Saturday, July 6, 2013

A review of Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail"

I was a little surprised at how out of the blue, if you will, the announcement of this album came about, but it's all good. With Jay-Z being my #2 favorite MC of all time, this was automatically anticipated by me, although I could've done without the somewhat excessive amounts of hype it received. This would be his 12th studio album and his first since 2009's "The Blueprint 3". How will this one measure up to his previous efforts? Well, let's find out!

Release dates- July 4, 2013 (for those first one million subscribers who downloaded a new app via their Samsung phones, which I will not list here, respectively, and along with it came a free download of this album)

July 7, 2013 (retail release)

 1. Holy Grail (featuring Justin Timberlake)
Produced By: Timbaland, The Dream, & Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon

For starters, this was a very good opener. I like how Jay flows on this beat (although he's not saying nothing new at all) and Mr. Timberlake does a good job on the hook. 4 out of 5

2. Picasso Baby 
Produced By: Timbaland & Adrian Younge

You know I was on the verge of giving this one a 3.5 out of 5, but once the beat switched up with a 1:30 left, I had to up it. Again, I must say he's not saying nothing new, but you can't deny the flair that's still there on the mic, just take a look at the title of this song, lol. 4 out of 5

3. Tom Ford
Produced By: Timbaland & J. Harmon

This was decent, felt like I was listening to "Luxury Jay-Z" on this one ("I don't pop Molly, I rock Tom Ford). Nice beat also. 3.5 out of 5

4. FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt (featuring Rick Ross)
Produced By: Boi-1da

Just look at that title. Again, that tells you all you need to know, and when you've heard one "I got it" type song, you've heard them all and this is NO different, especially Ross' verse, which I could've done without. 2.5 out of 5

 5. Oceans (featuring Frank Ocean)
Produced By: Pharrell

I really like Pharrell's beat, as it matches Jay's subject matter and a very good hook provided by Frank Ocean. 4 out of 5

6. F.U.T.W.
Produced By: Timbaland & J. Harmon

Allow me to refer back to "Encore" from Jay's "The Black Album". He said "I came, I saw, I conquered/From record sales to sell out concerts". That was a true statement. Listening to this one (in which F.U.T.W. stands for "fuck up this world"), I don't take what he's saying seriously in a literal sense, but I kinda see the point he's trying to make (and feel free to tell me if I'm over-analyzing this). 3.5 out of 5

7.  Somewhere In America
Produced By: Mike Dean & Hit Boy

We have all heard about the adventures of Jay-Z all over this world, and although he has done this before (and better), this apply titled song is good for the most part. 3.5 out of 5

8. Crown
Produced By: M. Dean, WondaGurl, and Travis Scott

We get another apply titled song after "Somewhere In America", and even though a song like this could've easily been on "The Blueprint 3" or the "Watch The Throne" album with Kanye West, it's still pretty good. 4 out of 5

9.  Heaven (featuring Justin Timberlake)
Produced By: Timbaland, J. Harmon, and The Dream

"Have you ever been to heaven?" This question is asked during the hook, and it's one appropriately titled song if you ask me. New territory for Jay-Z perhaps? 3.5 out of 5

10. Versus
Produced By: Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, and J. Harmon

Although this is 51 seconds, I had to listen to it twice. Jay is going at someone on this song and he called out no names (I think I may have an idea who it is).

11. Part II (On The Run) featuring Beyonce
Produced By: Timbaland and J. Harmon

When you get Jay and his wife Beyonce on a song, you know what to expect, and I feel this is somewhat of a reprise of "03 Bonnie & Clyde". I have no issue with them collaborating, because in addition to being husband and wife, they're also artists, and that's clear here just like all the other songs they've done together. 3 out of 5

12. Beach Is Better 
Produced By: Mike Will Make It

This is another BRIEF skit/song, much like "Versus".

13. BBC (featuring appearances by Nas, Pharrell, Timbaland, and Beyonce)
Produced By: Timbaland and Pharrell

Just by listening to this song, it sounds like one big party, and that's NO knock to any of the talent involved. With that being said, even with the rating I'm about to give it, I could see it on the radio. 3 out of 5

14. Jay-Z Blue
Produced By: Timbaland and J. Harmon

I LOVE this one, as we get Shawn Carter, the father, on this song, a dedication to his daughter, and I can't forget the "spiritual vocals" of the late great Notorious BIG in the background, best song on this album. 5 out of 5

15. La Familia
Produced By: Timbaland & J. Harmon

Straight for the fam, yes indeed. This is another very good song (I just wish he would've switched up his flow for it). Some may feel it's late, but Jay does deliver, well, let's go ahead and call it what it is, a diss to one Lil Wayne after a few jabs from him over the years (Wanna kidnap wifey / Good luck with that bruh / You must gonna hide your whole family / What you think we wearing black for / Ready for that war / Ready for that war ready / You ain't ready, yo, you radio"). I really don't expect Wayne to respond, and if he does, I can only imagine what ignorant mess we're going to receive. 4 out of 5

16. Nickles and Dimes
Produced By: Swizz Beatz and Kyambo Joshua

This was a very good closer, and it's another one of those songs that could've easily been on the "Watch The Throne" album. 4 out of 5

Well, all bias aside (I'll try at least, lol), this album is pretty good. Production wise it may be a bit "busy" for some, but it fits him nicely at this point in his career. Although his lyrics are NOT wack or phoned in, he's saying nothing new on most of the songs, but the charisma and flair is still there as I mentioned before. Is this better than his last studio/solo album, "The Blueprint 3"? In my opinion, no. The ONLY thing I could've done without, of course, is the song with Rick Ross, which is nothing we haven't heard before in this day and age and easily could've been left off this album.Overall, my rating will likely settle in at 3.5-4 stars, solid recommendation. Will it grace my best albums of 2013 list? Possibly.

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