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Jay-Z: 'American Gangster'
'You leave ‘American Gangster’ longing for more don’t-give-a-fuck attitude'
Alas, where ‘Kingdom Come’ was a success, if a slightly bloated one, ‘American Gangster’ is a stumble. Beneath the bluster, it feels Jay-Z is short of material, and some of the beats here – mostly courtesy of P Diddy’s producers The Hitmen – are real misjudgements: ‘Hello Brooklyn’ is an aborted attempt at a Dirty South club track that Jay-Z handles like a yuppie might handle New Orleans swampland, while ‘Party Life’ is mere sluggish ’70s soul.
Of course, there’s gold too: witness ‘Success’. Six years back, Jay-Z and fellow NYC rapper Nas were at each other’s throats. Now they’re back-to-back on a killer track, all slabs of gorgonzola mellotron atop of which the pair swear off money, cars, and fancy restaurants with genuinely pissed-off verses that burn like a fireplace full of dollars. You leave ‘American Gangster’ longing for more of this don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, but the feeling that presides is Jay-Z patting his wallet. He repeatedly tells us he’s not comparable to other rappers, but something more: a business, an industry. Better make sure he’s still got stuff worth selling, then.
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