Review Summary: Jay's feeling down, go get him a blanket please.
Just like how Jay-Z isn’t your average rapper, Kingdom Come isn’t your average rap album. Many fans were originally disappointed by the albums new found R&B backing and Hova’s seemingly weaker and given up voice; even I was saddened by these new events at first. However, Kingdom Come is a grower in the truest sense, and although at first you expect the same Jay Hovi, you realize it is, just in a more matured and older sense.
Kingdom Come is quite reflective in most of its chapters; although it does have the Def Jam required singles in the form of Jay’s worst song ever “Anything” and the mediocre Public-Enemy theft “Show Me What You Got”, most of Kingdom Come is a look at his return and his past. On the Dre-led “Lost One”, Jay uses his first verse to analyze fame, and how it takes the person of fame and turns them egocentric, while in another, albeit bouncier, Doctor prescription in the form of “30 Something”, Hova celebrates his age, something not usually embraced in the rap industry. Jay doesn’t reinvent MCing, like what he did on early albums, forcing producers to mold to him, but here he does what he can and what he’s forced to what he’s got in material: he’s back and slightly more sensitive.
In the midst of New Jay, though, we have incredible inconsistency, sometimes even just in-between two or three tracks. Just Blaze goes in one for three with his productions, shining on the Rick James-sampling madness that is the title track, but embarrassingly failing on the rather silly sampling on “Oh My God” and the P Diddy-ish instrumental swiping of “Show Me What You Got” and Jay lathers these tracks as the production goes. The problem with Kingdom Come is that Jay-Z is only as good as the beat he’s provided, so when he gets radio-friendly-label required junk like “Anything” or “Hollywood”, he rides it like, in King of The Hill, When Bobby just grabs a trash bag and rumbles around with it more like he’s dancing with it in a rather embarrassing fashion. At points, Kingdom Come is really as bad as most make it out to be.
However, Jay is smart in the way he places this filler. He places most of it where it can easily be skipped to make it to better tracks, placing most of the awfulness right in the middle. “Dig A Hole” is the last bad track, and it only really fails because of Swizz Beatz non-beat, but then the album becomes infinitely more reflective than any previous track before. “Minority Report” has Jay rapping on the issue of Katrina, and near the end he starts blaming himself for just giving his money and not his time, while adding a touch of soul/R&B in the form of Ne-Yo, making for one of the best soulful tracks Jay has ever done.
Despite the greatness of “Minority Report”; however, it doesn’t compare to what comes from “Beach Chair”, which sounds more like the closer to a career than anything on The Black Album. “Beach Chair” is dream-like and has an under-water-ish feel, but still manages also to be incredibly dynamic and captivating, and Chris Martin’s crooning of “Life is just a dream” is done like life really is just a dream that we just don’t wake up from. Jay’s lyricism particularly shines here, where he closes off the song like a true artist closes off their career.
“And so you won't lose scent
I'll make a stink for you to think
I ink these verses full of prose
So you won't get conned out of 2 cent
My last will and testament I leave my heir
My share of Roc-A-Fella Records and a new beach chair”
Kingdom Come was a comeback in ways, but it was more of a surrender and admittance of the defeat of Old Jay, other than a few ecstatic and bouncy tracks, that man is no more. Throughout most of this record we have New Hov, and although new Jay sounds disappointing at first, he’s really a great guy if you get to know him, get into the mind set of this man, you know? It’s not the perfect record, and because of a horrific, label-required middle, it isn’t even that great, but if you take a few more listens you realize this is just deeper than a guy who used to be loud now being quiet, this is a man whose experiences have made him into someone new, and slightly less egocentric.