Review: Magna Carta… Holy Grail by Jay-Z

Magna Carta... Holy Grail by Jay-Z “We need to write the new rules.” This is one of Jay-Z’s boldest statements in his promotion video for his twelfth studio album, Magna Carta… Holy Grail. True enough, Jay-Z wrote the new rules in a marketing stroke of genius, selling a million albums before any physical or digital copy of his new record was made, through a partnership with Samsung. Okay, enough of the intro. Let’s get into the album itself. “Holy Grail” is a perfect opening to a Jay-Z album. Make no mistake, this is typical Jay-Z. The beats are fresh, strong and innovative, thanks to top-notch producers like Swizz Beats and Timbaland; the combination of instruments is superb; and his skills add value to the beats. There are a lot of strong tracks like “BBC”, “Part II” and “Heaven”. The album is good. Very good. However, I won’t put it above Nas’ Life is Good or J. Cole’s Born Sinner – not yet. Some of the songs are acquired tastes and need a few more listens. I never second-guessed Life is Good; my immediate reaction was “holy shit, what an album”. Ditto with Born Sinner. I’m not saying it’s bad, because holy shit, I’ve really waited for HOVA’s next album and this is what I was looking for. It was worth all the hype and marketing. He gave life to his bold statement. However, there are other hip-hop albums that are higher in my Hip-Hop Albums Pantheon. [JS]4/5

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