Jay-Z apparently believes in the adage "You're only as good as your last hit." For his eighth Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam set, "The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse" (due Nov. 12), the Brooklyn, N.Y., MC h

Jay-Z apparently believes in the adage "You're only as good as your last hit." For his eighth Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam set, "The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse" (due Nov. 12), the Brooklyn, N.Y., MC has crafted a sequel of sorts to 2001's Grammy Award-nominated "The Blueprint."

"My whole thing was to record a lot of music coming off 'The Blueprint,'" Jay-Z says. "That was considered a classic as soon it came out. You know how people always compare an artist's last album to their latest. I knew that was going happen, so I wanted to make sure it was extra tight."

The result is a double-disc collection, the first for a Def Jam artist. "I just tried to maintain my level of recording," Jay-Z says. "I know when people pick up a Jay-Z album they're not expecting to hear four [good] records. I could have four hot records -- which would be an amazing album for another artist -- but four records for me is a problem. I have that 'gift' and that 'curse.'"

He says it was that pressure, as well as the pressures of being a successful artist, that inspired the album's subtitle. "I always give people the good and the bad," notes Jay-Z. "People always say [my music] is about one thing or about bling-bling, but since my first album I've always [given] you the good side -- the high life, because that was real for me -- but also [given] you the tracks that come with that life. For every 'Ain't No Nigga' there was a 'D'Evils' on the album. There was a 'Can I Live' for every 'Can't Knock the Hustle.' For every party song, there's always that balance. I figured if I gave people that title, they would zone in on it and really get into it."

Having headlined this summer's Sprite Liquid Mix tour, Jay-Z will return to the road for a radio and in-store promotional tour beginning Nov. 11. There are also plans for an appearance on MTV's "TRL" on the day of the album's release. Additionally, Jay-Z will team with Heineken for a Grammy Awards commercial, with proceeds benefiting music-education charities.

In addition to Beonyce Knowles, who appears on first single "'03 Bonnie & Clyde", "The Blueprint 2" features appearances by Dr. Dre, Rakim, Truth Hurts, and Lenny Kravitz.

"This album is everywhere," Jay-Z says with a smile. "With 'The Blueprint,' there was one specific theme-soul music. This one is about the next level and the future. 'The Blueprint' was about something familiar; this [album] is about what's next. There are all different types of music on there, from rock to soul to reggae -- it's very experimental."





Excerpted from the Nov. 2, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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