Review: Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’
Rapper Jay-Z remains consistent with his new album joining the line of his legendary projects, “Reasonable Doubt,” “The Black Album” and “American Gangster.”
Now, the “Magna Carta … Holy Grail” is a platinum-selling album thanks to his deal with Samsung Mobile conglomerate, who bought the first 1 million copies. Samsung took those copies and showcased the album for free on a phone app to the first 1 million listeners. Though the financial condition of “MCHG” is in its highest, the artistry reaches to the next level with this project, as his preferred theme of duality and balancing life and fame satisfactorily transfers well throughout the 16-track masterpiece.
The oxymoronic, somber-celebratory “Oceans” track, which features vocals from Odd Future’s Frank Ocean, plays to the theme perfectly. Alongside its dramatic combination of horns and strings, the lyrics speak on how the ocean water has seen the transportation of African slaves in the past versus the luxurious ride on high-end cruise ships that are now taken by wealthy African-Americans. Jay-Z’s line “Swoosh, that’s the sound of the border / Swoosh, and that’s the sound of a baller” paints the contrast quite well.
“Heaven” also takes a successful shot at the “Holy Grail” aspect of the album, with clever lyrics that speaks to existentialism philosophies through religious undertones while shutting down illuminati allegations. While Timbaland definitely bodies this piece, perhaps the best produced and lyrically sound song on this album goes to “Somewhereinamerica,” with its loud, busty horns and the little piano lines that quietly makes a presence on the beat via loop. This song gives insight to how the black, hip-hop culture has easily blended within other cultures and how Jay-Z spiritually and financially profits off of it.
“MGCH” isn’t without some bad apples, though. Jay-Z does a splendid job of portraying these ideas of duality as well as presenting his introspective, paranoid thought of fatherhood in “Jay Z Blue,” which features some deep self-reflecting over a nice, free-flowing beat. However, much of these songs include only a 30 percent portion of those insights. The other 70 percent lies within “I’m rich and married to Beyoncé. Look at all the things I can buy with my money,” which largely makes the entire LP sound like Jigga is stuck in “Watch the Throne.”
“Tom Ford,” “F*ckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” and “BBC” are all bragging tracks and should have been scrapped from the album. The guest appearance from Nas on the 13th track doesn’t even warrant it a pass— even much of the lyrics are splattered with notions of basking in private islands and indulging in a plethora of different cars.
It’s not just in these tracks that Jay-Z’s bragging flows surfaces. He nearly does it in all of them, shortly hitting away at the analogies that pertain to the theme, but then backing those away and spouting “rich guy” nonsense throughout the rest of the track.
“MCHG” is a well-executed piece of an album that no doubt will become a classic to be heard throughout the years. Jay-Z is presenting himself again through the trials and tribulations of his fame, fortune and fatherhood, which are laced seamlessly against J-Roc, Timbaland, Swizz Beats and Pharell’s work of instrumentals.
However, despite the highness of this album, Jay-Z should be done with the bragging of his richness by now. His resume of musical work has spanned for more than 16 years and compared to Kanye West, Hov shouldn’t lower to the senseless wordplay that is depicted in this album, which does the job fairly on its own.