American Gangster (album)

American Gangster (album)

Infobox Album
Name = American Gangster
Type = studio
Artist = Jay-Z


Released = November 6, 2007
Recorded = 2007
Genre = East Coast hip hop, hip hop, Mafioso rap
Length = 58:38
Label = Island Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella
Producer = Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter (exec.)
Antonio "L.A." Reid (exec.)
Diddy & The Hitmen (LV & Sean C, Mario Winans) (assoc.)
Bigg D, Chris Flame, DJ Toomp, Idris "Driis" Elba, Jermaine Dupri, Just Blaze, No I.D., The Alchemist, The Neptunes
Reviews= * About.com Rating|4|5 [http://rap.about.com/od/previews/fr/AmericanGangsta.htm link]
* Allmusic rating|4|5 [http://wc02.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:39fixzyhldhe link]
* "The A.V. Club" (A-) [http://www.avclub.com/content/music/jay_z link]
* "Entertainment Weekly" (B+) [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20155537,00.html link]
* "New York Times" (favorable) [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/05/arts/music/05jayz.html?_r=1&oref=slogin link]
* Pitchfork Media Rating|8.6|10 [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/46899-american-gangster link]
* PopMatters Rating|8|10 [http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/50730/jay-z-american-gangster link]
* RapReviews.com rating-10|10 [http://rapreviews.com/archive/2007_11F_americangangster.html link]
* "Rolling Stone" rating|4|5 [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/jayz/albums/album/17121991/review/17139179/american_gangster link]
* Slant Magazine rating|4|5 [http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/music_review.asp?ID=1227 link]
* "XXL Magazine" Rating|4|5 [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=16955 (XL)]
Last album = "Kingdom Come"
(2006)
This album = "American Gangster"
(2007)
Next album = "The Blueprint 3"
(2008)Singles
Name = American Gangster
Type = studio
single 1 = Blue Magic
single 1 date = September 20, 2007
single 2 = Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)...
single 2 date = October 10, 2007
single 3 = I Know
single 3 date = January 8, 2008

"American Gangster" is the tenth studio album by American hip hop rapper Jay-Z. It was released on November 6, 2007 in the United States via the record labels Island Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella. "American Gangster" is Jay-Z's first concept album, which was inspired by the film of the same name. The album features production from Diddy & The Hitmen, Just Blaze, and The Neptunes, among others. Guest appearances include Beanie Sigel, Lil Wayne, and Nas. Jay-Z released a cappella version of the album on his birthday, December 4, 2007.

Music critics praised "American Gangster", and noted that Jay-Z was trying more "complex lyrics". The album was released to significant commercial success, despite being pulled from the iTunes Store, selling 425,861 copies in its first week and debuting at number one on the "Billboard" 200, tying Elvis Presley for the second most number one albums. The "Rolling Stone" magazine named "American Gangster" the third best album of 2007. [Robert Christgau, David Fricke, Christian Hoard and Rob Sheffield (December 17, 2007). [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17601851/the_top_50_albums_of_2007/2 The Top 50 Albums of 2007] . "Rolling Stone". Accessed December 19, 2007.]

Background

Concept

Jay-Z originally stated he recorded nine tracks for the album,David M. Halbfinger and Jeff Leeds (September 20, 2007). [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/20/arts/music/20jayz.html?_r=1&oref=slogin For Jay-Z, Inspiration Arrives in a Movie] . "The New York Times". Accessed September 20, 2007.] but the final track listing accumulated fifteen overall cuts (two bonus tracks). He also stated that almost every song is based on a specific scene from the film. Def Jam executive Tracey Waples noted each track from the album will have its own "mini-film". [Omar Burgess (October 4, 2007). [http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.5779/title.def-jam-speaks-on-american-gangster-project Def Jam Speaks on American Gangster Project] . HipHopDX. Accessed October 4, 2007.] As for the direction of the album, Jay-Z used personal memories he hadn't touched on in a while, specifically memories from his early life when he lived in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects. [Lyrical Thought (October 15, 2007). [http://www.defsounds.com/news/view/2630-jay-z-regrets-kingdom-come-corrects-kanye.html Jay-Z Regrets Kingdom Come, Corrects Kanye] . Def Sounds. Accessed October 15, 2007.]

