The Blueprint²: The Gift & The Curse is the seventh studio album by American rapperJay-Z. It was released on November 12, 2002, by Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. 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). Unlike this project than his other four previous albums, it debuted at number one, shipping with first-week sales of 545,000 units. As of February 2012, the album has sold 2,117,000 units in the United States.
The three-month 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 - Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (also known as The Neptunes), and Timbaland, while other producers includes No I.D., Darrell "Digga" Branch, Charlemagne, Big Chuck, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Kendrick, Heavy D, and Ron Fennster. 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 Nas-diss "Blueprint2", and the bravado "Nigga Please".
The album received positive reviews from critics. Critics applauded the album for its production—mostly aimed at Kanye West, Just Blaze, and The Neptunes—as well as lyricism from Jay-Z and blend of mainstream rap music and dark street rap while critics criticized the amount of tracks, plus the large amount of guest artists and pop-oriented sound.