Rolling Stone (1/31/02, p.52) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...He expands his familair anthems with extemporaneous freestyle forays and smart instrumental interludes....Everything clicks [with] several points of pure delirium..."
Entertainment Weekly (1/11/02, pp.68-9) - "...A beautiful thing....cut from a different, more vibrant cloth: It adheres to, and respects, the original arrangements of his studio recordings, also building on them and adding a new, unheard element to his music: celebration..." - Rating: A
Q (2/02, p.110) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Jay-Z is a complex beast..."
NME (Magazine) (1/19/02, p.28) - 7 out of 10 - "...This is the sound of a man at the top of his game....underlining what an amazing back catalogue the man possesses..."
Personnel includes: Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell.
Producers: Ahmir Thompson, The Roots, Alex Coletti.
Recorded live at MTV Studios, New York, New York on November 18, 2001.
Audio Mixers: Questlove; Richard Nichols; Russell Elevado.
Recording information: MTV Studios, Times Square, New York, NY (12/18/2001).
Director: Milt Lage.
Photographer: Walik Goshorn.
Following the success of Blueprint, Jay-Z took a break from the studio productions of Timbaland and Just Blaze and stepped into acoustic surroundings for a taped edition of MTV's long-running Unplugged series. With the talents of the Roots as his backing band, Jay-Z fails to miss a step and feels just as comfortable in the unplugged arena as he does with drum machines and a mixing desk in front of him. The skills of Roots drummer Ahmir Thompson emulate even the slightest nuance from the originally programmed electronic beats, and Jay-Z fails to take this for granted, gently shifting from one song to the next in medley form with ease. With a strong track listing spanning his entire career of chart-topping hits, this album is the perfect introduction to Jay-Z's prolific catalog and a fun listen for the most dedicated of fans. ~ Rob Theakston
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