The Blueprint

The Blueprint is the sixth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z, released on September 11, 2001, through Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings. Its release was set a week earlier than initially planned in order to combat bootlegging. Recording sessions for the album took place during 2001 at Manhattan Center Studios and Baseline Studios in New York City. Contrasting the radio-friendly sound of Jay-Z's previous work, The Blueprint features soul-based sampling and production handled primarily by Kanye West, Just Blaze, and Bink, as well as Timbaland, Trackmasters, and Eminem, who also contributes the album's sole guest feature.

The Blueprint
Jay-Z sitting on top of a table smoking a cigar while wearing glasses and a jacket reading "Rocawear" at the back. On the table, an ashtray a pack of cigars, microphone, and other items. Out-of-background, people are seen, with the shoes only viewable.
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 11, 2001 (2001-09-11)
RecordedMay–July 2001
StudioBaseline Studios (New York City)
Jay-Z chronology
The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
The Blueprint
Jay-Z Unplugged
Singles from The Blueprint
  1. "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"
    Released: July 28, 2001
  2. "Girls, Girls, Girls"
    Released: October 2, 2001
  3. "Jigga That Nigga"
    Released: January 29, 2002
  4. "Song Cry"
    Released: April 16, 2002[1]

At the time of the album's recording, Jay-Z was awaiting two criminal trials, one for gun possession and another for assault, and had become one of hip hop's most dissed artists, receiving insults from rappers such as Nas, Prodigy, and Jadakiss.[2][3] The album is also famous for both its producers Kanye West and Just Blaze's breakouts as major producers. West produced four of the thirteen tracks on the album, including the songs "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and the controversial "Takeover", which included diss lyrics aimed at rappers Nas and Prodigy, while Just Blaze produced three tracks, "Girls, Girls, Girls", "Song Cry", and "U Don't Know", also including the hidden bonus track "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)".

The Blueprint received universal acclaim from music critics, with praise being directed at Jay-Z's lyricism and the production. It is considered one of his best albums and has also been labeled as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Despite its release coinciding with the September 11 attacks, it sold over 427,000 copies in its opening week and debuted at number one in the US, holding the spot for three weeks. It was later certified 2x Multi-Platinum by the RIAA. In 2019, the album was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," being the first entry created in the 21st century.[4]


The Blueprint was reportedly cut in two weeks, with Jay-Z recording nine songs in two days.[5] At the time, he was awaiting two criminal trials for gun possession and assault. He was also engaged in feuds with various rappers such as Jadakiss, Fat Joe and in particular Nas and Mobb Deep member Prodigy. In the song "Takeover", Jay-Z attacks the two Queensbridge rappers, using a sample of the song "Five to One" by The Doors[6] and an interpolation of David Bowie's "Fame".[7] On The Blueprint, Jay-Z and his producers used vintage soul as inspiration, including a vocal sample on almost every track from such artists as Al Green, Bobby "Blue" Bland, David Ruffin and The Jackson 5. Exceptions include "Jigga That Nigga", "Hola Hovito", and "Renegade", a track produced by and featuring the rapper Eminem, and the only track on the album featuring another rapper on verses.

Blueprint Lounge TourEdit

In late August, Jay-Z announced a September–October tour in small venues.[8] Because of the September 11 attacks occurring on the same day the album was released, the first two performances were rescheduled. Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles were subsequently added, and Jay-Z donated to relief organizations one dollar of the cost of each ticket sold for the tour.


The photograph on the album's cover, taken by Jonathan Mannion, was inspired by one from The Firm, a series by Jocelyn Bain Hogg depicting organized crime in Britain. Instead of the telephone and brass knuckles seen next to the ashtray in the original picture, a cigar, a pack of cigars and a microphone were placed.[9]

Reception and impactEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [11]
Blender     [12]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[13]
Los Angeles Times    [14]
NME     [15]
Rolling Stone     [2]
Uncut     [17]
USA Today    [18]
The Village VoiceA−[19]

The Blueprint received rave reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 88, which indicates "universal acclaim", based on 12 reviews.[10] Upon its release, The Blueprint was hailed by Vibe's dream hampton as Jay-Z's best album, as well as the best album of the year,[20] while The Source awarded The Blueprint a perfect "five-mic" rating,[21] a distinction reserved for hip hop classics.[22] Nathan Rabin called it Jay-Z's "strongest, tightest, most consistent album since his legendary debut, 1996's Reasonable Doubt."[23]

The Blueprint established Kanye West and Just Blaze as major hip hop producers.

