Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 3” Turns 14

Throughout his career, Jay-Z has released a truly impressive number of classic albums. His discography is riddled with iconic music, and one of his most lauded works, The Blueprint 3, turned 14 this year. For years, Hov has been widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers Hip Hop has ever witnessed. As a matter of fact, Billboard outrightly named him the greatest rapper of all time. 

He is a legendary figure in Hip Hop, and his impact on the music scene can not be overstated. With a career spanning over three decades and 13 solo studio albums, Jay-Z has made an indispensable name for himself, not just in Hip Hop but music at large. The Blueprint 3 is an influential masterpiece that further helped solidify his reputation as a music icon. Similarly, it has had a lasting impact on pop culture and remains a key work in Hip Hop’s canon.

The Blueprint 3

FRESNO, CA – NOVEMBER 7: Rapper Jay-Z performs in support of his The Blueprint 3 release at the Save Mart Center at Fresno State University on November 7, 2009 in Fresno, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

The Blueprint 3 was released on September 8, 2009, as the 11th studio album by Jay-Z. Although it came at a time when Jay-Z was already a highly respected figure in Hip Hop, the album further reassured audiences about his status as one of the greats. Moreover, it has since had a significant impact on his career. The Blueprint 3 is the third installment in the Blueprint album series. It follows The Blueprint (2001) and The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse (2002). By the time the album dropped, however, it had been seven years since the second installment was released. While Jay-Z had dropped five albums and two mixtapes in between, fans hoped for a third Blueprint installment, and he finally delivered it in 2009.

Production & Musical Style

The album features a diverse range of producers, including Kanye West, Timbaland, The Neptunes, and Swizz Beatz. This blend of bright talents contributed to the album’s rich and varied sound. The Blueprint 3 showcased Jay-Z’s ability to adapt to the ever-changing musical landscapes. It incorporated elements of rap, pop, and electronic music, reflecting the evolving Hip Hop scene. Furthermore, the MC’s lyrical prowess was fully displayed on the album. With succinct verses, he addressed various themes ranging from his successful rise to the state of Hip Hop at the time.

Collaborations & Hit Singles

Jay-Z collaborated with several artists on this album, highlighting his ability to work with different talents while maintaining his artistic vision. Five of the album’s six singles were collaborations, and four of those went on to become major hits. Those four songs are some of the strongest on the 15-track album, and all achieved significant chart success. Those singles are: “Empire State of Mind” ft. Alicia Keys, “Run This Town” ft. Rihanna and Kanye West, “On to the Next One” ft. Swizz Beatz, and “Young Forever” ft. Mr. Hudson.

Commercial Success & Critical Acclaim

The Blueprint 3 debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been certified 3x Platinum by RIAA. The album’s first five singles all performed well on the Hot 100 chart, with “Empire State of Mind” topping it for five consecutive weeks. The song also became the first rap song to top the charts in the 2010s decade. The Blueprint 3 was Jay-Z’s 11th Billboard 200 No. 1 album and was received positively by critics and fans alike. The album subsequently picked up a total of six Grammys. 

Cultural Impact & Legacy

Songs like “Empire State of Mind” and “Run This Town” have since become cultural touchstones. “Empire State of Mind” is particularly widely appreciated for its celebration of New York City. In its 14 years, The Blueprint 3 has had a lasting impact on Hip Hop and will continue to do so. It is a revered body of work that will be relevant in pop culture and referenced in Hip Hop for generations to come.