On November 9, 2007, Jay-Z appeared on the "Charlie Rose Show" to discuss the album. [YouTube|nzmAav8yCkI|Charlie Rose - Jay - Z. Accessed November 8, 2007.] When asked about how the film gave life to this album, he replied: quote|It's a New York City tale, you know. So as soon as the movie came on, it was like familiar, things that my pop seen and my uncles seen and, you know, different things like that, things I've seen growing up. So they resonated with me in a way, the story, as well as, I mean, even though everything happens, you know, the way it turns out, you know, it's one of those movies that where you champion the bad guy, because the bad guy, you know, he don't seem like a bad guy, and the good guy — I mean the good guys are bad. You know, that complex — the complexity of human beings in this thing was amazing to me. I loved the complexity of the human beings. [ [http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2007/11/09/1/a-conversation-with-rapper-and-entrepreneur-jay-z A conversation with rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z] . "Charlie Rose Show" (November 9, 2007). Accessed November 7, 2007.]

Removal from iTunes

Jay-Z pulled "American Gangster" from the popular iTunes Store. Jay-Z stated "as movies are not sold scene by scene, this collection will not be sold as individual singles." However, the album is available for digital download, in its entirety, at Rocafella.com, Amazon.com and Rhapsody.com. [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=15931 Jay-Z Pulls "American Gangster" from iTunes] "XXL" (November 6, 2007). Accessed November 6, 2007.] Those who pre-ordered and paid for the entire album from iTunes were still able to download it.

Tour

On October 21, 2007, Jay-Z announced his "American Gangster Live" tour to promote the album. Jay-Z stated that he would only perform material from "American Gangster". The tour consisted of five smaller sized venues across the U.S., starting on November 6, 2007 in L.A. and ending on November 12, 2007 in Philadelphia. [ [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=15211 Jay-Z Announces American Gangster Live Tour] "XXL". (October 22, 2007). Accessed November 2, 2007.] According to a statement on the Roc-A-Fella website, the five-city club tour sold out in less than 60 seconds. [ [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=15577 Jay-Z's American Gangster Tour Sells Out in Under A Minute] "XXL". (October 29, 2007). Accessed November 2, 2007.]

Recording sessions

Jay-Z would have the film—"American Gangster"—playing on the monitors above the recording booth to keep him inspired. [Elliott Wilson (October 19, 2007). [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=15128 Jay-Z: I'll Still Kill (Part I)] "XXL". Accessed December 2, 2007.] In an interview with MTV producer LV from The Hitmen said:

Music

Lyrics

Allmusic says that "And that might be the most common complaint about the album — it's really just another case of Jay-Z being Jay-Z, albeit with different presentation. Unless you know each verse from "Reasonable Doubt" through "Kingdom Come", it might sound like he's dealing with no variation on well-worn themes, the exact same thoughts and emotions that make up older tracks about his past as a drug dealer — the rise, the arrogance, the conflictedness, the fall, and all stages in between."

Pitchfork Media reviewer Tom Breihan noted that "'No Hook' has some of the most complicated rhyme-patterns Jay has tried in years":Tom Breihan (November 8, 2007). [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/46899-american-gangster Jay-Z: American Gangster : Pitchfork Media Review] . Pitchfork Media. Accessed November 19, 2007.]

quote|Stay outta trouble, momma said, as momma sighed
Her fear her youngest son be a victim of homicide
But I gotta get you outta here momma, or I'mma die...inside.
|Jay-Z, "No Hook"

Although Jay-Z says "American Gangster" was inspired by the movie of the same name, he touches on the topics of censorship and the Jena 6 controversy: [Jokesta (November 8, 2007). [http://www.defsounds.com/articles/Jay_z_addresses_censoring_hip_hop_on_new_album_to_debut_with_10th_number_1_1 Jay Z Addresses Censoring Hip Hop On New Album, To Debut with 10th Number 1] . Def Sounds. Accessed November 19, 2007.]

