The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse

The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse

The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse opens with an imagined conversation between JAY-Z and The Notorious B.I.G. Call it a gesture toward continuity: Even after all his major milestones, Jay still wonders what Biggie might think of his life and times—and still wants to remind his audience that, pop or not, a plant without its roots is bound to die. Not that you could fairly compare each artist’s achievements by the time The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse arrived in 2002. Yes, Biggie had helped introduce street rap to the mainstream. But he hadn’t lived long enough to come back to the music’s raw rudiments, as Jay had on 2001’s smash The Blueprint. And now, with The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse, Jay was looking to push rap even further, with an ambitious two-disc, 25-track album that finds him flexing his many skill sets. As a result, The Gift & the Curse has something for every Jay fan. He can still be futuristic (as on Just Blaze’s “Hovi Baby” and The Neptunes-produced “N***a Please”). But he can also steady himself for something as crossover as “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”—his first on-the-record hookup with Beyoncé—or as nasty as the M.O.P.-featuring “U Don’t Know.” And while the bombast of a track like “I Did It My Way” is expected, there are subtle moments on The Gift & the Curse as well, like “Meet the Parents.” By the early 2000s, audiences were still getting used to the idea of rappers having first lives; with The Blueprint 2, JAY-Z was already starting his second.

Disc 1

Disc 2

Audio Extras

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