For the record, I think the Blueprint 3 is a pretty awful album and that Jay-Z should have retired after The Black Album like he said he was going to. Anyway, I saw this twitpic by Charles today and smiled despite myself:
The flag only speaks to people that already know about Jay-Z, in the same way that the Rhapsody ad does (although it's a bit lame in hindsight that all his album covers are just his face). It's clever to talk only to your advocates and create knowledge hierarchy rather than try and get new fans - but this is easy when you're Jay-Z and raking in 9 figures a year. It's probably more clever because Jay-Z is a pretty mainstream act (c'mon, he played Glastonberry [sic] and records with Chris Martin) and this approach talks to the people who've supported him the whole while, reminding them of his glorious 90s albums and his place in the hip hop canon - by making them a special circle of people who 'get the reference' he keeps them as advocates.
But none of that makes the Blueprint 3 a good album. Unless you like Mr. Hudson. If you want to listen to 40 year olds rap, go out and buy Cuban Linx II.