December 28, 2021

Jay-Z "Vol.3: Life and Times of S.Carter" (Dec. 28, 1999)

In the fall of 1999, Def Jam posted a billboard atop the intersection of Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in downtown Brooklyn to advertise Jay-Z’s new album. Fittingly, the blown-up cover image for Vol. 3 … Life and Times of S. Carter depicted the rapper flanked by skyscrapers, peering downward. (Hov always did love a good metaphor.) He was now above the competition—in his home borough, in New York City, and in hip-hop. By the time Vol. 3 dropped in late December, Jay-Z was rap’s undisputed ruler. Vol. 3 went no. 1, as did all nine of his subsequent solo releases. Beyond his transcendent skill, Jay’s nimbleness and ambition would become the hallmarks of a long-running monarchy. He hewed his sound to adapt to radio trends and collaborated with the right people at the right time. And he was ruthlessly competitive, on and off the mic, which only added to his longevity. While Vol. 3 isn’t regarded as Jay’s best album—that accolade is reserved for his debut or 2001’s The Blueprint—it does have a wide-ranging aesthetic that reveals the expansive kingdom that Jay-Z oversaw when he first assumed power. The South was rising. Dr. Dre returned. New disrupters were en route. And hip-hop in general was on the verge of going fully mainstream. Jay observed the terrain and adapted accordingly. From his very first words on the album—Yeah, I know you just ripped the packaging off your CD—to the bootlegged songs that were left off the final cut, Vol. 3 provides a perfect time capsule of rap as it headed into the new millennium. - The Ringer. Revisit the LP below.

The album's (Canadian) one-sheet boasts "sales points" and "facts" as: Vol.3: Life and Times of S.Carter is his highly anticipated fourth release with his charismatic dazzling lyrical acrobatics, stunning verbal versatility and fierce, driving beats. Album includes 2 hidden tracks: "Jigga My N!gga" and "Girls Best Friend" (from the Blue Streak soundtrack). Guest artists include Mariah Carey, Juvenile, UGK, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Amil, as well as production from Swizz Beats, Timbaland, Big Jaz and "a few newcomers", failing to specifically mention DJ Premier, Rockwilder, DJ Clue, Duro, and Irv Gotti. Definitely not my favorite Jay-Z album... but it absolutely did have joints: "So Ghetto", "Do It Again", "Things U Do", "Big Pimpin'", "Anything" and the 2 hidden tracks, of course.