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Review Jun 23 2024 Written by

Blueprint – 1988 (2005) | Review

Blueprint - 1988 (2005) | Review

Blueprint’s 1988 is a central piece in his discography, often heralded as his best-known solo album, particularly for those familiar with his work outside of Soul Position. Despite not achieving mainstream recognition, 1988 is revered by Hip Hop fans who appreciate its homage to a pivotal year in the genre’s history. The album’s introductory track, a blend of Stetsasonic’s “Stet Troop ’88” and KRS-One’s “Fresh For ’88” statement that ended the iconic BDP “My Philopshopy” single, sets a nostalgic tone. This leads into a brief track with a classic Run-DMC beat before transitioning into the titular track, “1988,” characterized by old-school scratching and battle rap bravado.

The album features numerous standout tracks such as “Tramp,” “Trouble On My Mind,” “Fresh,” and “Liberated,” but what truly elevates 1988 is its cohesiveness. Blueprint crafts a soundscape that simultaneously channels the golden age of Hip Hop and incorporates modern elements, creating a layered and dynamic listening experience. 1988 is not simply a throwback; it’s a sophisticated blend of past and present, marking it as one of the crown jewels of Blueprint’s career and a standout Hip Hop album of 2005.

The year 1988 was a fulcrum in Hip Hop’s evolution, with landmark albums from Public Enemy, N.W.A, Eric B. & Rakim, MC Lyte, EPMD, Ice-T, Boogie Down Productions, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Jungle Brothers, Ultramagnetic MCs, Biz Markie, Too Short, and Run DMC. Blueprint, having lived through this era, brings an authenticity to 1988 that many of his contemporary retrospectives lacked.

Blueprint - 1988 (2005) | Review

Blueprint’s execution prevents the album from falling into hollow nostalgia or beat-jacking. His reverence for the past is clear, but he injects his unique voice and modern sensibilities into the mix. The title track “1988” epitomizes this blend, merging his break and backing with a piano loop used by El-P on Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein. Blueprint’s humorous self-awareness shines through as he repeatedly echoes a Vast Aire quote over the track, solidifying his place within Hip Hop’s lineage.

Lyrically, Blueprint oscillates between braggadocio and vulnerability, as seen on tracks like “Big Girls Need Love Too,” where he humorously addresses his affection for women of varying body types. This playful insensitivity contrasts with more serious tracks like “Inner-City-Native-Son,” a poignant narrative about a young man’s descent into crime, and “Kill Me First,” a searing critique of police brutality featuring CJ the Cynic. “Boombox” stands out as an ode to the pre-earpods era when portable stereo systems were a symbol of personal and communal expression. The track’s beat, a dirge-like blend of guitars and pianos, underscores Blueprint’s detailed description of his beloved ghetto blaster and his victories in sound clashes.

Blueprint’s lyrical dexterity is evident throughout the album. On “Fresh,” he chastises unoriginal emcees, highlighting their lack of creativity and historical knowledge. His verses on “Trouble On My Mind” reflect his frustration with the music industry and his personal struggles, a sentiment echoed in the stark production reminiscent of Public Enemy’s sonic intensity. Despite its serious moments, 1988 retains a sense of humor and wit, particularly in tracks like “Where’s Your Girlfriend At?” and the irreverent “Big Girls Need Love Too.” Blueprint’s ability to balance lightheartedness with profound commentary makes 1988 a multifaceted album that pays homage to Hip Hop’s golden era while remaining relevant in the 2000s.

Overall, 1988 is a masterclass in blending homage with innovation. Blueprint captures the essence of a pivotal year in Hip Hop, using it as a foundation to build something fresh and engaging. His dual role as emcee and producer allows for a cohesive vision, making 1988 an essential listen for any Hip Hop enthusiast.

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