#1 Edited by Blu3V3nom07 (4222 posts) -

I'm loving this album. The beats, the features, the flow. Its just straight-dope. Don't knock til you try it.

Its better than Blueprint 3, so that's neat. And its starts off strong with Justin Timberlake in the first 2 seconds.

Right now, my favorite is "Heaven"

Magna Carta Holy Grail

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#2 Edited by ottoman673 (521 posts) -

Heaven is an amazing track.

Kind of like fuckwithmeigotit too, even though i'm not a huge rick ross fan. Need some more time for the rest of the album.

#3 Posted by Redbullet685 (6047 posts) -

Did not like it. I don't care for Jay Z's rapping so that is why. I gotta give it to him, though, the beats and overall production is great.

#4 Edited by benpicko (2010 posts) -

Still trying to work out how Yeezus has been better received than this

Also, how The Blueprint 3 was better received than this because that was just... ugh

#5 Posted by Hector (3365 posts) -

Pretty solid album my favorite so far is Tom Ford. I think it's way better than Kanye's Yeezus.

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#6 Posted by joshthebear (2700 posts) -

I'm not digging it at all, and it kind of feels like he went with the safest album possible. There are some solid tracks for sure, but overall it's pretty meh.

#7 Posted by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

On the first track right now... Is this Hip Hop? Or just a fantasy?

#8 Posted by Jaytow (695 posts) -

What a stupid name for a rap album.

#9 Posted by smokingdeck (25 posts) -

Not trolling or anything at that (or atleast not trying to) but I think he's starting to get a little full of himself with some of these titles, when he's music really isn't something to call home about (just my taste, Im sure a lot of the music I listen to will be hated by others)

I know, I know "But he has so much money, so he must be hurr durr hurr."

Guess it just comes down to personal preference.

#10 Posted by JouselDelka (966 posts) -

BBC stands out because Nas.

#11 Edited by The_Grindilow (432 posts) -

I didn't like it much, but not a big fan of Jay Z anyway. I think Yeezus is a piece of art though, but it's all subjective anyway!

Still, nothing has come close to Kendrick for me yet, although I liked that Chance the Rapper EP.

#12 Posted by Sploder (917 posts) -

I really like the production but the album is mostly average. I really like fuckwithmeyouknowigotit though.

#13 Posted by Cheesebob (1240 posts) -

An album that is carried by its amazing production and occasional great feature. Jay Z is super boring throughout

#14 Posted by EuanDewar (4974 posts) -

I think it's aight. I still think Jay does the "i came up from the streets, look how much i got now" thing just about as well as anyone else out there but this is a very safe album. Not to say it's not enjoyable, just not all that special. The way its been marketed says a lot about it.

#15 Posted by Barrock (3540 posts) -

Run the Jewels.

#16 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

I guess I'm one of the few people here who loved Yeezus? Anyway, haven't gotten a chance to listen to this album yet but I'll get to it eventually.

#17 Posted by rand0mZer00 (241 posts) -

Twerk, Miley, Miley, Miley, twerk.

#18 Edited by PeasantAbuse (5138 posts) -

Crown and Heaven are the only good songs.

Holy Grail and BBC are so god damn awful.

#19 Posted by DougCL (214 posts) -

wack, and i consider myself an enormous Jay fan.

#20 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7099 posts) -

It feels extremely generic and standard. He plays it safe throughout. Yeezus, despite my initial feelings on that album (it really grew on me), is a far more interesting album.

@guided_by_tigers said:

I guess I'm one of the few people here who loved Yeezus? Anyway, haven't gotten a chance to listen to this album yet but I'll get to it eventually.

I think, if others are like me, it's an album that confused the hell out of a lot of people at first. But man, it gets so much better the more you listen to it. Still really weird but entertainingly so.

#21 Edited by DougCL (214 posts) -

Yeezus is a pretty incredible album. its not his best lyrically, but 'Ye is clearly in a really creative mindset right now and the production and beats on that album are astounding. the Frank Ocean bit on the end of New Slaves had me freaking out in my car the first time i heard it.

