We are what we are now. It’s certainly that way for those who meet us for the first time now. I get that. In 2021 it’s very likely people think of Blueprint as the wisecracking host (strong shout out to co-host Illogic!) of the Super Duty Tough Work Podcast flipping industry wisdom like pancakes. See examples below:
My first impression of Blueprint was that he was insane. I was binging Scribble Jam dvd after Scribble Jam dvd (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scribble_Jam) watching him pull up uncomfortably close to opponents faces projecting as blunt, fearless, threatening. Sage, Slug, Brother Ali, Adeem all had their own styles but Print seemed ferocious in a way none of them were. I dabbled respectfully in his catalog, shaking my fist at the Pitchfork review for 1988 (classic old school mean and dismissive Pitchfork) which is an all time boom bap revival album. Print never minced words or tried to befuddle the audience, whether the subject was himself or poverty or being the best he put the ball between your numbers.
It was in 2008 when things started to change. I had seen he was giving away an EP called Blueprint Vs. Funkadelic through his website. It was short self-produced and absolutely brilliant. That beat for The Day To Day, between the guitar lick and the drums, is absolutely timeless. I had a light email exchange with him, asking who produced it and gushing when I found out it was him. Production wise I had associated him with RJD2 (his partner in Soul Position). The rep RJ carried was serious so I really didn’t check his development as a producer until that project. This is important because that early 00’s Scribble Jam scene crested. Print was still on Rhymesayers but was on page nine or ten behind lots of folks who had been signed and were fighting tooth and nail for audience in a newly formed digital music world. Music as a business is built around taking established artists for granted the second momentum let’s up. He couldn’t drop another 8 Million Stories.
In 2011 he produced the work I see whenever you say his name. If you start talking to me about Blueprint I don’t think about the screwface on the battle rapper holding the mic like a light saber. I think of the album Adventures in Counter-Culture. The tenderness in his singing on Welcome Home, the fact that Go Hard or Go Home(Printnificence) is a beat you’d give Radiohead! He pushed off in a completely different direction. Putting it on today, my wife and son were instantly dancing in the kitchen to Wanna Be Like You which is a top-notch dance pop song. He produced, wrote and sang it. Some of your heroes can rap at Blueprints level but none of them can give you So Alive. So Alive is like Jadakiss and Anderson Paak merging into one thing. It’s lyrical with sharp imagery and emotional foundation but you can just rock out to the hand claps and the tempo.
The album charted on Billboard top R&B/Hip Hop Albums and created a new leg in his career. When he’s tough on artists slouching or bad habits it’s ok to be annoyed. We all can be annoying some days BUT after ten years in music he was on his way out. The tastemakers weren’t interested so he did the nearly impossible. He went back to the kitchen and started from scratch with a strategic push. I think of him in the booth so used to rapping ceaselessly only to push his voice as pretty as it can get for the big, lush hooks that will ground this album. Would he lose his base? Did he have a base left? He earned the comfort he has now. If I ever got to interview him, a lot of it would be about 2011 and what it did for him. How it changed people’s reaction to him. We are what we are now but I wish more people knew how Blueprint got there.
Buy Adventures In Counter-Culture below: