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Reviews are pouring in for Jay-Z's "American Gangster" and they are very, very positive. Diddy and The Hitmen (LV, Sean C. and Mario Winans) created the album's sound, producing 6 tracks. Here's a sampling of reviews.

Boston Globe:

One of the main pluses of "American Gangster" is it gets Diddy off the party circuit and back into the studio doing what actually made him famous. As a producer, Diddy's feel for '70s soul is impeccable, and the choogling congas, deep bass, and smoky blaxploitation atmospheres are a boon to tracks like "American Dreamin' " where a lone male falsetto hollers about the inner-city blues, Marvin Gaye-style.

The Daily Orange:

Purist fans of Jay-Z are going to celebrate his latest effort for its sharp lyricism and gritty portrayal of the drug underworld, a pronounced move away from last year's "Kingdom Come." Those looking for Jay-Z lyrics idolizing commercialism will not find them here.


"American Gangster" is bold, both in concept and in execution, with Jay-Z telling the story of a Brooklyn teen getting into the drug trade and then getting stuck in it. Jay does it in character, as if it were a series of monologues crafted into a one-man play. However, it is no one-man effort, as the musical backdrops - many crafted by Diddy and the Bad Boy Entertainment's production team The Hitmen, as well as Pharrell Williams, Jermaine Dupri, Kanye West and Just Blaze - are often just as remarkable.

Grade: A


While not officially linked to Ridley Scott's film, Jay-Z's bracing American Gangster concept album (* * * Ĺ out of four) draws its narrative from key scenes and revisits the rapper's hardscrabble origins and the dope-slinging lifestyle that he has been documenting since 1996's Reasonable Doubt.

With the unbearable, Lilí Wayne assisted ďHello Brooklyn 2.0,Ē which ruins the albumís pacing, as the only flagrant misstep, American Gangster remains triumphant. There is no definitive radio smash hit present but thatís what keeps the project fresh. Jay goes from running the block to cornering the market without forcing the issue, leaving no need to question his G file.

9 stars out of 10.

Scott's Gangster follows the ascension of Frank Lucas, a notorious '70s heroin kingpin played by Denzel Washington. While Jay-Z does not make the ambitious leap of trying to write from Lucas' point of view, he does use the film's story and period vibe to color his own elaborate legend. On ''American Dreamin','' a Marvin Gaye sample provides the backdrop as Jay-Z wistfully recounts his early days as a wannabe dealer, scheming with his buddies. ''We need it now,'' he raps over the (slightly too) drippingly soulful Diddy-produced track, ''We need a town/We need a place to pitch/We need a mound.'' Nobody flips a drug-trafficking metaphor better. The more celebratory but less garish ''Party Life'' is another old-school contribution from Diddy, with Jay channeling slick '70s icons like Goldie and Superfly over a slow groove and silky guitar licks. ''So tall and lanky,'' he boasts in no hurry, ''my suit, it should thank me.''


American Gangster starts with Pray, a cinematic flashback that recounts Jayís lost childhood innocence. The beat pulses with a deadly seriousness as Jay rhymes ďeverything Iíve seen made me everything I am/bad drug dealer or I victim I beg/what came first moving chickens or the egg?Ē If this album was a movie, Pray would be the creation of Hova, the birth of the best rapper/businessman hybrid hip-hopís ever seen. Moving on with the cinematic metaphor, the next scene would be Sweet, a track that has Jay swimming in the rewards of his success. As good as Jayís flow is throughout the album, and itís extraordinary, Sweet shows the production is equally clutch. Diddyís production team The Hitmen (LV, Sean C and Mario Winans) take soul and funk samples from the likes of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield to create a cohesive musical thesis so 70ís even Iím inspired to grow an afro. Listening to Sweet is like watching the original Shaft, only instead of Isaac Hayes we get intimidatingly powerful rhymes from Jay-Z.

4.5 Spins (out of 5)

... Ever the master of malicious coke raps with murmurs of lamentation and humanity, Jay makes it all go down sweeter with flows befitting of his reputation. Even though he rarely makes reference to himself as a rapper Ė largely sticking to character Ė his enduring brilliance is on display as much as it ever was without needing his insistence of it. Where this ranks amongst Jayís catalogue will be determined as time passes. It certainly isnít perfect, but it has a quality that should resonate into something special. ...

4.5 (out of 5)

The "Intro" sets the tone for the album. The theme? "Gangster." This leads into "Pray", one of six songs produced by Diddy and the Hitmen (Sean C. & LV). A pulsating beat accented by faint background screams provide Jay the canvas to tell stories of watching drug sales and transactions go down. The song is a great departure from the glossy Jay-Z sound and takes it back to Jigga getting money by any means necessary. "American Dreamin'" is a smoothed out track from Diddy and co. with a bad 70s cop show sound (but in a good way). The song sees Jay telling the story of rising to the top and achieving success through moving the weight.

4 Kicks (out of 5)

Rolling Stone:

The music has the Seventies vibe of The Blueprint, led by Puffy, who oversees five tracks with his reassembled Hitmen production squad. Puff keeps the Harvey's Bristol Cream flowing through "Roc Boys," "Party Life" (with a killer Miami disco sample from Little Beaver) and "American Dreamin' " (with a Marvin Gaye chorus and fierce live drums from Mario Winans). ... the concept is really just a spark to get Jay started. Forget Frank Lucas: The real black superhero here is Jay, and with American Gangster, Gray-Hova is back in black.

4 (out of 5).