Jay-Z
Magna Carta... Holy Grail


2.5
average

Review

by Andrew Gold CONTRIBUTOR (67 Reviews)
November 16th, 2013 | 55 replies | 1,683 views


Release Date: 07/07/2013 | Tracklist


When asked to describe his new album before its release, Jay-Z said it was “fighting for fourth best.” This is odd, of course, since artists usually try to hype up their new release for more interest resulting in better sales. Sometimes the artist may actually think it’s their “best” album, or “most creative” album, or worst of all, their ”return-to-roots” album; but Jay-Z knows it’s not. He knows that Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, and The Black Album are his crown jewels and doesn’t intend to fool people into thinking his newest full-length Magna Carta… Holy Grail is anything other than just another Jay-Z album. While I don’t agree that it’s his fourth best (I enjoyed a good amount of American Gangster), it’s certainly a step in the right direction from The Blueprint 3 and it contains a few choice cuts that will please fans of both hip hop and pop alike.

‘Holy Grail’ is the perfect way to open the album. It features Justin Timberlake and he really steals the show here with his angelic voice soaring through the chorus with the most infectious hook on the album, and Timbaland, who provides most of the production on the album, lays down a solid beat for Jay-Z’s less-than-stellar verses (which isn’t surprising since the man hasn’t put any effort in writing for about a decade). ‘Picasso Baby’ and ‘Tom Ford’ are both production-heavy tracks, the former having a bombastic funk groove and the latter a robotic feel that wouldn’t sound out of place on Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80. Another track pick ‘Oceans’ features the very talented Frank Ocean singing one of the album’s better hooks. However, the only time the album comes close to reaching the heights of ‘Holy Grail’ is near the end of the album on ‘Part II (On the Run)’. Despite lyrically being a cheesy love ballad, it’s one of the few instances on Magna Carta… where each voice – the beautiful piano loop, the entrancing layered harmonies by Beyoncé, the overall ethereal atmosphere – flows together seamlessly.

Timbaland really is the saving grace here. His talent for producing was obvious after The 20/20 Experience, but here he successfully harnesses his skills in the hip hop realm to create a wide variety of atmospheres for Jay-Z to defecate on, making even the more lyrically forgettable songs sound damn good (F.U.T.W., Beach Is Better). Of course Magna Carta… has its fair share of mediocrity, which ranges from a couple forgettable jam sessions (‘Versus’ and ‘BBC’, the latter has a Nas feature that’s over as soon as it begins), the downright annoying ‘Heaven’ and ‘FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt’, and to the lyrically touching yet abominable ‘JAY Z Blue’. No one wants to hear you rap about being a father, Jay-Z. No one.

The real problem here is Jay-Z, and has been for the past decade or so. He’s a hip hop icon, absolutely, and he practically conquered the music industry single handedly as one of the most financially successful rappers ever. But that’s just it – he’s a businessman, not a rapper. All he raps about anymore is usually either gloating about his fame (“I just want a Picasso in my casa, no, my castle/I’m a hassa, no, I’m an asshole/I’m never satisfied, can’t knock my hustle/I wanna Rothko, no, I want a brothel”) or complaining about it (“Caught up in all these lights and cameras/But look what that shit did to Hammer/Goddammit I like it/Bright lights is enticing but look what it did to Tyson”). He’s certainly able to come out with great material (see Watch the Throne), but that’s just because with his fortune he can get basically any creative mind together to make a fantastic product, and it brings the question if Jay-Z would be better off spending the rest of his career behind the scenes rather than on the front lines.

Recommended Tracks:
Holy Grail
Oceans
Part II (On the Run)
Nickels and Dimes



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
November 16th 2013



20749 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

cause somewhere in america miley cyrus is still twerkin'

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Gwyn.
November 16th 2013



14990 Comments


If Jay-Z wasn't in this album this might be better

Digging: diSEMBOWELMENT - Transcendence into the Peripheral

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
November 16th 2013



20749 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this would be a lot better without jay-z

trainofconsequence
November 16th 2013



1422 Comments


Theres some decent stuff on here but yah

Calc
November 16th 2013



12117 Comments


sippin from my cup till it runneth over?


that makes no fuking sense and i hate that song

Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

Gwyn.
November 16th 2013



14990 Comments


this would be a lot better without jay-z


More I think about more I'm convinced it would, and that's so fucking sad

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
November 16th 2013



20749 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

calc im sure if you look through all the lyrics you can pick about 50 lines that make no fucking sense that jay-z raps just because he can

but ya if you hate holy grail youd probably hate most of this. the nirvana part of the song is the only part i really hate

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2013



6079 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

jay-z sucks so of course this would be way better w/o him

Digging: Your Old Droog - Your Old Droog

SlMBOLlC
November 16th 2013



4944 Comments


That summary is spot on





Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
November 16th 2013



20749 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

thanks man i worked hard on it

XingKing
November 17th 2013



10329 Comments


It's weird how all over the place the ratings are for his albums. He goes from extremely high to extremely low. Crazy. I fucking hate his music though and think he is an abysmal rapper

Tyrannic
November 17th 2013



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

you know i was honestly annoyed by this album more than yeezus. but i mean its just because jay z literally isn't even trying anymore. whoopsidaisy beyonce popped out a prophet so now he drops this?

come on now if u seriously think the mmlp2 isn't better than this u might be smoking k2

Tyrannic
November 17th 2013



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

okok i wont change the subject so hey dude well written i actually agree pos

Gwyn.
November 17th 2013



14990 Comments


Haven't listened to mmlp2 in full but prob sucks just like this

Tyrannic
November 17th 2013



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

ok now ur just trying to rub my tie the wrong way.

im gonna go back to trying to play guitar hero on no sleep PEACE

Gwyn.
November 17th 2013



14990 Comments


Also, anyone who doesn't like Jay-Z's rapping should check Reasonable Doubt if they haven't --- He sucks now, yeah, but credit where credit's due, that album rules

Tyrannic
November 17th 2013



3261 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

you know im not even trolling when i say i enjoyed the black album and reasonable doubt.

this was fucking stupid though. evidence: eminem's asshole, run the jewel's sea legs, tech n9ne.........in general, and fuck even juicy j made me sing along to lil wayne for the first time in years. i could list all of the superior albums that dropped this year but if u dont buy opinions then y u in da market MAAAN

Gwyn.
November 17th 2013



14990 Comments


buying things lol

trainofconsequence
November 17th 2013



1422 Comments


This wasnt that bad dudes

Malenchanted
November 17th 2013



356 Comments


fuckwithmeyouknowigotit



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