MAGNA CARTA…HOLY GRAIL : A REVIEW

 

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Jay Z’s 12th studio album. Hov is still one of the few artistes to have successfully been able to combine commercialism and content and make a profit off of it.  [Dude, Hov needs no introduction]. To get in this album I had to jam Reasonable Doubt and The Black Album cos I believe those are his best albums so far. So forgive me if I review this with high expectations.

Holy Grail ft Justin Timberlake

Can’t even take my daughter for a walk, see ’em by the corner store
I feel like I’m cornered off enough is enough, I’m calling this off
Who the fuck I’m kidding though, I’m getting high, sitting low

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This starts off with a scintillating chorus from JT before Hov proceeds to spit some of his regular stuff. The Nirvana sample didn’t really make much sense here. [Here’s the thing if any artiste is gonna make a track like this, it’s either it’s completely awesome or it’s not and in this case it’s not, I have nothing against the track I think it’s very okay but it fails more than it excels].

Picasso Baby

My Mirandas don’t stand a chance with cops
Even my old fans like “old man just stop”
I could if I would but I can’t, I’m hot
And you blow, I’m still the man to watch
Hublot on my left hand or not

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The first and second verses have Hov spitting some artistic shii. After the break, He goes into this “99 problems” flow mode but this one has him sending shots out to Fox news, the paparazzi and fans that have lost faith in him. The way he flows on this beat is just craY and the beat itself is a being on it’s own. The song title should read JayZ ft the Beat. It’s that good. [The sound of the slapping electric bass and the 3rd verse >>>]

Tom Ford

District of Columbia, guns on y’all Tumblrs
Fuck hashtags and retweets, nigga
140 characters in these streets, nigga

From the moment the song started, I was already head bobbing and imagining a video for this song. The only problem here is his flow when he starts rapping, he almost sounds like he’s buffering or loading. The best parts of this song are the beat and the hook but the verses just fall short of being good enough for a Hov rap album.

FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt ft Rick Ross

I don’t bop, I do the money dance – Rick Ross

Hov keep gettin’ that dinero, got it
Even if a nigga gotta Robert, get it? –  Jay-Z

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The beat has this H-Town feel to it (the late Pimp C of UGK was the dude talking about the importance of jewels on the intro), that bump-your-head-and-drive-in-slow-mo feel. Ross’ verse on this isn’t that spectacular as he takes too many pauses (the buffering thing again) and he doesn’t fully connect with the beat. Hov, on the other hand, speeds it up and spits some of that raw raw. All in all, this is another really good track. [I just have to talk, this track is one of the best moments on this album from the intro to the hook and yes Ross’ pauses work so well with the idea of the song (he was lika a hype man for the track, brilliant) the track has a whole bounce feel to it even hov didn’t speed it up that much, you just have to enjoy the feel of the track and do the ‘money dance’]

Oceans ft Frank Ocean

Only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace
I don’t even like Washingtons in my pocket

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This is an awesome song. The concept being that the same seas that rich black men yacht on are the same seas that their forefathers were brought to the Americas on. It’s essentially a re-imagined form of Ye’s New Slaves. The hook by Frank Ocean is perfect and Hov also doesn’t disappoint with the layered lyrics about the new fortunes of old slaves. #NewRules

F.U.T.W (fuck up this world)

You know I’m gon’ shine like a trillion watts
You know a nigga trill as Michael Jackson socks
Sendin’ light out to Compton and the hundred blocks
Lil bastard boy, basking on top

Hov is more laid back on this and his words are louder than his voice on this. This song has Hov talking about being the face of the black community. [This is Hov in his element, just gotta love it].

Somewhere in America

New money, they looking down on me
Blue bloods they trying to clown on me
You can turn up your nose high society
Never gone turn down the homie

This one is more of a slow jazz vibe like the sort of stuff they play in Upper class clubs while people are eating. I don’t really get the song cos there’s really no theme to it, it’s just 2minutes and 27 seconds of Hova ignorance. [Nah, the track is about racism from his perspective as a wealthy man, it’s another really great moment. If you just follow the idea and thought of the verse, you would really appreciate the end more]

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Crown ft Travi$ $cott

You in the presence of a king
Scratch that, you in the presence of a god
Put in the belly of the beast

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This sounds like a Yeezus beat but Ye wasn’t even on this. The production on this one is Mike Dean, Travis Scott & WondaGurl (some 16 year old girl. Makes you think “What am i doing with my life?”). The beat is crazy and Hov matches it with god comparisons and that awesome “caine and able” line. I actually liked this so much, I set it as my ringtone. [Didn’t feel the hook from Travis on this, all through my mind kept going to Ross’ ‘hold me back’ hook].