#22 Posted by HubrisRanger (489 posts) -

I think the distinction between Yeezus and MCHG is that Yeezus is a pretty clear rejection of the corporate expectations upon him, where as the latter is definitely Jay-Z leaning back and trying to make a broader, commercial album; the Samsung deal is getting the most press, but it's endemic of the larger identity HOVA has been building for a while now. Ironically, both albums deal with a lot of the same topics: dealing with the pressures of public perception, fatherhood and how to recognize the struggle of less fortunate African-Americans. I think on the whole Yeezus represents an artist who is anxious and paranoid, where as MCHG represents someone who sees his success as a model for others to strive for. That's kinda been Jay-Z's perspective for a while now.

As far as the merits of the album itself: it's SUPREMELY weird. Lots of track, seemingly half-finished tracks that pack a pretty big punch, a heavy emphasis on rather rich production and a pre-occupation with both rejecting and embracing white America. Oddly, I think it's best moments are all packed together in it's center: Oceans to Versus is a pretty impressive string of songs, but everything before and after feels predictable and easy. The Jigga-man at leisure; I doubt he'll ever be as hungry as he is on the first Blueprint or as focused as he is on the Black Album. But Jay-Z on his worst day is at the very least an interesting listen. Or as he would put it: "Your last shit ain't better than my first; your best shit ain't better than my worst shit."

#23 Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG (4308 posts) -

I didnt like the album. Im consider myself a Jay Z fan but for some reason this album didnt click for me. Its starting to grow on me though.

#24 Posted by HubrisRanger (489 posts) -

Oh, also one final note: the fact that BBC is pretty obviously cast-offs from Blurred Lines is really weird and disappointing.

#25 Edited by Aquablak (196 posts) -

I'm a huge Jay-Z fan since Reasonable Doubt (which is among my favorite albums, if not my all time favorite), and I am incredibly disappointed in MCHG. It just sounds so freaking lazy. I've got mad respect for the sheer volume of greatness in Jay's catalogue, but I'm not sure I'm even going to purchase MCHG. I don't want to encourage him phoning it in. He's so much better than this.

Eagerly looking forward to Pusha T's "My Name is My Name"....

#26 Posted by wjb (1666 posts) -

I like the cover art.

#27 Edited by chrissedoff (2116 posts) -

The beats were mostly boring and I think Jay-Z has run out of interesting things to say. I feel like he was trying to compete with Kanye West with the grandiose title and the unusual hype campaign of the record. But while Yeezus sounded like the work of somebody who's still hungry, and artistically adventurous enough to still be trying to break the mold, Magna Carta Holy Grail sounds like the work of a rapper who's self-assured and complacent, rapping about his fabulous life with all his fancy things and sounding as bored by it all as he probably is in real life. Since all of Jay's best work in recent years has been in complementing other artists on their tracks, this album had to be way better than it is if he wanted to persuade people that he's still the king of hip hop. Instead, he's just marketed the album like it's a major event and put in a half-hearted effort in the studio.

#28 Posted by Nodima (1226 posts) -

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/173334-jay-z-magna-carta-holy-grail/

[b]Magna Carta... Holy Grail[/b] (Produced by Timbaland & Jerome Harmon unless noted) [ROC Nation 2013]

[i]1|Holy Grail (feat. [Artist5427])|5:38[/i] (Produced by Timbaland, The-Dream, Jerome Harmon & No I.D.) [b]3 - 3.5[/b]

[i]2|Picasso Baby|4:05[/i] [b]3.25 - 4[/b]

[i]3|Tom Ford|3:09[/i] [b]3 - 3.5[/b]

[i]4|FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt (feat. [Artist132204])|4:03[/i] (Produced by Boi-1da, Vinylz, Timbaland & Jerome Harmon) [b]3 - 3.25[/b]

[i]5|Oceans (feat. [Artist679747])|3:58[/i] (Produced by Pharrell & Timbaland) [b]3.75 - 4[/b]

