I first became familiar with Blueprint at Scribble Jam, the Midwest’s premier weekend long hip-hop event. His performance in the emcee battle stuck with me, and I soon found myself checkin’ out his many cameos on other artists records (Vaste Aire, Aesop Rock, etc.) as well as on his Soul Position albums in which he collaborates with fellow Ohioan, RJD2. 1988 marks his first solo album release, and many people like myself have been anticipating this album for a while now.

A look over to the Rhymesayers Web site (home to Atmosphere, M.F. Doom, etc.) will get you some info on the album including a statement that reads “1988 pays homage to the beats, breaks and themes of possibly the most revered year in Hip Hop, 1988!” Indeed, if you miss P.E., the Biz, BDP, etc. an album like this is going to be very welcome and long overdue.

With 1988, Blueprint has applied the lessons learned from countless hours listening to the masters from the old-school (learn from this, new-jacks, please!). The storytelling is dense, the humor and wit outstanding, and the command of the microphone is powerful. The production quality is the way hip-hop records should be, dirty and, for lack of better term, simple. By streamlining his gear for this record blueprint creates the atmosphere of the later ’80s perfectly, back when equipment limitations spurred creativity. The beats capture attention, hit hard and set the perfect tone to each track. The moods range from sinister (“Boombox”) to amazingly fun (“Big Girls Need Love Too”) to introspective (“Liberated,” “Trouble On My Mind”). The range in songs warrants the inclusion of all 13 to the recording, sidestepping commonly found filler material. For an artist that normally shares duties alongside other artists in collaboration, Blueprint’s ability to maintain quality while covering a variety of ideas bodes well. After digesting the album I immediately thought of his next, looking forward toward what else he has in store for us.

As you can tell I am impressed by this record. I already liked Blueprint’s previous work and feel that this is his best yet. It would be a shame if it hadn’t come out. If you are up on the indie hip-hop scene and listen to artists like Edan and Madvillian, I suppose you don’t really need to read this, you most likely already know what’s up. If you are getting up there in age (me!) and reminisce over the good ol’ days then you definitely need to take a listen as these songs would fit right at home next to a Big Daddy Kane video on YO! MTV Raps. With a debut of this quality shaped by such a refreshing concept (especially in these times), Blueprint has proven that he not only can handle the weight but also produce an album that deserves to be heard, and we all need music like that.

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