.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/2d22a3abe25887a16f996be85603e8b22b927785.jpg Jay-Z Live... MTV Unplugged

Jay-Z

Jay-Z Live... MTV Unplugged

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
January 8, 2002

Jay-Z gives himself an unexpected artistic makeover on the loose Unplugged, which was recorded live in November for an MTV special. Abandoning his usual sample-based production to mix it up with the fiery Roots rhythm section and a string quartet that provides more than just window dressing, he expands his familiar anthems with extemporaneous freestyle forays and smart instrumental interludes. If The Blueprint and previous studio recordings are carefully scripted affairs built on pop song forms, Unplugged celebrates the possibilities of off-the-cuff interplay: The Roots sound like they've been backing Jay-Z for years — they push him to new heights just by working that minimal, relentlessly funky backbeat, supplying sparky little counterlines in the margins. The rapper responds by syncopating and scatting, launching slightly rejiggered choruses on ""Takeover"" and the tongue-twisting ""Jigga What, Jigga Who."" Everything clicks, but there are several moments of pure delirium: ""Heart of the City (Ain't No Love),"" which is enlivened by a spine-tingling gospel ad-lib from Philly newcomer Jaguar Wright, and ""Can't Knock the Hustle/Family Affair,"" which turns on an incandescent Mary J. Blige performance.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Money For Nothing”

    Dire Straits | 1984

    Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com