Blueprint Chamber Music

[Weightless; 2004]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: independent hip-hop, underground hip-hop
Others: RJD2, Soul Position, Jurassic 5, J-Live

One part producer, two parts emcee, Blueprint certainly holds enough weight to continue gaining respect and credibility amongst today's high-caliber hip-hop acts. Yet, Blueprint's latest release, Chamber Music, leaves a dissatisfied outlook at his ability to properly differentiate his skills. While Chamber Music introduces us to Blueprint 'the producer,' nothing compares to his skillful emceeing with his counterpart DJ RJD2 on the surprisingly hip and successful Soul Position. One can't help to wait on more in-your-face rhymes like "I'm willing to bet that your DJ was born one minute ahead of you." But on Chamber Music, it isn't there, not at all.

Instead, Blueprint dabbles in jazz, funk, and even drum and bass to pay homage to the producers of today's hip-hop. While Blueprint's emcee performances are limited, others lend a hand and contribute vigorous and witty rhymes to compliment the producer's high-energy beats. Vast Aire returns to pre-Cannibal Ox form on "Small World, Big Plan," the most impressive track on the record. "Encounter" features the skills of Aesop Rock, engraving his signature emcee trademark on an eerie, slow-paced soundscape. Illogic lends a verse on "Sacrifice" and compliments to accompanying piano loop. Yet, the success of Chamber Music lies on the guest appearances only, relieving the listener from Blueprint's mundane beat collages on the other tracks. In fact, too many sampled speeches and cut and paste chatting further shadows Blueprint's beats, creating the perception that these tracks are overly-long interludes. While fifty percent of the record seems empty and soulless, you can't help yourself to skip the instrumental tracks altogether. This leaves only five tracks that show promise because of the contributions by other hip-hop artists.

While many other producers have dabbled in instrumental albums recently, including El-P and Madlib, Blueprint's real skills are on the mic. His Pharoahe Monch-like delivery is erratic and electrifying and has been a vital contribution to Soul position's success. Nothing compares to the witty and cynical banter on Soul Position's "Printmatic," possibly one of today's strongest hip-hop tracks. Unfortunately, it isn't at all evident on Chamber Music, which leads to a disagreeable conclusion. Blueprint is not a bad producer; he is just a much better emcee. And Chamber Music only reinforces that statement.

1. Intro
2. Mr. Hyde
3. Mission Statement
4. Starch
5. My Melody
6. Small World Big Plans (feat. Vast Aire)
7. Behave Yourself
8. Hot Sex
9. Encounter (feat. Aesop Rock)
10. Arms Too Short
11. Sacrifice (feat. Illogic)
12. Full Moon
13. Pendulum Master (feat. WindNBreeze)
14. Outro