sound fly — would play the same role, the hardened hustler-turned-playboy, for his entire career.