I don't want to say HOV is back, because frankly I'm not sure he ever went anywhere. Or rather, the Jay Z entity never went anywhere, but the lyrics... and the flow... I don't know if there's any denying that they took a brief, relaxing vacation.
Let's face facts, folks. The Jigga Man has not put out anything that exhibits the fire of the Black Album since, well, the Black Album. The material that was created between then and now, while undeniably peppered with some genuinely fly goods, just didn't have that Jay Z sickness that was so prevalent in tracks like Lucifer, Public Service Announcement, and What More Can I Say. The majority of the Black Album and especially, for me at least, those particular songs, were just so brain meltingly good that you really didn't hesitate over any attempts to vocalize that Jay Z was the most talented rapper doing it.
This proclamation is heard less frequently these days, and the spotlights have shifted direction in that for the past year or so, the focus has been less on HOV the Rapper, and more on HOV the Enigma, the Entrepreneur. But with Blueprint III, it feels like Mr. Carter is lubing up the hip hop defibrillators to send a shock wave of electricity through the atrophying circulatory system of his recently sleepy flow. The singles we're hearing on the radio are irrefutably money, and it's exciting to hear HOV exercising that spicy, audible swagger again.