Heaven

Getting ghost in the Ghost, can you see me? Can you see me?
Have mercy on a Judas, angel wings on a ‘ghini
I’m secular, tell the hecklers seckle down
Y’all religion creates division like my Maybach partition
And God is my chauffeur, boy they love Hova

Ok, that lasted just 30 seconds. This is my new rigntone. The Aerosmith sample was used so well and Hov once again murked this. [The way Hov played around with the rhymes on this and the thought of the track itself is just awesome and also the way he sells the idea is just brilliant]

Versus (interlude)

Your last shit ain’t better than my first shit
Your best shit ain’t better than my worst shit

This interlude has Hov dismissing all rappers who believe they’re on his level. Too short. [ I guess he doesn’t have time to be going at niggas again]. No time

Part II (on the run) ft Beyonce

Matching tatts, this Ink don’t come off
Even if rings come off, if things ring off

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Part 2 of 03Bonnie & Clyde? I think so. The message here is essentially the same. This is a love song for gangsters. Pretty good song. [ There is no denying that Hov and Bey make great music together and this is no exception, it’s a great composition, all the elements just come together really well]

Beach is Better (interlude)

I brought sand to the beach cause my beach is better
You can keep ya beach cause that beach whatever

This track is so good yet so short. I mean the beat sounded like H.A.M but it was just so so short.

BBC ft Beyonce, Nas

My whole life is leisure
Gangsta lean like the Pisa – Nas

Rope chains, Rakim and Eric B
Bought my sidekicks Suzuki Jeeps and Cherokees
Hoop earrings, coupes with the rear cameras
Put that bitch in a cherry M3 – Jay-Z

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This song makes up for the brevity of the previous track. This one has the other god on it and it lives up to expectation. I can’t even say that one artiste outshined the other. Really. [This is a fun track as it is supposed to be (don’t compare Nas and Jay), it’s one I can listen to for days].

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JayZ Blue (Daddy Dearest)

Father never taught me how to be a father, treat a mother
I don’t wanna have to just repeat another leave another
Baby with no daddy want no mama drama
I just wanna take her back to a time when everything was calmer
Out in Paris on a terrace watching the Eiffel Tower
And a Ferris wheel yet and still, nothing could prepare us
For the beauty that you be Blue be

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This song is for his daughter (obviously). It sounds sorta disjointed with the Mommy Dearest snippets and Biggie’s grunts plus the beat just seems everywhere [check your ears brah]. There are a couple of quotable lines on this but I’m just not feeling it.  Oh shit. Ok, I jammed this again and it’s not bad. Not bad at all. [ it’s actually very good].

La Familia

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, you ain’t really ready

Nah. I can’t deal with this. Nah. [ Yo! He’s preparing the family for war, this is serious business, not sure what war tho *sigh]

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Nickels and Dimes

Got a thing for nickel plated nines and pretty dimes
Mac-11 I squeeze like lemon limes
Squirt obey your thirst, fashion lines

There are some lines that just fail on this track but at the same time, there are some really good ones. This track is okay too. It takes a particular mood to actually enjoy this one.

In Conclusion

The album, on the whole, is great but as Hov as always done in recent times, it’s almost unbearable at times to listen to some lines that you’d only expect from a less skilled MC like Meek Mill or Trinidad James (Yes, I just put Millie and TJ in the same category. Sue me). Thing is, Hov is trying to be a lot of things at once (Agent, Businessman, CEO, Record label owner and Rapper) and it seems like he just didn’t give this his full attention. This seems like a half-hearted attempt at an album.

The album leans towards being classic for the better part but then it leans towards FAILing, it almost subtracts from the rest of the tracks..

The production on this is top notch as should be expected from an album that boasts Rick Rubin, Timbaland and Pharell as producers.

There’s a lot to say about this album but I’m just going to stop here and give this album a B. Bite me.

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3 thoughts on “MAGNA CARTA…HOLY GRAIL : A REVIEW

  1. Great review, the writer took time out to listen to the album and the little details and basically reviewed it the way I did in my head after listening, although with a few exceptions. And yes my favorite songs on the album are Picasso Baby and Oceans. I also felt Jay could have worked a bit more on his lines but its a good album still

  2. Very good review.. All the songs especially Oceans, Holy Grail and Picasso did for me. On Nickles and Dimes, Jay went hard, talking shots at folks and all.
    As you pointed, Travis wasn’t on Crown.. at all.
    Good work bro

    • @swaye the dude that said
      “Shit on me, these niggas tried to shit on me. I was left for dead, they tried to wipe me out of your history. Shit on me, these niggas tried to shit on me. I was left for dead, they tried to wipe me out of they history”. Part was TRAVIS

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