quote|And if Al Sharpton is speaking for me
Somebody get him the word and tell him I don't approve
Tell him I'll remove the curses
If you tell me our schools gon' be perfect
When Jena 6 don't exist Tell him THAT's when I'll stop saying bitch—BIIITCH!
|Jay-Z, "Say Hello"

Guests

Beanie Sigel and Lil Wayne are two of the few featured guest spots on the album, in which Sigel appears on the new version of "Ignorant Shit", and follower Lil Wayne joins Jay-Z on the Beastie Boys-sampling "Hello Brooklyn 2.0". [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=14898 The Official Tracklisting for Jay-Z's "American Gangster"] . "XXL". (October 15, 2007). Accessed October 16, 2007.] Jay returned the favor on "Mr. Carter" from Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III. Also, fellow New York rapper and once rival Nas, is featured on the No I.D.-produced track "Success", while the Neo soul singer Bilal sings the hook on "Fallin'", but is not officially credited.

Production

The Neptunes provide production twice on the album, with the first single "Blue Magic" which is actually a bonus track, and the eighth track "I Know". [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=15480 The Producers Behind Jay-Z's "American Gangster"] . "XXL" (October 25, 2007). Accessed October 25, 2007.] Diddy and two of his producers known as LV & Sean C, who are from his production team The Hitmen, are responsible for six tracks on the album. They are credited with the second single "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)...", "American Dreamin'" (where his other production partner Mario Winans assists), "No Hook", "Party Life", "Pray", and finally "Sweet".

DJ Toomp delivers one track for the album along with additional guitars by Artist/Producer Dean "F.R.E.A.K" Farmer, while Just Blaze is credited for a bonus track and the re-make of "Ignorant Shit". Kanye West mentor No I.D. gives two tracks also, one which he co-produces with Jermaine Dupri and vice versa. Finally, three lesser known producers lend hand to the "Intro", which is credited to Chris Flames and co-production from Idris "Driis" Elba, while Bigg D produces the Beastie Boys sampling-Lil Wayne assisted track, "Hello Brooklyn 2.0".

ingles

Two singles have been released from "American Gangster". The first, "Blue Magic", was released on September 20, 2007, peaking at 55 on the U.S. "Billboard" Hot 100, [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=379&cfgn=Singles&cfn=The+Billboard+Hot+100&ci=3087100&cdi=9435538&cid=10%2F20%2F2007 The "Billboard" Hot 100 – Blue Magic] . "Billboard". Accessed October 11, 2007.] 31 on the U.S. "Billboard" Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=367&cfgn=Singles&cfn=Hot+R%26amp%3BB%2FHip-Hop+Songs&ci=3087085&cdi=9434752&cid=10%2F20%2F2007 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Blue Magic] . "Billboard". Accessed October 11, 2007.] and 17 on the U.S. "Billboard" Hot Rap Tracks. [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=370&cfgn=Singles&cfn=Hot+Rap+Tracks&ci=3087118&cdi=9436288&cid=10%2F20%2F2007 Hot Rap Tracks – Blue Magic] . "Billboard". Accessed October 11, 2007.] The track's name is a reference to the kind of heroin that Frank Lucas sold in the movie "American Gangster", the CD even came in a package similar to the one the heroin came in. The second single, "Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)..." was released on October 10, 2007, and reached 63 on the U.S. "Billboard" Hot 100, [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=379&cfgn=Singles&cfn=The+"Billboard"+Hot+100&ci=3088797&cdi=9547396&cid=12%2F15%2F2007 The "Billboard" Hot 100 – Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)...] "Billboard". Accessed December 6, 2007.] 15 on the U.S. "Billboard" Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=367&cfgn=Singles&cfn=Hot+R%26amp%3BB%2FHip-Hop+Songs&ci=3088778&cdi=9546543&cid=12%2F15%2F2007 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)...] "Billboard". Accessed December 6, 2007.] and 8 on the U.S. "Billboard" Hot Rap Tracks. [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/esearch/chart_display.jsp?cfi=370&cfgn=Singles&cfn=Hot+Rap+Tracks&ci=3088822&cdi=9548279&cid=12%2F15%2F2007 Hot Rap Tracks – Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)...] "Billboard". Accessed December 6, 2007.]

