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Jay Z's sixth studio album, The Blueprint, released inauspiciously on September 11th 2001, marked a move towards more soul-based sampling, largely thanks to the then unknown producer Kanye West. The Blueprint sent Jay-Z's already bright star into orbit. Acclaimed by critics as a work of genius, the Blueprint convinced the public too, becoming the rapper's fourth album to top the US charts and scoring triple platinum sales in the States alone. This explicit version is The Blueprint as Jay-Z laid it down.
The Blueprint was stripped of many of the proteges and additional artists that were the height of hip-hop style at that time, with Eminem the only guest rapper (on 'Renegade'). Instead, on The Blueprint Jay-Z proved he could hold his own without a little help from his friends, mixing things up with tracks like the Jackson 5-sampling 'Izzo (H.O.V.A)' and the over-sexed 'Girls, Girls, Girls' with the weepy 'Song Cry' and the Nas-dissing 'Takeover'. Reportedly penned in an astonishing two days, it's a fact that The Blueprint changed the face of hip-hop, adding a new dimension to the possibilities offered by samples, and launching the stratospheric career of Kanye West.