Jay Z is one of, if not, the most dominant figure in rap. The guy is well-known, has an impressive catalog, and is one of the richest people in hip-hop. All eyes have been on him for years, and for the first time in four years he’s released a solo album. And just that easily, he takes over the rap game again. But is the music on point? Does this have four years of quality? Let’s observe.
The standout feature to MCHG is its production. Songs like “Tom Ford”, “Holy Grail”, “Beach is Better”, among the mass majority of the rest of the album is gonna get just about anybody’s head bobbing.
Dude has Timbaland, No ID, Hit Boy, Mike D, Mike Will, Pharell,.. basically most of the most popular hip-hop producers of now and throughout time. The songs all sound crisp and well-mastered. Some execution problems here and there like the obnoxious and overly pressed samples in “Jay-Z Blue” (even though I love that song) and the trap simplicity in the song with the longest one word title ever. Some of the beats just sounded incomplete also, whether in duration or in sound. Everyone knows the former (namely “Beach is Better”), but a good example of the latter is “Oceans” which just seemed to drone out for a long time with no strong climactic point. Which could also be an issue with song structure as well, but I digress. Plus I just can’t get into that accent that Frank is using. Does he always do that? (I’m not the biggest R&B fan)
Song structure could’ve used work on this album, though. Jay didn’t really have a strong presence on the album at all. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought “Part II” was Beyonce’s song featuring Jay Z. That doesn’t take away from the song, but with the consistent lack in presence on this album really gives the impression of a rushed and uncherished project (at least in the hands in Jay Z, but Timbaland had his foot allllll up in dis joint). I mean, even in “Tom Ford” where it’s just him, he’s not rapping all that much, just two miniscule verses and a super long hook. That song’s the jam though, but you know… can’t take it seriously.
“I don’t pop molly I rock Tom Ford”
“I don’t eat cherries I watch TV”
His lyrics kinda have ups and downs. On one hand, you have highly creative concepts like “Oceans”, and on the other you have lame lines like, “you ain’t ready yo, you radio.”
And more to that list is “Holy Grail” which is easily one of the best tracks on the album hands down. There he explains all the duality of having issues with being famous and the simultaneous love of it. I’m not gonna be redundant with my points, like this album was with “being rich” though. Jay is still hella clever though, throughout the whole thing.
“Soon as I step out the booth, the cameras pop
*** is cool with it, til’ the canons pop”
Amongst many others. Concepts like “Heaven” and “Oceans” are smart and unique. His lyrics drip tons of deft charisma like how he fits in a Buggati, and the line where he slickly fits in the obvious that he’s married to one of the most beautiful women in showbiz, but it was still tight the way he did it.
Flow is more or less the same as the lyrics. You get a ton of moments where Jay Z is just “uh, uh, uh, uh” and they he’s using these super-basic cadence patterns like the portion he borrowed from the less-talented Rick Ross and the one in “La Familia” that he eventually turns up to get you excited for a lul bit.
Magna Carta … Holy Grail is a taste of what Jay has to offer. He still has it, and it feels like he’s coming out like “yeah I still got this rap game ish in check.” Dude shows peeks of how talented he is, but at the same time sort of cheapens himself occasionally or just kinda sticks his name into a nice beat. The album has a couple of deep potholes artistically, but it is overall enjoyable.
Album Grade: C+