The rule is back

By Gus Bode


“American Gangster”

Release Date: November 6, 2007


Record Label: Roc-A-Fella records

If your perception of a gangster is a bit hazy, pop in the latest release from Jay-Z and within seconds your being schooled on exactly what a gangster is.

“The gangster is not defined by how many rocks are in your watch, but more how many rocks you move while on the watch.” The introductory line is produced by one of the actors of the film of the same name that inspired the album “American Gangster,” Idris Elba.

This album is said to be Jay-Z’s return to the kind of music he used to make in the earlier stages of his career. One thing for sure is the album doesn’t skimp on clips from the film and the CD art is the updated version of his first release, “Reasonable Doubt,” complete with suit and cigar smoke.

Jay sticks with Pharrell and Just Blaze, some of his usual hit makers. The real surprise is Diddy being all over the production of this album, welding the songs like “Party Life,” one of the hottest tracks on the album, and the second single, “Roc Boys (and the winner is).”

The feel of the album is the 1970s through and through, which is no surprise considering the movie was set in the ’70s. Jay-Z has told his story again and again of being a major drug dealer in the streets of Brooklyn, way back when. This album is a welcome return to those stories laced with witty wordplay and matching beats.


Jay uses some of the most popular old school singers to create a sound as elaborate as the movie in this significantly different version of the Frank Lucas story.

The Isley Brothers are featured as a sample on a track, and The Dramatics are sampled on the other hottest track on the album “Say Hello.”

The first few songs floating off “American Gangster” may have had skeptics smiling but as usual Jay delivers, and continues to hold the “best rapper in the game” status.

Jakina Hill can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]