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MTV Unplugged: Jay-Z Explicit Lyrics, Live

4.5 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Explicit Lyrics, Live, December 18, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

While it's not quite the "Jigga with an acoustic guitar" setup we'd hoped for, Unplugged reveals once and for all that Shawn Carter is among the few MCs who don't need a whole bunch of electronic wizardry to sound good. Jay-Z's timing is flawless, his hits are showcased, and the audience is obviously having a great time. But aside from some witty banter with folks in the front row, Jay doesn't take this opportunity to loosen up any more than usual. In other words, don't expect much deviation from the standard wording. This Unplugged performance is a "no freestyle zone," represented by the truncated rendition of "Big Pimpin'." Mary J. Blige's no-holds-barred assist on "Can't Knock the Hustle" more than makes up for this, though, demonstrating why she's been hip-hop's favorite muse for 10 years running. The Roots provide ample live band support, although Ahmir Thompson's drumming sounds rather flat and a total violin overkill does a great disservice to "Takeover," Jay's dis-out to Queensbridge. And, yes, there is a hidden studio track. According to Damon Dash, it's entitled "I Hear the People Talking." --Rebecca Levine

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. H To The Izzo
  2. Take Over
  3. Girls, Girls, Girls
  4. Jigga What
  5. Big Pimpin
  6. Ain't No Love
  7. Can I Get A/Hard Knock Life/Ain't No... (Medley)
  8. Can't Knock The Hustle (Medley)
  9. Song Cry
  10. Give It To Me
  11. Jigga, Jigga

Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 18, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Explicit Lyrics, Live
  • Label: Roc A Fella
  • ASIN: B00005UDK5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,524 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Jay-Z Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
How could you not give this album 5 stars? Roots backing him, amazing newcomer Jaguar Wright on backup vocals, guest appearances by Mary J. Blige and Neptunes, and all the hits!! This is how a hip-hop show should be done.
For me, the live band (especially being The Roots) sold me. No pre-recorded music or djs spinning records. REAL music, and it makes even Jay's oldest songs sound fresh!
Jay Z has an amazing gift, that has always been evident to me on his albums. I have always wondered, however, if he could pull it off live. I have seen too many hip-hop acts who were not able to pull off thier studio majic when they hit the stage. Jay Z does it almost better than he does in a studio.
The entire album amazed me. Some do stand out better than others though. Take Over is one of the better battle tracks ever, and sounds even better with a live band (appropriate since it heavily samples The Doors). Jigga What's crowd participation makes it even better than the album version, and the flow into Big Pimpin was perfect. Ain't No Love is amazing because of the powerful chorus sung by Jaguar Wright - who I have seen open for Maxwell, and was impressive there as well. Can't Knock the Hussle was great also because of the chorus, sung by the Queen of R&B/Hip-Hop/Whatever... hey, she's the Queen!
There were some things that I would have liked changed. Big Pimpin sounded great with a live band, and he was right on - however, with only the two verses it seemed to be over too quickly. I know he only did those two verses on the song, but he's an artist - Freestyle! The medelys were great, but I would have liked a trak break, so that I could listen to them individually more easily.
Aside from those two SMALL complaints, this album is definately worth buying whether you are a Jay Z fan, only like a few of his songs, or if you just like live hip-hop, Roots style.
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By A Customer on July 15, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Jay to the izA has once again proved himself, with another hot album. He's puttin in work and he's getting closer to the king of New York crown. I know you all might be asking yourslelf, Hip hop and a live unplugged band...hmmm how does that work? Well let me tell you It works out fine. Jay couldn't have picked a better band cuz the Roots Crew is hip hops finest, and those cats are some amazing musicians. Plus with Jaguar singing the hooks and backup, she put it down, she got a chameleon voice cuz she sounded tight on every track. That's a soulful sista.
I never really thought hip hop could sound this good live, but rest assured it can. All the tracks are done by different producers but they all seem to work. Of course they needed a little extra help on percussion for the Crazy incessant Timbaland Hi-Hats on "Jigga What , Jigga Who" but damn quest love puts it down behind the kit. And on "The Takeover" the Roots manage switch the beat to "Shook Ones" and "Oochie Wally" just to ad a little more fire to Prodigy and Nas' pants respectively.
Mary J Blige came in and showed the love on the classic "Cant knock the Hustle" she still sounds damn good on that track after all these years, Mary still cant knock her hustle. But still even more emotionally moving is "Song Cry" I mean I've never cheated on my wifey but for some reason the song still makes me sad, It must be some of the thug love nature in me. Even Jay himself is almost moved to tears by the end of the track.
From there of course tha party gets started once again, and The roots put it down on the wild Neptunes produced "Give it to me" , with a little extra percussion the track bumps like the pores on the back of a shaven neck.
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Comment 7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
This album... is sweet. Ever since MTV debuted it's "Unplugged" series, I'd been waiting for a hip-hop group to take the stage. Once the Roots started getting popular, I figured they might be the ones to break the mold. I was close.
While the full Roots crew would probably have been a much more exhilarating show, it's hard to complain about having Jay-Z sit in with the band, and banging through newbies and classics like it's nothin'. The diversity of instruments the Roots band plays made covering Jay's tunes pretty simple, and the sounds they couldn't replicate, they simply ad-libbed.
Jay admitted in an interview that he was really feeling the dynamic between himself, the band and the crowd during the sessions, and a good deal of that energy is captured on the album. It's been said that Jigga had to read from a teleprompter during a lot of the set, and you can kind of hear that as well, most noticeably when he stumbles during some of the more rapid-fire lines in "N***a What N***a Who." But oh well. The quality of the jams makes up for it, I suppose.
The whole disc plays in under an hour, and most of the older, better songs are cut short. But the centerpiece of the album is it's best moment, a medley including "Can I Get A...," "Hard Knock Life," "Ain't No N***a," and finally, the Big Willie classic "Can't Knock Da Hustle," featuring none other than the guest on that track, Ms. Mary J. Blige.
But Jay-Hova was clearly the main attraction, commanding the crowd, barking orders and laying rhymes like few can. Playa-hater or not, this is a solid slice of hip-hop pie anyone can sink their fork into.
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MTV Unplugged: Jay-Z
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