After becoming mates with Barack Obama and Chris Martin and headlining Glastonbury, there was a danger that Jay-Z could become a hip-hop Bono. Fortunately, he's kept focused on the music and righting hip-hop's wrongs (as on 'Death Of Auto-Tune'), bar a bit of Obama-loving.
'Run This Town' is the first single to be released since new album The Blueprint 3 was finished, but Jay-Z doesn't star. Verses about pledging allegiance to the Roc Nation and saying "what's up" a lot don't really justify the tag. It's actually Rihanna (guest-starring with Kanye West) who takes the lead here, sounding defiant on top of a piano-led, militaristic beat.
Given recent events with Chris Brown, lines about a "dangerous love affair" take on an uncomfortable edge. While Kanye, for once, is the most subdued person on the record, although his verse about the pros and cons of fame is still as angst as one of his all-caps blog rants.
The Blueprint 3 is collaboration-heavy (from the usual suspects such as Pharrell to Empire Of The Sun), so hopefully Run This Town isn't too indicative of the album. Let's hope that like on the original Blueprint, where there was only one guest (Eminem), Jay-Z will be able to take centre stage and rule it.