A Cappella CD

Like Jay-Z's 2003 album "The Black Album", Jay-Z released an a cappella version of "American Gangster". Released in December 2007, the a cappella version of the CD caused a string of remix and mash-up albums by both fans and professional DJs/producers alike. Although none of the remix or mash-up albums have yet reached the public notoriety of "The Black Album"'s "The Grey Album", several versions of the CD have made their way into the mainstream.

Several of the notable "American Gangster" Remix albums are listed below:

*2007: "The American GodfatherDJ Skee's "American Godfather" [http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1576362/20071212/jay_z.jhtml DJ Skee's "American Godfather"] . Accessed February 4, 2008.] " - DJ Skee
**Samples: "The Godfather I" & "The Godfather II"
*2007: "Brooklyn SoulMick Boogie's "Brooklyn Soul" [http://jayandmarvin.com/ Mick Boogie's "Brooklyn Soul"] . Accessed February 4, 2008.] " - Mick Boogie, Shuko & The Gunna
**Samples: Marvin Gaye
*2008: "American Gangster The Passion Hifi's "American Gangster" [http://www.freewebs.com/americangangsterremix/ The Passion Hifi's "American Gangster"] . Accessed June 20, 2008] - The Passion hifi
**Samples: Funk, Rock, Soul & Electronic
*2008: "American Convict Constant [The God] 's "American Convict" [http://www.myspace.com/constantthegod Constant's "American Convict"] . Accessed September 11, 2008] - Constant (the God)
**Samples: Soul

ales

"American Gangster" debuted at number one on the "Billboard" 200, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Album charts selling 425,861 records in the United States its first week. [http://www.xxlmag.com/online/?p=16281 Jay-Z Scores 10th #1 Album] . "XXL" (November 14, 2007). Accessed November 19, 2007.] "American Gangster" is Jay-Z's tenth number one album officially tying him with Elvis Presley for the second highest number of number one albums behind The Beatles. [Katie Hasty. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003672227 Jay-Z Leapfrogs Eagles, Britney For No. 1 Debut] . "Billboard". Accessed November 14, 2007.] As of April 23, 2008, "American Gangster" has sold 1,060,769 copies in the United States.

"American Gangster" debuted at number two on the United World Chart behind "Long Road Out of Eden" by The Eagles, selling approximately 457,000 copies. As of December 8, 2007, "American Gangster" has sold approximately 782,000 copies worldwide. [ [http://www.mediatraffic.de/albums-week47-2007.htm United World Chart – week 47 / 2007 – November 24] , [http://www.mediatraffic.de/albums-week48-2007.htm week 48 / 2007 – December 1] , [http://www.mediatraffic.de/albums-week49-2007.htm week 49 / 2007 – December 8] , [http://www.mediatraffic.de/albums-week50-2007.htm week 50 / 2007 – December 15] . Media Traffic. Accessed December 8, 2007.] .As of June 5, 2008 American Gangster has sold over 1,450,000 copies "'