The popularity and commercial success of The Blueprint established Kanye West and Just Blaze as two of hip hop's most celebrated producers. West in particular would later be signed by Roc-A-Fella Records in 2002. Both West and Just Blaze would go on to have successful music careers. Furthermore, The Blueprint signaled a major stylistic shift in hip hop production towards a more Soulcentric and sample-reliant sound, creating a number of imitators who attempted to emulate the album's atmospheric style. Prior to The Blueprint, mainstream hip-hop producers had largely eschewed music sampling in favor of the keyboard-driven Timbaland sound (characterized by a shifting, syncopated rhythm, similar to samba or jungle music), due to the financial and legal issues associated with copyright laws.

The Blueprint, however, revived musical sampling as a common practice in hip hop music and dislodged the digital keyboard-driven production style as the dominant sound in hip-hop music.[24] West would later incorporate some of the production and sampling techniques he used on this album into his own solo albums. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "One of the greatest poets ever to pick up a mic released his magnum opus in 2001. One retirement and one un-retirement later, it's still his finest hour."[25]

In 2003, The Blueprint was ranked number 464 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time;[26] in a revised list in 2012, it was ranked number 252;[27] in the 2020 revised list, the album was ranked number 50.[28] Pitchfork named The Blueprint the second best album of 2000–2004, and in 2010, it ranked fifth on their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s list.[29] It is ranked at number 4 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Best Albums of the 2000s".[30] The album received a perfect "XXL" rating from XXL magazine in a 2007 retrospective article.[6] The Blueprint was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[31]


Album of the Year

Best Album of the 2000s

  • Ranked #1 in Complex Magazine's "The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s".
  • Ranked #7 in The Stylus Decade's "Top 100 Albums of the 2000s".
  • Ranked #4 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of "100 Best Albums of the 2000s"[30]
  • Ranked #5 in Pitchfork's "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s".[33]

Top Album

  • Ranked #6 in Billboard's Critics Pick of the decade 1999-2009[34]
  • Ranked #2 in Pitchfork's "The Top 100 Albums of 2000-04".
  • Ranked #5 in Stylus Magazine's "Top 50 Albums of 2000-2005".

Best Album of the Decade

  • Ranked #2 in Entertainment Weekly's Best Albums of the Decade.
  • Ranked #42 in Paste's 50 Best Albums of the Decade.[35]
  • Ranked #4 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Best Albums of the Decade in 2009.[36]
  • Ranked #20 in Rhapsody's "100 Best Albums of the Decade" in 2009.[37]
  • Ranked #8 in Vibe's "The Greatest 50 Albums Since '93" in 2013.[38]

Greatest Album of All Time

Commercial performanceEdit

In spite of its release coinciding with the 9/11 attacks, The Blueprint sold over 427,000 copies in its opening week,[39] becoming Jay-Z's fourth consecutive album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart. It was certified double platinum as sales stand at over two million units in the U.S.[40][41] Sales stand at 2.7 million as of February 2012.[42]

Track listingEdit

1."The Ruler's Back"Bink3:50
2."Takeover"Kanye West5:13
3."Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"Kanye West4:00
4."Girls, Girls, Girls"
Just Blaze4:35
5."Jigga That Nigga"Trackmasters3:24
6."U Don't Know"
Just Blaze3:19
7."Hola' Hovito"Timbaland4:33
8."Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)"
  • Carter
  • West
  • Michael Price
  • Dan Walsh
Kanye West3:43
9."Never Change"
  • Carter
  • West
  • Robert Eugene Miller
Kanye West3:59
10."Song Cry"
Just Blaze5:04
11."All I Need"
  • Carter
  • Harrell
  • Michael D. Monroe
12."Renegade" (featuring Eminem)5:38
13."Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)"
Hidden tracks
14."Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)"
  • Carter
  • Smith
  • Tyrone Thomas
  • August Moon
  • Gerald Brown
  • Stanley Clarke
  • Michael Garson
  • Raymond Gomez
Just Blaze3:45
15."Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)"
  • Carter
  • Smith
  • Robert Poindexter
  • Jackie Members
Kanye West4:14


  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer
  • "Takeover" features additional vocals by Josey Scott.
  • "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" features uncredited vocals by Demme Uloa.
  • "Girls, Girls, Girls" features additional vocals by Q-Tip, Slick Rick and Biz Markie.
  • "Jigga That Nigga" features additional vocals by Stephanie Miller and Michelle Mills.
  • "Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love)" features uncredited vocals by Keon Bryce.
  • "Never Change" features uncredited vocals by Kanye West.
  • "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" features background vocals by Schevise Harrell and Luren Leek.
  • "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)" features uncredited vocals by Michael Jackson.


