It has been awhile since Jay Z released his last solo album, which I enjoyed. Now he’s back, with a 16-track collection called Magna Carta…Holy Grail. Does the 43 year old rapper still have what it takes to remain musically relevant? Let us begin:
1/Holy Grail (featuring Justin Timberlake)
The best part about this song are Timberlake’s vocals. Jay Z’s lyrics sounds rather bland, and the music, with a really fast beat, just doesn’t work for me.
A nice thumping beat with Jay Z sounding like his old classic self. I like this one.
A mid-tempo track, it is okay, but not great.
4/Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit (featuring Rick Ross)
5/Oceans (featuring Frank Ocean)
Pretty good. Both Jay Z’s lyrics and Frank Ocean’s vocals work with the mid-tempo track.
This stands for Fuck Up This World. Nice beat.
Another okay, but nothing special, song.
Eh. Didn’t grab me at all.
A good slow track, that invokes classic Jay Z.
11/Part II, On The Run (featuring Beyoncé)
Jay and Beyoncé collaborating over a smooth R&B track. Very good.
12/Beach Is Better
A short song that didn’t grab.
13/BBC (feat. Nas, Beyonce, Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland & Swizz Beatz)
Best song of the album. An up-tempo track, with everyone bringing their A-game. Nas is the best on this one.
14/Jay Z Blue
Jay raps about becoming a father for the first time. There’s also some dubbing in of Notorious B.I.G.’s voice. It’s not bad.
The music doesn’t really fit the theme of the track, or Jay’s lyrics, IMO. This is supposed to be some kinda diss-track, I think.
16/Nickels And Dimes
A very strong track to close out the album. One of my favorites. Again, sounds like classic Jay Z.
While it has a some stand-outs, not of the songs really impress me the way the singles from Blueprint 3 did. There’s no Death of Autotune, Run This Town, or Young Forever on this album. And Jay Z’s language, I dunno. Maybe I’m getting old, although I’m not as old as HE is, but Jay’s repetitive use of the word “nigga” in many of the songs just sounds fake now. It’s like, Jay, you’re a grown man, a multimillionaire who hangs out with some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, from Warren Buffet to Barack Obama, and you’re married to Beyoncé. Stop trying to sound like some boy from the hood.
Overall, it’s a decent album, but not as good as I expected from a rapper of Jay Z’s caliber.
Magna Carta…Holy Grail is available via ITUNES