04 July 2013

REVIEW: Jay-Z - Magna Carta Holy Grail

These days, Jay-Z tends to play the background by cutting back on annual album releases. The type of demand it generates could easily be compared to that of Jordan Sneakers or the unrealistically rare and severely overhyped Air Yeezy's. Jay-Z is the master of catching everyone's attention, and with MCHG I'm glad that donating my attention has been worth it. This album gets off to a rocky start with a couple questionable production choices like those found on "Tom Ford," but it starts to pick up around "Oceans," and peaks at "F.U.T.W.," one of the stronger tracks on the album. That trend continues throughout the majority of Magna Carta up until "BBC," where we see the God's Son, Nas, come out of nowhere to share a little bit of that light with Hov. The collab is a welcome surprise, as most people were only expecting features from Ross, JT, and Beyonce leading up to this album's release.

I almost wish the entire album sounded like "Somewhereinamerica" though. This track embodies everything we've been missing from Jay even though it clocks in at just under two and half minutes. "Crown" shows Jay adopting styles that are closer to what you'd find from the likes of 2 Chainz, but Jay adds just enough stank on it to keep it from being horrible like that nigga who repeats his own name more than he actually raps. The consistency throughout the middle of the album stays true with Heaven, and even with the Bonnie & Clyde sequel "Part II (On The Run)." Several potential singles will come from these songs that make up the meat of MCHG. That could be a good or bad thing depending on how much of a hater you are. Just know that Jay-Z is no stranger to the radio and is also one of the few artists from the "Golden Era," as we call it, that is also able to keep even non-radio heads bumpin his shit.

He has two questionable tracks on the album, which I feel were purposely crafted this way by Jay to make us want more. "Versus" and "Beach is Better" are both less than a minute long and both end abruptly just as you begin to start rocking to them. It pissed me off the first time it happened, but when it happened again two tracks later I was like "FUCK YOU HOV!!!" Nigga playin wit our emotions and shit. I don't appreciate it. Give us full 3-5 minute songs across the board!

All in all though, this is a very welcome addition to Jay-Z's inpenetrable arsenal in his discography. Calling albums "classics" these days is a term that is tossed around harder than Rihanna's loose monkey, so we won't even go there. It also may be too early to say the album is better than anything in his past, but there are glimpses of vintage Jay spread across the entire album mixed in with that current off-beat Jay we've come to accept and hate in recent years. With the mount rushmore of producers at his disposal, expectations for the beats are undoubtedly sky-high. For the most part they don't disappoint, but there aren't any true standouts nor is there any horrible electronica bullshit that has littered the entire genre lately. You won't find any Blueprint 3-esque risks on this album.

There was a time when the god emcee would bless us with a new project every summer without fail. In recent years though, he has switched his approach to every couple of years. It's almost like he holds out on us until he feels we are ready to receive his music, skyrocketing the demand through the roof. While the quality of his music has been up for heavy debate with his last couple of projects, there's no denying Jay-Z has a way of stealing the spotlight from everyone in the game, regardless of how much youngins and old heads alike claim that he's fallen off and can't rap anymore. You would be hard pressed to find another artist in the history of urban music that has the power to shut shit down the way Hov does when he releases a new album. A few days ago we were all talking about Wale. Before then we were shitting on Kanye Kardashian and praising J. Cole. But now for those who have Magna Carta Holy Grail in rotation, they see that Jay just snatched all that attention from the young artists, some of whom have probably eclipsed Jigga in terms of lyricism and cadence at this point. Jay-Z's motto, "I Will Not Lose," is ringing truer now more than ever.

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Twitter: @BestInTheMix, @TwonJonson


  1. I can respect that. I'm a Jay fan through and through, hit and miss. And yea I've come to terms with his latest project not being Reasonable Doubt quality or, for that matter, American Gangster quality, so anything he drops i take it as the new millenia HOV. Speaking of American Gangster, I look at that album now as a farewell to the rap style of the past. Gone are the storytellers, the dream livers, the lyricists, and the metaphorics. That album was the last of that kind and here hasn't been another to equal that format since. Good review, Twon.

  2. He is talking a different language that few will catch on to.....but not his best nor worse I can think of a couple of his albums I wouldnt play before this one. Jay is still on top...and he got his muscle kayne comin right behind him with his codes and shit....but magna carta definitely craps all over yesus.....but its all about the message they aren't competing. ...pay attention