Apple Music 100 Best Albums

This is an image of the album cover for “@@album_name@@” by @@artist_name@@.

The Blueprint



In 2001, he was on top—but he still had a chip on his shoulder.

Just a few years earlier, JAY-Z couldn’t find a label. Now, he not only had the culture on his shoulders—he was helping to legitimize it for an audience that still might’ve written him off as a fad. Released on September 11, 2001, The Blueprint arrived as a classic. It’s brutal (“Takeover”), arrogant (“Girls, Girls, Girls”), playful (“Izzo [H.O.V.A.]”), and disarmingly vulnerable (“Song Cry”). With the exception of LL Cool J, the culture didn’t really have examples of second lives.

But The Blueprint pushed the lyrical parameters of mainstream hip-hop while returning to the form’s origins, thanks to the album’s samples of classic rock and soul (courtesy, in part, of a young producer named Kanye West). The result was a record that would help establish rap as music with historic continuity.

“It is very educational for all the young hustlers.”

Playboi Carti

Reasonable Doubt, classic/Shoulda went triple,” Jay raps on “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)”: a callback to his first album, but also a reminder that he hasn’t lived it down. Can you be on top and still carry a chip on your shoulder? On The Blueprint, Jay has it all—and still wants more.