Album: Volume 3: The Life & Times Of S.Carter (UK)
Label: Def Jam
Rating: 6 / 10
While Jay-Z’s last two albums didn’t meet the quality of his first effort “Reasonable Doubt”, they did seem to appeal to a wide variety of people. With the clever use of the “Annie” sample he made his ‘Hard Knock Life’ single a worldwide anthem, reachin’ the charts in every corner of this planet. Well, “Vol. 3…” will probably satisfy the mainstream audience, while it will upset everyone that breaths, eats, shits, hell, just lives hip hop.
The album starts with a nice intro where Jay-Z claims to be “the shit even when he rhymes in third person” and then continues with probably the ‘hardest’ track on the album, ‘So Ghetto’ on which Jay rhymes over some nice production laid down by the most consistent producer in hip hop, DJ Premier. After that the problems start with the appearance of that girl Amil, who basically fucks up three tracks.
First she ruins ‘Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)’ with one of the weakest verses in hip hop history, then she manages to do a bad job on the already weak ‘S. Carter’ and finally she may thank Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Jayhova that they save ‘Pop 4 Roc’ after her ridiculous first verse. Well, it even gets worse… Jay-Z tries to please all parts of the country with some weak changes in style. On the Timbaland produced ‘Big Pimpin’ he collaborates with U.G.K. and together they deliver the worst track of the album, I won’t even comment on this one! Cash Money fans will be happy to hear that their man Juvenile appears on ‘Snoopy Track’, unfortunately for them he only does the chorus on this mediocre track (again produced by Timbaland!).
On another Timbaland track titled ‘Is That Yo Bitch’, he combines forces with Missy Elliot and Twista to deliver another wack joint that he should’ve kept to himself. All tracks lack originality, nice concepts and lyrical substance and obviously Timbaland has lost his golden touch. Luckily for him he did provide Jayhova with something a little more interesting… the minimalistic beat on ‘Its Hot (Some Like It Hot)’ actually adds to Jay’s nice flow and makes it a nice track worthy to listen to. Check out Jayhova’s little diss to 50 Cent “Go against Jigga your ass is dense / I’m about a dollar what the fuck is 50 cents?” – this all in return for 50 Cents diss on ‘How To Rob…’
Other notable tracks on the album are ‘Dope Man’ (“They call me dope man, dope man / I try to tell them I’m what hope floats man / A ghetto spokesman”) and ‘NYMP’ on which he tells about the hood he grew up in. Two other tracks I’m feelin’ have that mainstream appeal which undoubtly will make them chart-toppers… ‘Things That U Do’ features Jay-Z rhymin’ over a lovely Swizz Beats production with Mariah Carey doin’ the hook and on the Sam Sneed laced ‘Anything’ they again use the trick that made ‘Hard Knock Life’ the hit it eventually was, this time usin’ a sample from the “Oliver Twist” motion picture. While Jay-Z has the ability to flow and keep your attention, the album has too many flaws and obviously lacks the consistency of his debut album. I’m sure it will still sell well though.