[i]6|F.U.T.W.|4:02[/i] [b]4 - 4.25[/b]

[i]7|Somewhere in America|2:28[/i] (Produced by Hit-Boy & Mike Dean) [b]4[/b]

[i]8|Crown|4:33[/i] (Produced by Travi$ Scott & Mike Dean) [b]4[/b]

[i]9|Heaven|4:03[/i] [b]3.5 - 4[/b]

[i]10|Versus|0:51[/i] (Produced by Timbaland & Swizz Beatz) [b]4[/b]

[i]11|Part II (On the Run) (feat. [Artist16821])|5:33[/i] [b]3.5 - 4[/b]

[i]12|Beach Is Better|0:55[/i] (Produced by Mike Will & Marz) [b]4 - 4.5[/b]

[i]13|BBC|3:12[/i] (Produced by Pharrell) [b]3 - 3.25[/b]

[i]14|Jay Z Blue|3:50[/i] (Produced by Timbaland, Jerome Harmon & Justin Timberlake) [b]4[/b]

[i]15|La Familia|3:33[/i] [b]3 - 3.75[/b]

Jay-Z as Chief Keef.

[i]16|Nickels and Dimes|5:03[/i] (Produced by Hip Hop & Mike Dean) [b]2.5 - 3[/b]

[i]Overall[/i]: 58 - 58.5 [b]3.64/5[/b] 73%: Impressive; well above average; TRY IT

[i]Magna Carta... Holy Grail[/i] isn't going to stop being divisive any time soon. That much I think we can say with certainty. Opinions on just about every moment on this record appear up for grabs, in part thanks to a engagingly distracting marketing plan involving Samsung and #newrules. One of the #newrules #TeamHov seemed to overlook in this increasingly bizarre release strategy is that, by cutting a majority of one's rabid fanbase out of the zeitgeist moment, you invite a torrenting typhoon. [http://torrentfreak.com/jay-zs-exclusive-album-release-triggers-a-piracy-bonanza-130705/,Torrent Freak] reported record-breaking transfer rates for the album, which Jay-Z's team may have been abe to spin positively if not for the fact pirating out of a phone app led to all kinds of audio artifacting and general lossy files misbehavior.

For many, this album will probably always be defined by that sepia-toned version of the record, which is a shame because in its full splendor [i]Magna Carta...Holy Grail[/i] actually serves quote a few of the masters folks have been complaining Jay's uninterested in since the release of [i]Blueprint 3[/i]. He makes some very odd choices subject matter-wise, and it's undeniable that there are verses on here (that we'll get to a little later) that just...end, Jay's newly-energetic bounce (reminiscent of his [i]Volume 2 / Volume 3[/i] period) dramatically petering out long before the bridge or chorus comes around and the artiste embarrassingly self-satisfied with mediocre language. But there are other moments where Jay is so candid and honest about the way he feels about the dichotomous way his present relates to his past...

For example, the final verse on "Picasso Baby". It's a little wandering, and doesn't even feel all that true in terms of how police officers respond to Jay's presence, but his paranoia over the way anonymous citizens disparage his daughter is very real, as is his disappointment in the ways people keep telling him to hang up his headphones just because he's on the wrong end of 40. One could also point to the way Jay-Z closes "Crown", another paranoia-ridden track about his trepidation towards success, and see Jay mining similar territory as the conscious-vs-material arguments scattered throughout 2004's [i]The Black Album[/i].

The problem is that, much like [i]Yeezus[/i], a finely captivating performance and some of the cleanest, more interesting production of the year is marred by some of the most vain vocals a hip-hop listener can expect to hear. Jay will stumble upon lovely little moments of language ("Boat dock in front of Hermes picking cotton" ; "See me in shit you never saw / If it wasn't for these pictures you wouldn't see me at all," "Oceans") but against the entirety of a verse with useless cocaine references and glanced-at allusions to the Middle Passage and juxtaposing Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" against July 4th, the Samsung phone release date of the album, they are just moments of coincidence. At every turn you can hear hints of Jay-Z's slight discomfort over having become a brand, a consumable for the public to chew up and spit out. It's just, Lamborghinis and Basquiats keep getting in the way, and who is any modern human being to blame another for succumbing to distraction, he asks.

