The 10th anniversary of 9/11 also coincidentally marks the release of one of the most influential albums of any genre this past decade- Jay Z's The Blueprint. Unbenknownst to listeners when the lead single debuted, Izzo (H.O.V.A.) that it would be launching arguably the most game-changing artist of the past decade- Kanye West. Though he was featured on Jay Z's album released the previous year, his first massive exposure and shaping of an album coincided with The Blueprint. Kanye's vision of using old-school soul samples like J Dilla and No ID before him and looping them into accessible, modern beats is a typical practice used today, but an underground concept at the time.
I never really appreciated "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" when it was released. In 2001, the only hip-hop I really listened to were the backpacker, socially conscious sounds of The Roots and Black Star. Jay-Z was merely another typical mainstream rapper that released a #1 album every fall, and "Izzo" was no different. Sure, it was catchy, and the Blueprint was on every critic's year-end list, but did anyone realize at the time the influence Kanye's production would have on the entire world? The song still holds up incredibly well today thanks to its sample of one of pop's undisputed classics- Jackson 5's I Want You Back.
So, here we are... 10 years later in a country much darker, paranoid, fear-mongering, pessimistic, and generally worse off. At least this lead single from the album that spent 3 weeks at #1 on the album charts post 9/11 (only to be knocked off by a 9/11 tribute album) provides a bit of escapism.