The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse (stylized as The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse) is the seventh studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released on November 12, 2002, by Roc-A-Fella Records and Island Def Jam Music Group. The album serves as a sequel to his sixth album The Blueprint (2001). Parts of the album were later reissued for his compilation album, titled Blueprint 2.1 (2003). The album debuted at number one, shipping with first-week sales of 545,000 units. The album is certified 3x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA.
The recording sessions took place after Jay-Z’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful sixth album The Blueprint (2001), at the age of 32. The production on the album was handled primarily by Just Blaze and Kanye West – both of whom had recently established themselves as both of one of hip-hop’s most celebrated producers due to the success of The Blueprint – while other producers include The Neptunes, Timbaland, No I.D., Darrell “Digga” Branch, Charlemagne, Big Chuck, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Kendrick, Heavy D, and Neff-U. Unlike The Blueprint which was almost void of guest appearances, The Blueprint² features many featured guests, even out-of-genre artists that include Lenny Kravitz and Sean Paul. Other features include West Coast rapper and producer Dr. Dre, Rakim, Beyoncé, Faith Evans, Beanie Sigel and Scarface. The album also includes an uncredited verse from Kanye West on the Timbaland-produced track “The Bounce”. Pharrell also provides vocals and hooks of many of his produced tracks, for example “Excuse Me Miss” and “Nigga Please”. Though the album has no strict concept, the album contains two discs. The first disc entitled “The Gift” features mainstream, pop-oriented music. The second disc entitled “The Curse” contains dark, emotional, and bravado street songs such as the dark-toned retelling of “Meet the Parents”, the emotional substance of escaping the dangerous ghetto in “Some How Some Way”, the dissing of Nas and Jaz-O in “Blueprint2”, and the bravado “Nigga Please”.
West’s verse on the track “The Bounce” marked his very first appearance as a rapper on any Roc-A-Fella release (although he contributed an uncredited hook to the Blueprint’s “Never Change” the previous year), which was on the sequel to The Blueprint (2001), an album he helped craft. It was, however, far from the last since Jay-Z and West eventually released the collaboration album Watch the Throne (2011), under the label.
Vocals from Audio Two’s 1987 single “Top Billin'” are sampled throughout the song.As well as this, it samples vocals from Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun’s 1993 song “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai” throughout. Pitchfork described “The Bounce” as Jay-Z showing: ‘extreme assonance’. In 2003, the track peaked at number 12 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart and remained on it for a total of seven weeks.
The Blueprint 2 received lukewarm reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 64, based on 19 reviews. According to Nathan Rabin, the record “led many to claim that [Jay-Z] lost his vise-like grip on rap music”. In his review for The A.V. Club, Rabin deemed it “overreaching but surprisingly solid”, featuring a first disc of clever pop-rap jams and a second that was “darker and more erratic”. Rolling Stone critic Christian Hoard said The Blueprint 2 was another “strong record from hip-hop’s most dependable voice” but felt Jay-Z’s flow was more impressive than the production, finding it “long on both bouncy funk and forgettable R&B samples”. AllMusic’s John Bush believed Jay-Z showcased some exceptional songs but could not carry the 110-minute double album as consistently as its predecessor. Soren Baker was more critical in the Chicago Tribune. He felt Jay-Z’s reworking of other rappers’ music (“It Was All a Dream”, “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”, and “The Watcher 2”) was unimaginative while the rest of the album lacked his usual enthusiasm. “It reminds me of nearly every other double CD”, David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly. “It could have been a good single disc.” Robert Christgau named “U Don’t Know (Remix)” and “Poppin’ Tags” as highlights while writing in his Village Voice consumer guide that he was disappointed Jay-Z sampled Paul Anka for “I Did It My Way” when he could not get permission to use Frank Sinatra’s recording of “My Way”.
Rollie Pemberton was more enthusiastic in his review for Pitchfork, writing that Jay-Z “weaves his way through every imaginable style and flavor with unyielding expertise”. Billboard hailed it as “the most ambitious and most fully realized album of his career”, while Q felt it surpassed his previous album. In the opinion of Spin critic Chris Ryan, The Blueprint 2 found Jay-Z “tightening the screws of his delivery” and discovering a “bruising poetry in a flow that once seemed clumsily conversational”.
Disc one: The Gift
1.”A Dream” (featuring Faith Evans and The Notorious B.I.G.)
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs
3.”The Watcher 2″ (featuring Dr. Dre, Rakim and Truth Hurts)
William Griffin, Jr.