There's really no shame in Jay-Z rapping about the life he's been describing ever since "comeback" record [i]Kingdom Come[/i]. I don't particularly care that I can't relate to "going ape at the auction" or "blue bloods...trying to clown on me"; the issue with [i]Magna Carta...Holy Grail[/i] lies in a lack of subtlety best exemplified by the opening track, the Justin Timberlake dominated "Holy Grail". Tucked into the middle of the song is an exceptionally engaging Jay-Z moment complete with a super funky breakdown near the end Jay wastes on stringing a series of "niggas" together as rhyme like his protegé, J. Cole. But for most of it's five and a half minutes, we've got Justin Timberlake wandering around, warbling about some woman neither of these men are dealing with (unless we're to believe Jessica Biel and Beyoncé are some kind of succubi) in the dark.

What makes coming to a conclusion about [i]Magna Carta...Holy Grail[/i] distressing is that despite all of these complaints, for 58 minutes I'm finding it hard to argue there are much more [i]entertaining[/i] albums out there this year. Jay-Z's on his C-game a lot of the time here as far as the words, but in terms of presence and performance it's hard to find a more engaged Jay-Z at any point in the post-Young Chris era. Hearing him awkwardly repurpose early-90s indie rock in an effort to prove he's not just talking shit in interviews is goofy but I've got to enjoy that about this Jay-Z, a 43-year old half-a-billionaire singing Nirvana lyrics earnestly on an album only money could buy. His attempts to mine memes out of his subjects, such as "Somewhere in America"'s "twerk Miley, Miley twerk" coda, are almost always clumsy but his conviction in them is always admirable.

In the end, [i]Magna Carta...Holy Grail[/i] has to be a disappointment if only because Timbaland (with Jerome Harmon's helping hand) handling most of the music here and that [i]not[/i] resulting in a chasm of god-awful pop-tart garbage is tantamount to any number of small miracles, and yet Jay-Z rewards that effort with his least-concentrated set of lyrics maybe ever. But the album doesn't seem as though it will be able to exist on those terms; it's instead being measured by the amount of times we can refer to Jay-Z's many corporate sponsorships and 1%er business opportunities, in all the ways we can find to praise what Jay-Z represents to the pop world while belittling all that he does with that power. [i]Magna Carta...Holy Grail[/i] lacks the year-defining singles that made [i]Blueprint 3[/i] evade "flop" status, but it's undeniably the most cohesive thing Jay's been a part of since the original [i]Blueprint[/i].

At 43-years old, Jay-Z's made an exceptionally contemporary hip-hop album that succeeds on every leg but the one Jay's always most readily admitted he struggles standing on for long periods of time. As a fun, interesting summer solstice I believe the guy's done his job, and honest to God Jay-Z fans shouldn't have much to be worried about with this release. It's the folks that hide behind Samsung as an excuse to dislike #MCHG, rather than blame Jay-Z directly as a rapper, that fear this album and vice versa. It's fun to throw unironic quotes around his infamous, "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man" one-liner and wax poetic about what that means for his art, but let's not forget there's actually an album here that Jay-Z clearly had a concrete vision and excitement for, or that hip-hop royalty in 2013 encompasses a fair amount more than on-paper lyricism.

The fact of the matter is, Jay-Z probably just can't carry an entire album anymore if you're a lyrics head. But Jay was always custom built for a world where beats take precedence over rhymes - one could argue he's the most influential artist in birthing that formula - and [i]Magna Carta[/i] is that quite explicitly. I'm willing to be fine with that.

#29 Edited by gaminghooligan (1448 posts) -

Beats were great. Lyrics reminded me of why I don't go to the radio for good rap anymore.

#30 Edited by ItBeStefYo (1020 posts) -

Jay Z's beginning and end was the song "Big Pimpin" fuck everything else including jay z himself