  • "The Ruler's Back" contains a sample of "If" performed by Jackie Moore, and an interpolation of "The Ruler's Back" performed by Slick Rick.
  • "Takeover" contains samples of "Five to One" performed by The Doors, "Sound of da Police" performed by KRS-One, and an interpolation of "Fame" performed by David Bowie.
  • "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" contains a sample of "I Want You Back" performed by Jackson 5.
  • "Girls, Girls, Girls" contains a sample of "There's Nothing in This World That Can Stop Me from Loving You" performed by Tom Brock, and "High Power Rap" performed by Crash Crew.
  • "U Don't Know" contains a sample of "I'm Not to Blame" performed by Bobby Byrd.
  • "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" contains a sample of "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" performed by Bobby Blue Bland.
  • "Never Change" contains a sample of "Common Man" performed by David Ruffin.
  • "Song Cry" contains a sample of "Sounds Like a Love Song" performed by Bobby Glenn.
  • "All I Need" contains a sample of "I Can't Break Away" performed by Natalie Cole.
  • "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" contains a sample of "Free at Last" performed by Al Green.
  • "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)" contains a sample of "Got to Find My Own Place" performed by Stanley Clarke.
  • "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)" contains a sample of "Trying Girls Out" performed by The Persuaders.

Bonus tracksEdit

As with Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter, Jay-Z put two hidden bonus tracks at the end of the final track. "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)" is 3:41 by itself. Twenty-five seconds of silence follows after and the bonus track "Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)" begins. That song fades and is immediately followed by "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)". It is reported[by whom?] that the latter song features uncredited vocals by Michael Jackson. The final track as a whole is 12:07. On the iTunes Store, however, these bonus tracks are released as separate tracks, thus making the album 15 tracks long. On the vinyl edition, there are no long gaps between the songs, but they are not printed on the back of the album jacket or record label.




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[64] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[66] Gold 212,000[65]
United States (RIAA)[67] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See alsoEdit


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  2. ^ a b Strauss, Neil (October 2, 2001). "Jay-Z: The Blueprint". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 5, 2006. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  3. ^ Baker, Soren. Review: The Blueprint. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  4. ^ Andrews, Travis M. (March 20, 2019). "Jay-Z, a speech by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and 'Schoolhouse Rock!' among recordings deemed classics by Library of Congress". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Jay-Z & Linkin Park (2004). Collision Course DVD. I mean, when I made Blueprint, the album, I did nine songs in, in uh... in two days. It was pretty much to add, it was pretty much to record, like, just done, it was done.
  6. ^ a b "Retrospective: XXL Albums". XXL. December 2007.
  7. ^ Leroy, Dan. Review: The Blueprint. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  8. ^ Reid, Shaheem (September 27, 2001). "Jay-Z Announces Blueprint Lounge Tour Dates". MTV. Retrieved September 28, 2009.
  9. ^ Fu, Eddie (September 11, 2019). "Knowledge Drop: Here's The Photo That Inspired JAY-Z's 'The Blueprint' Cover Art". Genius. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Reviews for The Blueprint by Jay-Z". Metacritic. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  11. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "The Blueprint – Jay-Z". AllMusic. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  12. ^ Pappademas, Alex. "Jay-Z: The Blueprint". Blender. Archived from the original on August 13, 2004. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  13. ^ Hermes, Will (September 24, 2001). "The Blueprint". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  14. ^ Baker, Soren (September 16, 2001). "JAY-Z 'The Blueprint' Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  15. ^ Kessler, Ted (October 6, 2001). "Jay-Z: The Blueprint". NME: 41. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  16. ^ P., Ethan (November 6, 2001). "Jay-Z: The Blueprint". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  17. ^ "Jay-Z: The Blueprint". Uncut (55): 108. December 2001.
  18. ^ Jones, Steve (September 25, 2001). "Jay-Z's 'Blueprint' has designs on chart dominance". USA Today. McLean. Retrieved September 5, 2009.[dead link]
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  30. ^ a b Rollingstone
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  66. ^ "British album certifications – JAY Z – The Blueprint". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type The Blueprint in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
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External linksEdit