Jay-Z is the wealthiest man in hip hop (now that Kanye West’s net worth has dropped), and since 1995, Hov has been bringing us quality music. From Reasonable Doubt to 4:44, the Brooklyn rapper has been around since the days of Big Daddy Kane and Biggie Smalls. As one of the first artists from the genre to achieve billionaire status, Hov (real name Shawn Carter) is considered one of the best rappers of all time.
Across his 22-year career, Jay-Z has released 13 studio albums, one compilation album, one mixtape, five collaborative albums, two live albums and one soundtrack. However, not every album release has gone exactly how the Brooklyn rapper wanted it to go. In the early stages of his musical journey, Carter was an extremely prolific writer.
Following his 1995 debut album, Reasonable Doubt, the rapper relentlessly released a new project for fans every year and did so for nine years. Hov maintained this streak until 2003, when he unveiled, The Black Album. After this body of work, the rapper began releasing more erratically. However, it wasn’t The Black Album that gave Jay-Z problems.
Operating at such a high level in the music business and with the world setting high expectations for every project you announce, you can’t afford to bungle album day. Hov knows this, hence why every time he is set to release a project, the Brooklyn rapper makes sure his marketing and promotion are carried out meticulously and strategically, so he has a faultless album rollout. However, some things are just out of the rapper’s control, and what happened on the day of his Blueprint album release was (unfortunately) out of his control.
Carter’s 2001 album rollout commenced exceptionally well when he released his lead single, ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.),’ more widely known as ‘H to the Izzo’. Produced by Kanye West and recorded at Baseline Studios in New York, the song debuted in the top 10, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. With the track being such a hit, Jay-Z even performed the track live at the first-ever BET Awards in June 2001.
Although ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A)’ was the album’s lead single, it wasn’t the first track from the album released to radio. The infamous Jay-Z diss-track ‘Takeover’ was the first album cut given to radio. Aimed at Mobb Deep and Nas, the track began the legendary beef between Nas and Jay-Z. ‘Takeover’ was the precursor to ‘Ether’.
Having built such a buzz around the album, it seemed to Carter that, as per usual, album day would be a huge success. However, an inconceivable, unprecedented incident occurred on album day that gripped the globe, and the event was of such a magnitude that even the biggest rapper in the world couldn’t divert people’s attention towards his album.
Jay-Z and his label had unanimously agreed that the date for his album release would be September 11th, 2001, now infamously known as ‘9/11’. On the morning of Jay-Z’s album day, two hijacked planes were flown into New York’s World Trade Centre skyscrapers in Lower Manhattan. At 08:46 in the morning, reports of a plane crashing into the Trade Centre’s North Tower hit news screens across the entire world. However, the most traumatising event for Americans was when millions watched a second plane hit the South Tower on live television, which then collapsed.
The Blueprint album release coincided with what has since been described as, “the deadliest terrorist attack in American history.” However, shockingly The Blueprint sold over 427,000 copies in its opening week, becoming Jay-Z’s fourth consecutive album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart. You can listen to the album’s lead single ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’ in the video below.