4.”’03 Bonnie & Clyde” (featuring Beyoncé)
5.”Excuse Me Miss”
16.”What They Gonna Do” (featuring Sean Paul)
7.”All Around the World” (featuring LaToiya Williams)
8.”Poppin’ Tags” (featuring Big Boi, Killer Mike and Twista)
William Robinson, Jr.
9.”Fuck All Nite”
10.”The Bounce” (featuring Kanye West)
11.”I Did It My Way”
Disc two: The Curse
1.”Diamond Is Forever”
2.”Guns & Roses” (featuring Lenny Kravitz)
3.”U Don’t Know (Remix)” (featuring M.O.P.)
4.”Meet the Parents”
5.”Some How Some Way” (featuring Beanie Sigel and Scarface)
6.”Some People Hate”
8.”Nigga Please” (featuring Young Chris)
9.”2 Many Hoes”
10.”As One” (featuring Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Young Gunz, Peedi Crakk, Sparks and Rell)
Eduardo Del Barrio
11.”A Ballad for the Fallen Soldier”
12.”Show You How”
13.”Bitches & Sisters” (bonus track)
- Isaac Hayes, Jr.
- David Porter
14.”What They Gonna Do, Part II” (bonus track)
- Darrell Branch
Darrell “Digga” Branch3:47
In other media
- “U Don’t Know (Remix)” was featured in Madden NFL 2005
- “The Bounce” was featured in NBA 2K13
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- ^ “Digging deep: Kanye’s sharp edge”. Dummy Mag. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
- ^ a b The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse (CD liner). Jay-Z. Roc-A-Fella Records. 2002. p. 1.
- ^ “JAY-Z: The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse / Blueprint 2.1 Album Review”. Pitchfork. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- ^ “Jay-Z The Bounce Chart History”. Billboard. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- ^ a b “Jay-Z Reviews”. Metacritic. Retrieved 2002-11-12.
- ^ a b The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse at AllMusic
- ^ “Review”. Blender. December 2002. p. 156.
- ^ Christgau, Robert. “Consumer Guide Album: Jay-Z: The Blueprint 2”. Robert Christgau. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- ^ a b Browne, David; Drumming, Neil; Serpick, Evan (November 19, 2002). “H.O.V.A. Kill”. Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 25, 2008. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- ^ “NME Album Reviews – Jay-Z : The Blueprint 2 : The Gift & The Curse”. Nme.Com. 2005-09-12. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- ^ a b  Archived April 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ a b “Review”. Q. January 2003. p. 120.
- ^ a b Hoard, Christian (November 12, 2002). “The Blueprint, Vol. 2: The Gift and the Curse”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- ^ a b Ryan, Chris (2003-06-24). “Jay-Z, ‘The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse’ (Roc-a-Fella) | SPIN | Albums | Critical Mass”. SPIN. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- ^ “Review”. Uncut. January 2003. p. 119.
- ^ Muhammad, Cedric (November 15, 2002). “Hip-Hop Fridays: In Defense Of Jay-Z And Blueprint 2”. Black Electorate. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- ^ Rabin, Nathan (2002-12-06). “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse: Jay-Z | Music | MusicalWork Review | The A.V. Club”. Origin.avclub.com. Archived from the originalon 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- ^ Baker, Soren (November 24, 2002). “The Blueprint 2 — The Gift & The Curse”. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- ^ Christgau, Robert (February 11, 2003). “Consumer Guide: The Prelude”. The Village Voice. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- ^ “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse”. Billboard. November 30, 2003. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
- ^ “Jay-Z Chart History (Canadian Albums)”. Billboard. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Dutchcharts.nl – Jay-Z – The Blueprint 2 – The Gift & The Curse” (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Lescharts.com – Jay-Z – The Blueprint 2 – The Gift & The Curse”. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline” (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Charts.nz – Jay-Z – The Blueprint 2 – The Gift & The Curse”. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Swisscharts.com – Jay-Z – The Blueprint 2 – The Gift & The Curse”. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Jay-Z | Artist | Official Charts”. UK Albums Chart. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Jay-Z Chart History (Billboard 200)”. Billboard. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Jay-Z Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)”. Billboard. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
- ^ “Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 2002”. Billboard. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- ^ “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 2002”. Billboard. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- ^ “Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 2003”. Billboard. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- ^ “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 2003”. Billboard. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- ^ “Canadian album certifications – JAY Z – The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse”. Music Canada.
- ^ “British album certifications – JAY Z – The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse”. British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Cursein the “Search BPI Awards” field and then press Enter.
- ^ “American album certifications – JAY Z – The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse”. Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.
- The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse at Discogs (list of releases)
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