The Blueprint

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For other uses, see Blueprint (disambiguation).
The Blueprint
Studio album by Jay-Z
Released September 11, 2001
Recorded July 2001; Manhattan Center Studios, Baseline Studios (New York, New York)
Genre East Coast hip hop, hardcore hip hop
Length 63:52
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Producer Jay-Z (exec.), Damon Dash (exec.), Kareem "Biggs" Burke (exec.), Kanye West, Just Blaze, Timbaland, Bink, Eminem, Trackmasters
Jay-Z chronology
The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
The Blueprint
The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse
Singles from The Blueprint
  1. "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"
    Released: August 21, 2001
  2. "Girls, Girls, Girls"
    Released: October 2, 2001
  3. "Jigga That Nigga"
    Released: January 29, 2002
  4. "Song Cry"
    Released: May 8, 2002

The Blueprint is the sixth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z, released on September 11, 2001, on Roc-A-Fella Records in the United States. Its release was set a week earlier than initially planned in order to combat bootlegging. Recording sessions for the album took place during 2001 at Manhattan Center Studios and Baseline Studios in New York City. Contrasting the radio-friendly sound of Jay-Z's previous work, The Blueprint features soul-based sampling and production handled primarily by Kanye West and Just Blaze.[1]

At the time of the album's recording, Jay-Z was awaiting two criminal trials, one for gun possession and another for assault, and had become one of hip hop's most dissed artists, receiving insults from rappers such as Nas, Prodigy, and Jadakiss.[2][3] The album is also famous for both its producers Kanye West and Just Blaze's breakouts as major producers. Kanye West produced 4 of the 13 tracks on the album, including the song "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and the controversial track which included diss lyrics aimed at rappers Nas and Prodigy, "Takeover" while Just Blaze produced 3 tracks including "Girls, Girls, Girls", "Song Cry", and "U Don't Know", in addition produced the hidden bonus track "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)". Upon its release, The Blueprint received universal acclaim, with critics praising Jay-Z's lyricism and the production. It is considered one of Jay-Z's best albums and has also been labeled as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.


The Blueprint was reportedly cut in two weeks, with Jay-Z allegedly writing the lyrics in two days.[citation needed] At the time, he was awaiting two criminal trials for gun possession and assault. He was also engaged in feuds with various rappers, in particular Nas and Mobb Deep member Prodigy. In the song "Takeover", Jay-Z attacks the two Queensbridge rappers, using a sample of the song "Five to One" by The Doors[4] and an interpolation of David Bowie's "Fame".[5] On The Blueprint, Jay-Z and his producers used vintage soul as inspiration, including a vocal sample on almost every track from such artists as Al Green, Bobby "Blue" Bland, David Ruffin and The Jackson 5. Exceptions include "Jigga That Nigga," "Hola Hovito," and "Renegade," a track produced by and featuring the rapper Eminem, and the only track on the album featuring another rapper on verses.

Commercial success[edit]

In spite of its release coinciding with the 9/11 attacks, The Blueprint sold over 420,000 copies in its opening week,[6] becoming Jay-Z's fourth consecutive album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart. It was certified double platinum as sales stand at over two million units in the U.S.[7][8] Sales as of February 2012 stand at 2.7 million.[9]

Blueprint Lounge Tour[edit]

In late August, Jay-Z announced a September–October tour in small venues.[10] Because of the September 11 attacks occurring on the same day the album was released, the first two performances were rescheduled. Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles were subsequently added, and Jay-Z donated a dollar of the cost of every ticket sold from the tour to relief organizations.

Reception and impact[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 88/100[11]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[12]
Entertainment Weekly B–[13]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[14]
NME 8/10[15]
Pitchfork Media 8.7/10[16]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[2]
The Source 5/5 stars[17]
USA Today 4/4 stars[18]
Vibe 5/5 stars[19]
The Village Voice A–[20]

