Thanks to his rival Tidal streaming service, Jay-Z was somewhat M.I.A. from Apple Music for a while.
Somewhere along the line, the tide started to turn. Jay’s 4:44 album landed on Apple Music. As did Everything is Love, his collaboration with wife Beyonce. Now the Blueprint trilogy — home to what is probably Jay-Z’s greatest album — has arrived on Apple’s streaming service.
Jay-Z pulled the album trilogy from competing platforms like Spotify, Google Play, Rhapsody, Amazon, and Apple Music to give Tidal another exclusive. What caused him to change his mind isn’t clear. However, it probably has a whole lot to do with Tidal’s ongoing problems — and the chance to make a whole heap of cash bringing the Blueprint albums to Apple Music.
The Blueprint trilogy
The trilogy consists of 2001’s excellent Blueprint, 2002’s Blueprint 2, and 2009’s Blueprint 3. Of these, the first album is an undisputed classic, home to some of the best tracks in Jay’s career. It introduced the world to the beat-making abilities of Kanye West, and is filled with brilliant tracks. The second and third albums aren’t a patch on the original, but still have plenty to recommend them.
The second is bloated and overlong, and has altogether less to say, but still contains moments of brilliance. (“Meet the Parents” may be the most underrated song of Jay’s career.) The third album, coming after Jay-Z’s career break (he claimed to be retired, but then didn’t), is similar. It’s got some great stuff, but also a fair amount of filler.
Ultimately, it’s great to see more of Jay-Z’s catalog available on Apple Music. With the exception of Reasonable Doubt, his acclaimed 1996 debut, all of his albums are now available on Apple Music. Given that the service is so focused on hip-hop (as seen by Beats-1 and the plethora of Apple Music documentaries), that’s great news.