Music: The Un-Retirement of Jay-Z

Three years after quitting, he returns with an album that flirts with maturity, then loses its nerve

Like running backs and child actors, rappers usually do their best work in the first year or two of their careers. The inevitable decline is brought on not by bum knees or embarrassing arrests--in rap there's no such thing--but by something far more mundane: words. Jay-Z's aptly titled classic What More Can I Say is more than 800 words long, and when it's over, you know everything you could possibly need to know about him. (By contrast, James Blunt's pop ballad You're Beautiful has fewer than 200 words, half of which are beautiful.) Now multiply What More Can I Say's 800...

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