With your review of Jay-Z’s Blueprint2 (“Pimp and Circumstance,” 11/22), you once again indicate that your publication needs to hire new writers if you ever intend to properly review hiphop music. The review is filled with a litany of laughable mistakes.
First, the writer includes “the Roc” among a list of Jay-Z’s nicknames, when in fact “the Roc” is merely another way of referring to Jay-Z’s label, Roc-A-Fella Records (a fact that would be clear to anyone who listened to Blueprint2 more than once…or even listened once and used common sense). Next, the reviewer describes “Meet the Parents” as a song about a murder and its effects on the parents of the villain and the victim. Clearly, the reviewer either speaks English as a second language or never listened to that song. “Meet the Parents” is a story about a father who is estranged from his son for so long that when he meets his son again in an open-air drug market, he doesn’t recognize him and tragically kills the son in a drug-related conflict. So, you see, no sensible person would describe the song’s subject matter as “a murder and its effects on the parents of the villain and the victim,” because the “villain” was the father of the “victim”; the parents of the “villain” are never mentioned in the story at all, nor is there any sincere attempt to paint the father as a “villain” in the song.
To worsen matters, the reviewer spends almost a third of the review discussing the first Blueprint album and spends entirely too much time talking about Jay-Z’s personal and business affairs. (Who cares who he’s dating or what liquor company Jay-Z bought? This is a record review!) When the reviewer does focus on the musical aspects of the songs (such as his description of “Hovi Baby” as prog-rock-influenced), the review is going someplace. But discussion of the actual music is a relatively small part of an otherwise winding, meaningless review.
Another example of poor reviewing is when the reviewer decides to describe two lines from “Hovi Baby” as directed at Nas (when the intended target of the quoted lines is ambiguous), then seemingly overlooks that the title track, “Blueprint2,” is an entire song directed at Nas. Instead, the reviewer only discusses the Austin Powers-inspired hook. If the reviewer was listening for barbs aimed at Nas, he “found” them in the wrong song.
This double-disc set contained 25 tracks, and the reviewer only seriously dealt with 10 of them, while giving cursory mention to three other songs in a single overlong sentence that totally lacks analysis. That leaves 12 songs on the double-disc set undiscussed.
Next time, your reviewer should cut out the extraneous discussion of prior musical work and focus on the work being reviewed. In fact, you should actually try to find reviewers who can competently dissect a hiphop album over the course of an entire review.
This review was essentially 1,500 words of reviewing the actual discs and 8,500 words of editorial commentary on Jay-Z as a person and pop phenomenon. That is unforgivable.
The Washington City Paper needs new blood in its reviews section, period.