Reception

"American Gangster" received universal acclaim from music critics. [http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/jayz/americangangster Jay-Z: American Gangster (2007): Reviews] Metacritic. Accessed November 5, 2007.] "Rolling Stone" said that "American Gangster" "definitely doesn't have any fluff like "Kingdom Come's" '30 Something' or 'Beach Chair.' Jay sounds relaxed, no longer worried about impressing anyone.Fact|date=August 2008 Instead, he follows the story from the uptown dope-king ambition of 'American Dreamin' ' to the big-payback crash of "Fallin'." [Rob Sheffield (November 15, 2007). [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/jayz/albums/album/17121991/review/17139179/american_gangster Jay-Z – American Gangster Review] . "Rolling Stone". Accessed November 5, 2007.] "Entertainment Weekly" also added "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." [Neil Drumming (October 29, 2007). [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20155537,00.html American Gangster | Music Review] . "Entertainment Weekly". Accessed November 5, 2007.] Allmusic wrote that "While several tracks connected to specific scenes are also rooted in productions trading in the regal grit that made up so much '70s soul, the album is not a straight narrative, broken up by tracks like the boom-clap of 'Hello Brooklyn 2.0' (produced by Bigg D) and the glitzed-out pair of 'I Know' (a half-icing Neptunes layer cake) and 'Ignorant Shit' (where Just Blaze transforms the Isleys' quiet storm staple 'Between the Sheets' into a high-gloss anthem)."Andy Kellman. [http://wc02.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:39fixzyhldhe (((American Gangster > Overview )))] Allmusic. Accessed November 5, 2007.]

Track listing

An asterisk (*) indicates a bonus track.

Personnel

Information taken from Allmusic. [ [http://wm05.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:39fixzyhldhe~T20BC ((( American Gangster > Credits )))] . Allmusic. Accessed November 13, 2007.]

*Producers – Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter (exec.), Antonio "L.A." Reid (exec.), Diddy & The Hitmen (LV & Sean C, Mario Winans) (assoc.), Bigg D, Chris Flame, DJ Toomp, Idris "Driis" Elba, Jermaine Dupri, Just Blaze, No I.D., The Neptunes
*Engineers – Andrew Wright, Jordan "DJ Swivel" Young, Victor Abijaudi, Gimel "Young Guru" Katon, Angelo Aponte, Andrew Coleman, Seth Firkins, Cedric Hollywood Jr., Derrick Selby, Darin Smith, Ryan West, Hector Delgado
*Assistant engineers – Heather Boyden, Andy Geel, Matthew Testa
*Assistant – Hart Gunther, Josh Houghkirk, Anthony Palazzole, Anthony Palazzole, Jordan Young "DJ Swivel"
*Vocals – Keon Bryce, Cheri Dennis, Idris Elba, Leisa Johnson, Shannon Jones, Beyoncé Knowles, Jayms Madison, Jayms Madison, Adonis Stropshire, Cassandra Ventura, A.J. Walker, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Angela Wood
*Mixing – Victor Abijaudi, Duro, Chad Hugo, Jermaine Dupri, Supa Engineer "Dura", Gimel "Young Guru" Katon, Hector Delgado
*Bass – Arden Altino, Ed Goldson, James Lewis
*Cello – Jeanne LeBlanc, Eileen Moon
*Drums – Still Phil, Mario Winans
*Fender Rhodes – Arden Altino
*Guitar – Ed Goldson, James Lewis, Marty Reid
*Keyboards – Arden Altino
*Piano – Arden Altino
*Sax – Andy Snitzer, Kenneth Whalum
*Strings – Arden Altino, Timon Abuptah, Sandra Park, Mario Winans
*Trombone – Mike David, Saunders Sermons
*Trumpet – Keyon Harrold, Jeff Kievit
*Viola – Dawn Hannay, Sue Pray
*Violin – Sandra Park, Minyoung Chang, Lisa Kim, Matthew Lehmann, Liza Lim, Sarah OBoyle, Jeanine Wynton, Sharon Yamada
*Design – Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, J. Peter Robinson
*Art Direction – Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, J. Peter Robinson
*Photography – Arthur Elgort, J. Peter Robinson, Hype Williams
*Arranger – Kenneth Wallum, Hector Delgado
*A&R – Carline Balan, Carter Administration, Terese Joseph
*Stylist – June Ambrose
*Mastering – Tony Dawsey
*Percussion – Bashiri Johnson
*Sample Clearance – Eric Weissman
*Programming – Drew Hollywood
*Editing – Hector Delgado

Charts

References


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