The Blueprint received rave reviews from critics. It contains a unique and balanced blend of soulful samples that had both street credibility and mainstream appeal, thereby garnering praise from all quarters of the hip hop community and receiving special recognition from critics.[21] Most consider The Blueprint to be one of Jay-Z's best albums, holding it on a level close to that of his debut, Reasonable Doubt. Upon its release, The Blueprint was rated as Vibe Magazine's "Best Album of the year", and even received a 5 mic (out of 5) rating from The Source (a distinction reserved for hip hop classics).[17] Pitchfork Media named it the 2nd best album of 2000-2004. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 88, which indicates "universal acclaim", based on 12 reviews.[22] The popularity and commercial success of the album established Kanye West and Just Blaze as two of hip-hop’s most celebrated producers. Furthermore, The Blueprint signaled a major stylistic shift in hip hop production towards a more Soulcentric and sample-reliant sound, creating a number of imitators who attempted to emulate the album's atmospheric style. Prior to The Blueprint, mainstream hip-hop producers had largely eschewed music sampling in favor of the keyboard-driven Timbaland sound (characterized by a shifting, syncopated rhythm, similar to samba or jungle music), due to the financial and legal issues associated with copyright laws. The Blueprint, however, revived musical sampling as a common practice in hip hop music and dislodged the digital keyboard-driven production style as the dominant sound in hip-hop music.[23] Kanye West would later incorporate some of the production and sampling techniques he used on this album into his own solo albums. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "One of the greatest poets ever to pick up a mic released his magnum opus in 2001. One retirement and one un-retirement later, it's still his finest hour."[24]

The album received a perfect "XXL" rating from XXL magazine,[4] while The Source awarded The Blueprint a classic 5 mic rating.[25] The Blueprint received universal acclaim from music critics, based on an aggregate score of 88/100 from Metacritic.[11] In 2003, the album was ranked number 464 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time;[26] in a revised list in 2012, it was ranked number 252.[27] In 2010, Pitchfork Media ranked it number 5 on their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s list.[28] It is also ranked at number 4 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Best Albums of the 2000s".[29]


Album of the Year
  • Ranked #4 in NME's 50 "Albums Of the Year 2001".
  • Ranked #5 in Rolling Stone's "Top 10 of 2001".
  • Ranked #7 in Spin magazine's "Albums of the Year 2001".
  • Ranked #12 in Wire magazine's "50 Records of the Year 2001".
Best Album of the 2000s
Top Album
Best Album of the Decade
Greatest Album of All Time

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "The Ruler's Back"   Shawn Carter, Roosevelt Harrell, P. Hurtt, B. Sigler Bink 3:50
2. "Takeover"   Carter, Kanye West, L. Parker, A. Lomax, B. Chandler, R. Lemay, J. Morrison, J. Densmore, R. Krieger, R. Manzarek Kanye West 5:13
3. "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"   Carter, West, B. Gordy, A. Mizell, F. Perren, D. Richards Kanye West 4:00
4. "Girls, Girls, Girls"   Carter, Justin Smith, T. Brock, R. Relf Just Blaze 4:35
5. "Jigga That Nigga"   Carter, J.C. Oliver, S. Barnes Trackmasters 3:24
6. "U Don't Know"   Carter, Smith, B. Byrd Just Blaze 3:19
7. "Hola' Hovito"   Carter, Tim Mosley Timbaland 4:33
8. "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)"   Carter, West, M. Price, D. Walsh Kanye West 3:43
9. "Never Change"   Carter, West, B. Miller Kanye West 3:59
10. "Song Cry"   DJ Toomp, D. Gibbs, R. Johnson Just Blaze 5:04
11. "All I Need"   Carter, Harrell Bink 4:27
12. "Renegade" (featuring Eminem) Carter, Marshall Mathers, Ryan Montgomery Eminem 5:38
13. "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)"   Carter, Harrell, A. Green Bink 3:41
Hidden tracks
No. Title Producer(s) Length
14. "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)"   Just Blaze 3:45
15. "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)"   Kanye West 4:14

Bonus tracks[edit]

As with Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter, Jay-Z put two hidden bonus tracks at the end of the final track. "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" is 3:41 by itself. Twenty-five seconds of silence follows after and the bonus track "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)" begins. That song fades and is immediately followed by "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)". It is reported that the latter song features uncredited vocals by Michael Jackson. The final track as a whole is 12:07. On the iTunes Store, however, these bonus tracks are released as separate tracks, thus making the album 15 tracks long. On the vinyl edition, there are no long gaps between the songs, but they are not printed on the back of the album jacket or record label.



Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2001)[36] Peak
Canadian Albums Chart 3
Dutch Albums Chart 51
French Albums Chart 73
German Albums Chart 55
Norwegian Albums Chart 36
Swedish Albums Chart[37] 30
Swiss Albums Chart[38] 59
UK Albums Chart 30
US Billboard 200 1
US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2002) Position
US Billboard 200 52


Year Song Chart positions
Billboard Hot 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles
2001 "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" 8 4 7
"Girls, Girls, Girls" 17 4 9
2002 "Jigga That Nigga" 66 27 7
"Song Cry" - 45 -


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[39] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[40] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[41] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
Toxicity by System of a Down
Billboard 200 number one album
September 29 – October 19, 2001
Succeeded by
Pain Is Love by Ja Rule

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hoard, Christian. "Review: The Blueprint". Rolling Stone: 424–425. November 2, 2004.
  2. ^ a b Strauss, Neil (October 2, 2001). "The Blueprint". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 2, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ Baker, Soren. Review: The Blueprint. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  4. ^ a b XXL (2007). "Retrospective: XXL Albums". XXL Magazine, December 2007 issue. 
  5. ^ Leroy, Dan. Review: The Blueprint. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  6. ^ Johnson, Craig (September 8, 2011). "Why Jay-Z's music still mattered on 9/11". Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ Basham, David (March 29, 2002). Got Charts? Jay-Z & R. Kelly, Cornell & Rage: Dynamic Duos — Well, Maybe Not. MTV. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  8. ^ RIAA Searchable Database. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  9. ^ Grein, Paul (2012-02-29). "Week Ending Feb. 26, 2012. Albums: Half of the Top 10 | Chart Watch (NEW) - Yahoo Music". Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  10. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2001-09-27). "Jay-Z Announces Blueprint Lounge Tour Dates". MTV. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  11. ^ a b "Reviews for The Blueprint by Jay-Z". Metacritic. Retrieved June 17, 2009. 
  12. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "The Blueprint – Jay-Z". AllMusic. Retrieved September 5, 2009. 
  13. ^ Hermes, Will (September 24, 2001). "The Blueprint". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 5, 2009. 
  14. ^ Baker, Soren (September 16, 2001). "A Strong Crop in Fall's First Harvest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 31, 2015. 
  15. ^ Kessler, Ted (October 6, 2001). "Jay-Z: The Blueprint" (Transcription of original review at talk page). NME: 41. Retrieved September 5, 2009. 
  16. ^ P, Ethan (November 6, 2001). "Jay Z: The Blueprint". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Osorio, Kim. "5 Mics: Who Got Next?". The Source. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  18. ^ Jones, Steve (September 25, 2001). "Jay-Z's 'Blueprint' has designs on chart dominance". USA Today. Retrieved September 5, 2009. .
  19. ^ Hampton, Dream (November 2001). "Jay-Z: The Blueprint". Vibe: 145–46. Retrieved September 5, 2009. 
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 12, 2002). "Consumer Guide: 2001 Gets Better". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  21. ^ Rabin, Nathan. Review: The Blueprint. The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  22. ^ "The Blueprint Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  23. ^ Exclaim! Canada's Music Authority
  24. ^ Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "THE 100 Greatest MOVIES, TV SHOWS, ALBUMS, BOOKS, CHARACTERS, SCENES, EPISODES, SONGS, DRESSES, MUSIC VIDEOS, AND TRENDS THAT ENTERTAINED US OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS AND DECADES TO COME". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
  25. ^ The Source's 5 Mic Albums. ListsofBests. Retrieved on 2009-06-17.
  26. ^ RS500: 252 The Blueprint. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-09-15.
  27. ^ [1]. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-09-15.
  28. ^ The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 20-1 Pitchfork Media
  29. ^ a b
  30. ^ "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 20-1". Pitchfork Media. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  31. ^ Critics' 20 Best Albums of the 2000s,
  32. ^ Videos, Teen. "The 50 Best Albums of the Decade (2000-2009) :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste". Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  33. ^ "#4 Jay-Z-The Blueprint" Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the Decade. 9 December 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  34. ^ "#20 Jay-Z-The Blueprint" Rhapsody's 100 Best Albums of the Decade. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  35. ^ "#8 Jay-Z-The Blueprint" The Greatest 50 Albums Since '93. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  36. ^ allmusic ((( The Blueprint > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums ))). Allmusic. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  37. ^ Cite error: The named reference SWE was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  38. ^ Cite error: The named reference SWI was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  39. ^ "Canadian album certifications – JAY Z – The Blueprint". Music Canada. 
  40. ^ "British album certifications – JAY Z – The Blueprint". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter The Blueprint in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  41. ^ "American album certifications – JAY Z – The Blueprint". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]