Artist: BlueprintTitle: 1988Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Chris Yuscavage

1988 gave Hip-hop music a real voice, and what it was telling the rest of the world was that it was angry and ready to snatch the ear of the mainstream. From Ice-T seizing the reins on his sophomoric Power to Public Enemy ordering the youth to “Fight the Power,” 1988 unleashed a series of power-hungry Hip-hop releases during its rebellious adolescent year – causing many to name 1988 as the pinnacle of the movement’s rise to power.

Leave it to a rapper/producer from Ohio to pay homage to the year’s legacy, as Blueprint’s 1988 (Rhymesayers) conceptually lends its entire sound to the embattled year without sacrificing its lyrical content to a misconstrued attempt at reliving the past. From the Run-DMC-esque “Anything is Possible,” complete with its classic heavy drum patterns, to the Doug E. Fresh-inspired beat boxing of the aptly-titled “Fresh,” Blueprint marks his territory with his facetious words occasionally paired with blast-from-the-past odes, topics, and production values.

Kicking rhymes about his missing pause button and broken tape deck, Blueprint romanticizes the intricacies of his “Boom Box,” compliments of a non-1988 Nas “N.Y State of Mind” sample. And the Aesop Rock-assisted “Lo-Fi Funk” provides the perfect prototype of Blueprint’s sometimes-frustrated lyrics with him spitting, “I hate most commercial rap and the labels that’s selling it/ almost as much as I hate the president…/They killed Tupac, forgot about Will Smith, They killed Biggie Smalls and left us with Limp Bizkit/ like we would be too dumb to know the difference.” Talk about angry – 1988 has nothing on the clearly perturbed Blueprint.

Still, Blueprint is at his best during one of his two extremes: waxing poetically Chuck D-style against police brutality on “Kill Me First” or showing love to every size of woman on his more whimsical “Big Girls Need Love Too.” Shifting gears between serious and silly, Blueprint’s past-driven creations sound artistically vintage without overtly dwelling on the years gone by for too long and ruining the real message hidden behind the 1988 premise.

“Another good album with bad distribution/ Another 100 magazines my album’s not reviewed in/ By the time the fans and press realize I’m the best doing it/ I’ll be making shitty music,” BP rhymes on the preachy “Trouble on My Mind.” He obviously does his best to capture power the best way that 1988 would have known how – anger, frustration, and eventual rebellion wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing package. 1988 lives on.