I spent the entirety of my June full of anticipation for the biggest releases of the year (so far). All three – Yeezus, Watching Movies With The Sound Off, and Born Sinner – offered unique and exciting sounds to listeners and impressed audiences around the world. Somehow, some way, Hova himself managed to sneak in a small announcement about an album that basically no one saw coming. One day, we were all talking about how insane Kanye is for Yeezus, and the next: Jay-Z is dropping promo videos for Magna Carta…Holy Grail. Now that the moment is finally here, let’s see what the album had to offer to the world of hip-hop.
This is where MCHG really sets itself apart from other albums in 2013. The beats on this project are absolutely insane. But what else can you expect when names like Pharrell, Timbaland, Rick Rubin, and Swizz Beatz are contributing air-tight production on an album? Right from the start with “Holy Grail” to the end with “Nickels and Dimes,” MCHG slams you with intense drums and keys. More than anything, this project is rocking in your ears and getting your head nodding. Honestly – I need to see a chiropractor because my neck is completely busted after listening to this album all the way through multiple times. Standouts include: “Tom Ford,” “Holy Grail,” “Somewhereinamerica,” and “Crown.”
Now, before you grab your pitchforks and start hunting me down, hear me out on this. Jay-Z is 43 years old; if you’re expecting to hear the same hunger from Reasonable Doubt or the early Blueprint entries, you should prepare yourself for some disappointment. At this point in his career, Jay has pretty much everything a young rapper strives for: multi-million dollar businesses, money pouring in from endorsements, unfettered respect from every member of the game. Where he is now, Hova doesn’t have a lot of depth to rap about beyond his family. It comes out in MCHG, where he delivers some of the most basic rhymes in rap. Maybe I need to go over the lyrics some more, but his lack of creativity is saved by the production on the album. Without it, this album would’ve been forgotten as quickly as everyone forgot Samsung still made phones.
Despite the overall lack of lyrical prowess, the songs themselves are still great. Jay-Z is similar to Method Man, where they flow so smoothly over songs that they could rap about investment strategies and it would sound amazing. But MCHG does have moments where Jay sounds a little out of place. “Holy Grail” (my favorite track) and “Picasso Baby” stick out in my mind as examples. “Grail” should really have been on The 20/20 Experience because Justin Timberlake owns it. However, songs like “F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit,” “Oceans,” “Part II (On The Run),” and “Heaven” are awesome songs from Jay. But he really needs to not mention Miley Cyrus ever again. Seriously – she doesn’t deserve to be mentioned by Hova.
Jay-Z has always been one of my favorite rappers of all-time. He’s one of the few “older” guys that can still separate himself from the new bloods in the game. While Magna Carta…Holy Grail isn’t Reasonable Doubt or the Black Album, it certainly isn’t a letdown. Yes, his rhymes are generic on the album, but the production and songs alone makes this a very enjoyable album. It’s weird to say but I wish he had trimmed the fat a little and cut the number of songs down to 12, but that’s just one man’s opinion. Let me know your thoughts below!