TITLE: “Off That (feat. Drake)” / “Reminder”
WEB DEBUT: Aug. 23-24, 2009
ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: A pair of tracks from Jay-Z’s forthcoming Blueprint 3—both produced by Timbaland—made their way online over the past 24 hours, and they’re an interesting study in just where the MC / mogul sees himself at this juncture. “What the hell have y’all done to even have an opinion on what I’ve been doing? / What the hell have you all won, the only thing you can identify with is losing?” he asks in “Reminder,” before running down a litany of his record sales; meanwhile, in the Drake-assisted “Off That,” he takes time out to remind us that he has enough cash to afford a Tribeca loft. But there’s an undercurrent of nervousness that echoes the endless litany of “featuring” mentions on the album’s track listing; after all, in an era where hardly any album can break 100k in a week, let alone go platinum, isn’t running down record sales from the Old Days weird? Not just in a “back in my day” sense, but in a way that could ultimately look dumb should Blueprint 3 underperform as solidly as every other record that’s come out in 2009?
That he has Drake—who’s been one of the few commercial bright spots for pop music in general in 2009—on the trend-spurning “Off That” is also telling. As It’s The Real co-proprietor Jeff Rosenthal put it, “Jay might not need the help to sell records, but he’ll take it.” Of course, that acceptance sends a curiously dissonant message of its own, particularly on a song on which Jay goes to great pains to remind listeners of his time-transcending potency and constant need to break free of what might be considered “now.”
On a musical note, “Off That” sounds pretty good, though, so there’s that. “Reminder” has maybe an “uh” or two too many, but I have to say that it’s nice to hear Timbaland flexing his talents in a way that isn’t reminiscent of the worst parts of Chris Cornell’s solo album.
Jay-Z – Reminder (Produced by Timbaland) [Nah Right]
In the interest of saving dashboard space… [made-up m3m0ries]
Jay-Z Would Like To Remind You That He Isn’t Chasing Trends (No, Really)