Magna Carta Holy Grail Review

by - July 6, 2013 - - 2 Comments »

(PSA: Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is Robin Lundberg and I am a card carrying Jay-Z Stan. Just in case you were not aware. Ok, read on…)

Magna Carta Holy Grail begins with Justin Timberlake singing. And he sings his heart out. It just wasn’t the way I wanted the album to start, especially after hearing the beat in the commercials. I was expecting some straight up stunting Hov. So my initial reaction to a hugely anticipated album was disappointment. That reaction was fleeting.

The intro “Holy Grail” has grown on me and will certainly serve as a radio staple and a concert smash. No growing was needed for the rest of the record as the second track is the impossibly tough “Picasso Baby”. This song makes me feel like Razor Ramon with a tooth pick hanging out of my mouth. It rules. It also serves as a good example to deal with some of the criticism I’ve seen of the album’s content. Not only do Jay’s lyrics often have clever double meanings but many of them here deal with their surface content and his conflicted overall thought process. Picasso features Hov flaunting his awesomeness (no one is better at that) and newfound art collection while also questioning unnecessary excess and letting people know his own work should be viewed as art. (Despite my snobby critical comments I like it mostly because he is spitting over a ridiculous backdrop.)

Aside from the above, there are several songs with more clearly defined concepts, including the excellent head nodders “Heaven” (which questions religion) and “Jay Z Blue” (where Hov frets about fatherhood). Anyone complaining beyond that is just mad Jay-Z made a Jay-Z record. Which is exactly what he did, a banging one at that.

“Tom Ford” is another album highlight. If I know anything about anything, this song will have a firm grasp on the Summer. “SomewhereinAmerica” is classic Hov slick talk regarding his place in his current social class over a horn and piano based beat. It couldn’t be better. “Part II (On the Run)” really surprised me because once I saw it featured Beyonce I figured it would be my least favorite song as I hate nearly all of their collaborations on his albums. Not this one. It is beautiful.

If I have one major complaint it’s that some of the fat could have been trimmed. “La Familia” immediately comes to mind. But perfect is the enemy of good. And overall the body of work is pretty darn good. (Pretty, pretty, pretty good *Larry David voice*)

It is an exhibition of Hov playing with multiple flows over hard beats. A time tested formula. And it is fun to listen to (which is kind of what I want in music *shrugs*). As a result, Magna Carta Holy Grail is sure to have Miley Cyrus and plenty others twerking for quite a while.

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2 Responses to “Magna Carta Holy Grail Review”

  1. DarksiderNYC says:

    I like two songs on the album: F*ckwithmeyouknowIgotit & BBC. Picasco Baby is also a cool song.

  2. OnToTheNextOne says:

    Nice review, I am also a Stan and enjoyed the CD for the most part. Unlike previous summers/albums, this one doesn’t really have a clear banger, all my friends and across the interwebs everyone seems to have a different favorite song which I think Jay did deliberately, considering he didn’t put out a single. My personal favorites are Oceans, Heaven and FUTW, his wordplay is considerably more complex in this album, I feel like that’s been the case since he’s grown older so this won’t really be appreciated by teens or college kids, they’ll gravitate towards Tom Ford or F*ckwithmeyouknowIgotit, something that just bangs and you can just shut off your brain and enjoy. Still don’t think its his finest stuff (obviously). If I had to rank it, it’ll probably still be in the bottom 3rd, in fact, here’s my list for Jay’s solo career:

    1)Reasonable Doubt
    2)Blueprint
    3)Black Album
    4)Vol 3 S.Carter
    5)American Gangster (probably the most underrated hip hop album ever)
    6)Vol 1 In My Lifetime
    7)Vol 2 Hard Knock Life
    8)MCHG
    9)Blueprint 2 (I know I’m being harsh)
    10)The Dynasty
    11)Blueprint 3
    12)Kingdom Come

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