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N*ggas want my old shit, buy my old album/N*ggas stuck on stupid, I gotta keep it movin,…” Jay-Z “On To The Next One”

The Blueprint is dead, long live The Blueprint. Sometimes you just can’t go back. It’s a little counterproductive as fans and critics to wish Jay-Z would do “the original” Blueprint over. It was clear after the BP 2 that was never going to happen. Besides, it wasn’t simply the “soulful” samples of the original that made it pop, it’s that Hova had the testicular fortitude (ie balls) to hand the keys over to up-and-coming producers like Kanye West and Just Blaze. In fact, it’s been Jay-Z’s willingness to go outside the box and get producers like The Buchanans (“What More Can I Say”) and 9th Wonder (“Threats”) that helped make his recent work even more memorable.

In the past I have been among the flag wavers demanding more DJ Premier and Ski Beatz on Jay-Z songs and I’ve been told “Oh, he’s been there and done that.” He backs this up on “On To The Next.” However, how does he justify continuing to use all of his old buddies on The Blueprint 3? With the exception of Al Shux and The Incredibles every track is produced by either Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland or The Neptunes. The fundamental problem with that strategy is that all of them are artists who are not going to give him their best material anymore. Timbaland even admitted that “I didn’t give Jay my best material” because he’s saving it for his own Shock Value 2 project.

However, After listening to The Blueprint 3 I must concede that it’s not as horrible as many of my colleagues are saying. Jay-Z can still rhyme rings around the average rapper  and there are many rewind worthy couplets sandwiched between the really bad hooks (ie the extended 9/11 metaphor on “Thank You” is ridic).  I don’t think anyone let down by the BP3 is hating, we just expect more. It’s like watching Kobe Bryant play and he only drops 20. That’s a great game for the average player but after watching him drop 81 it’s like “meh.”

Anyway, since Hova insists that critics “never did it” I’m going to put on my A&R hat and say that these following producers could have made an average Jay-Z  album something to really remember.

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10) DJ Khalil, I don’t think Jay got his best work on Kingdom Comes’ “I Made it” as evidenced by the Clipse “ Kinda Like a Big Deal”

9) Nicolay

If Jay is thinking “global” this producer from The Netherlands has all of the melody and futuristic soul he can handle.

8 ) Black Milk

This Detroit MC/ Producer has the perfect balance of that hard, Detroit Rock with electronic synth sounds that got the kiddies going ringtone crazy.

7) K-Salaam and Beatnick With three albums under their belt this duo is quickly becoming one of the illest remixers in the game.

6) The Runners If Rick Ross’s “Hustlin” wasn’t enough “Lay Back” should have sealed the deal.

5) Tha Bizness Seeing has Jay was riding Jeezy’s “My President’s Black” so hard he should have gotten the producers who made it.

4) Play N Skillz From Chamilionaire (“Ridin Dirty”) to Hurricane Chris these siblings from Texas get it in. They even jack Hova for “Checkin My Fresh”

3) Bangladesh Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” was the most jacked beat of last year (including by Jay-Z) and Luda’s secret weapon would have laced Jigga.

2)The Dream and Tricky Stuart

If Jay wanted a “2009” sound he could have gone to these proven hitmakers to bring some oomph to some of those lackluster hooks.

1) Justice League

After lacing Rick Ross’ “Maybach Music” it should have been a no-brainer for Jay to tap this trio to give him some heat.

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