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The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo Courtesy of Heather Maurer
4Reels club to host 24-Hour Film Challenge
Amelia Kashian April 18, 2024

Jay-Z’s latest less than a stellar album

Featuring both established stars like Young Jeezy and Rihanna, and up-and-comers like Drake and Kid Cudi, many expected “The Blueprint 3” to be another triumph in Jay-Z’s long line of hits. Instead, while not without a sterile kind of efficacy, the third installment in Jay-Z’s trilogy lacks the edge and verve that has defined his best material to date.

On the plus side, “Run This Town” is an unquestionable success. Jay-Z brings in the heavyweights, with Rihanna anchoring the chorus and Kanye West dropping in to play Robin to Jay-Z’s Batman again. Elsewhere, Kanye is largely competent in helming the production on seven of the album’s fifteen tracks. Still, he’s overeager to throw a synth on everything and proves the alleged death of autotune was (unfortunately) largely exaggerated.

Kanye must also shoulder much of the blame for “Hate,” a stumbling, autotune-ridden embarrassment which is equal parts botched production and maybe the worst flow Kanye has ever put on record. “Venus vs. Mars” exists only as a vapid, insubstantial take on the guys versus girls paradigm – “99 Problems” it’s not. “On to the Next One” is a stunning display of bad judgment, making the first five seconds as annoying as possible and then repeating it ad naseum by making it the hook.

Meanwhile, “Empire State of Mind” brings Alicia Keys on board for another shot at a crossover hit. The rap-song-as-ode-to-hometown is one of hip-hop’s most well-worn tropes, and “Empire State” is a slightly above average addition to the canon. Dutifully name-checking an endless list of New York landmarks famous and otherwise, Jay-Z positions himself as a modern-day Sinatra; but the hook leaves something to be desired. On the whole it’s kind of wash, like much of the material here.

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Jay-Z still has too much talent to make a bad album, and at times “The Blueprint 3” offers more proof that he can be one of the best in the game today. Yet the chip on his shoulder routine feels more obligatory than authentic; in its place is the sort of contentment one finds from finally reaching the top. It’s a shame that the cost of that success appears to be the dynamism that got him there in the first place.

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