Magna Carta Holy Grail Album Review
Released: July 4,2013
Genre: Hip Hop
Jay Z is a New York rapper, producer and one of the biggest names in hip hop and now a father. MCHG is his twelfth studio album. His last album, a collaboration with Kanye West spurred many hits such as “Ni**as in Paris” and “No Church in the Wild”. For quite some time now, Jay Z hasn’t released anything that has reached widespread praise such as his previous works (American Gangster, The Blueprint, Black Album).
Magna Carta Holy Grail features great production and has many astounding tracks with amazing, fresh instrumentation and beats. The opening track, “Holy Grail” features a great piano ballad, with Justin Timberlake’s voice crooning on verses that are honestly much more interesting than his tracks “Mirrors” and “Suit and Tie”. The beats on this track are tight and well produced and after the beat drops- oooh, killer. However I do have to express my disappointment in the bothersome aspect of Jay Z using the Nirvana lyrics for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It comes off towards me as lazy and I absolutely hate when artists steal lyrics from another artists, and NO IT IS NOT A SAMPLE ,he literally sings the lyrics to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to beat of the track. He uses the lyrics on a hook that, in all brutal honesty, doesn’t work for the song and isn’t all that great or intresting.
Tracks like “Somewhereinamerica” , “Oceans”, and ” Part II (On The Run)” feature great musical integrity, lyricism and again, great production which remain strong points on this LP. “BBC” has a great intro and keeps the energy throughout the song. The beats on Beach Is Better and Crown kind of sounds like a B-Side to a Yeezus track, which I liked very much, however I do wish “Beach Is Better” was longer. “Heaven” is a pretty decent track but I do have to shake my head on the R.E.M reference. Again, laziness in my opinion.
The problem with this album is failed expectations. When Yeezus first came out I was spell bounded by how different it was from his work on Watch The Throne with Jay Z. Then as the Yeezus reviews were piling high with praise Jay comes out with overly hyped Samsung commercials that hinted at “new” rules, reflective tracks about family, Rick Rubin, Pharrell, Timbaland and descriptions of hip hop and internet as the “Wild West”. At some point he says “Hip Hop is about emotion”. The thing is that this is what the album lacks.
Tracks like “Tom Ford” and “Picasso Baby” both reiterate his wealth and opulence but have really, really great instrumentation and beats. But look Jay Z, we get it you’re filthy rich, you’ve said it millions of times. “F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit” has terrible flow, “F.U.T.W” *sigh* (geez the hook on this), and “La Familia” is, sorry, not really intresting lyrically and musically.
Another point that I did not enjoy was the hype over “Jay Z Blue”. I’m sorry but a song that was hyped to be a reflective piece about fatherhood, didn’t come off towards me as memorable or emotional, fabricated would be a better word for it. The “Mommie Dearest” references were a bit overused and creepy the song overall didn’t really mean much, even the Notorious B.I.G samples came off as a nuisance, and the attempt to bring in acoustic guitars to make himself appear vulnerable comes off as an artificial plea for “emotion”.
At this point, track 14, the running time of the album begins to take its toll as more meaningless raps and catchy beats begin to feel tired, dull and uninteresting. It is evident by this point that Jay Z hasn’t grown much musically from Watch The Throne.
In all brutal honesty, I just was not feeling this LP. The production is a really strong, great instrumentation and great cameos from Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce. However, Jay Z plays the lyrics safe and narrow minded about wealth and his pretentiousness of him being “the sh*t.” The only reason this album went platinum the day it was released was because Jay Z sold 1 million copies to Samsung. No comment. Remember in the beginning when I said, there hasn’t been a memorable Jay Z album with widespread acclaim like his previous works? Don’t expect it to come any sooner or now.
GREAT TRACKS: Somewhereinamerica, Versus, Oceans (feat. Frank Ocean) , BBC, Picasso Baby, Beach Is Better, Part II (On The Run) feat. Beyonce
WORST TRACKS: F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit, Tom Ford