Jay-Z delivers the most ambitious and most fully realized album of his career with the masterful double-disc Blueprint 2. With contributions from Dr.

Jay-Z delivers the most ambitious and most fully realized album of his career with the masterful double-disc Blueprint 2. With contributions from Dr. Dre, OutKast's Big Boi, the Neptunes, and even Notorious B.I.G. (posthumously), the album plays like a who's who of A-list hip-hop. Even with such an abundance of high-profile guests, the star remains Jay-Z, who continues to grow as an artist. Whether dueting with Beyoncé Knowles ("'03 Bonnie & Clyde"), rhyming over a Lenny Kravitz guitar riff ("Guns & Roses"), or infusing operatic samples into his work ("Blueprint 2"), he continually pushes the envelope of his aesthetic landscape. Lyrically and thematically, Jay-Z sticks to familiar turf: disc 1 (The Gift) is essentially a party album, while disc 2 (The Curse) is a grittier mix of observations on the urban experience and the rapper's latest response to his hangers-on and detractors.—BG

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