Few believed Jay-Z would actually stay retired, so his return is no surprise. But why come back now? He went out on top, and as president of Def Jam, he's the head of rap's premier institution. What more could he want? The Dr. Dre-produced track "30 Something" may provide some insight: Evidently, it's all about "the maturation of Jay-Zeezy." Throughout the disc, Hova demonstrates that the genre he helped popularize can indeed age gracefully, as he simultaneously schools younger sucker MCs and responds to attacks from Def Jam artists, former friends (Damon Dash) and subpar MCs (Cam'ron). Elsewhere, Jay offers a primer on urban upward mobility ("Oh My God") and sermonizes about his unlikely rise to become the Horatio Alger of hip-hop. Just Blaze helms the latter cut, twisting knobs on Greg Allman until he sounds like Janis Joplin on helium at a church revival. Rejuvenated and focused, the self-proclaimed former Marcy-project terrorist proves there is more to life than slinging rocks. Just don't call it a comeback.


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