MTV UN­PLUGGED

(ROC-A-FELLA/DEFJAM,2001)

Q (UK) - - Q Review Reissues -

One day some­one will cu­rate a de­fin­i­tive dou­ble-disc set of Jay-Z’s great­est songs. Un­til then, this im­pres­sive de­tour from his com­fort zone is prefer­able to any of the half-ar­sed hits com­pi­la­tions. Years be­fore he ma­tured into a for­mi­da­ble live act, Jay got to­gether with The Roots at the MTV studios in New York for an in­ti­mate sto­ryso-far set that high­lighted his con­sid­er­able charm and al­most ef­fort­less vir­tu­os­ity – he opens the show by jok­ingly wel­com­ing the au­di­ence to his “po­etry read­ing”. Plugs were in fact re­quired but this is a back­yard hoo­te­nanny com­pared to his glossy stu­dio record­ings, as The Roots clev­erly re-imag­ine sam­ple-based tracks with wit and warmth. Mary J Blige and Philly singer Jaguar Wright bring the soul.

Lis­ten To: Song Cry

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