“American Gangster,” his tenth studio album, represents Jay’s comeback from that comeback — his chance to reassert himself as hip-hop’s pre-eminent wordsmith and hustler-gone-legal chronicler. This time, he unquestionably delivers the goods — showcasing deft metaphors about his own ghetto ascension and an uncanny ear for dramatic sonic backdrops.
Greg Kot’s “Jay-Z gets his mojo back by riffing on ‘Gangster’ tales“:
The rhymes sound fresher than they have in years because Jay-Z is once again vividly sketching characters and scenes instead of just pounding his chest. He weaves together metaphors about the drug trade, music-making, and relationships that can be read on several levels, the type of multi-tiered rhymes that define great hip-hop.
For as much as people want to root for the underdog and knock off those at the top of their game, sometimes you also have to appreciate greatness when it comes.