Jay-Z ’s lyrical infamy really didn’t depend on Magna Carta Holy Grail despite what the critics might have to say.
So let me cut to the chase, the multi-million dollar man, who has everything including the “baddest bitch” in the business, delivered not quite the expected…
But in all honesty, what did we really expect? Were you actually duped by the elaborate marketing strategy? And then again, isn’t that the point?
MCHG isn’t a bad album. It just isn’t that great either.
For me, having fell in love with 2007′s American Gangster , I was kind of hoping for similar joy in listening to MCHG , but never quite got there. It’s like that first high that you’ll never feel again.
However, based on his savvy business deal with Samsung clearly this album was about capitalizing on Jay-Z the brand and in today’s society, great advertising is paramount in endorsing any brand.
As consumers we do have the power to decide whether we’re going to be gullible and fall for the hype surrounding a product or sit back, watch the hype and then make our own calculated decision.
I think it safe to say the mogul is at a point in his personal and professional life where this “rap game” is now a hobby.
He has accomplished the unthinkable and strategically conquered the industry.
So for those of you, who were waiting for a “big boom” from Mr Carter, I think you missed it.
Magna Carta Holy Grail — “there’s an app for that.”
Hence making him more of the “magna” millionaire.
In the age of technology Jay’s focus was not to do something lyrically and musically awesome (he’s already done that several times), but to monopolize and capitalize on the frenzy of our society.
This was all about his “Rap App;” that’s it.
The man is a capitalist. His Magna Carta lifestyle; embodying the symbol of the phrase, he takes on a King like form of existence writing his own script on life and attaining his Holy Grail, which in my opinion reflects the materialism of his world.
Not at all phantom, Jay-Z is literally on top of the world.
MCHG symbolizes the euphoria of his wealth and success; from where he came to where he is. It may at times seems surreal to him but he embellishes in the ecstasy of it all.
Where MCHG Shines
The album kicks off with “Holy Grail” and the soulful sound of Justin Timberlake whose voice, mixed in with the piano, definitely set the pace and tone.
However, of the set, two tracks have garnered my enchantment: “Oceans,” featuring Frank Ocean , and “F.U.T.W.”
Both draw me in with their in-your-face lyrics and originality.
“Oceans,” agitates the “water” stirring up emotions and controversy by darting between the era of middle passage torture and modern day triumph.
It creates the ultimate euphoria playing on the irony, while also paying homage to Black ancestors lost centuries ago.
“Docked on the Ivory Coast / This water drowned my family / this water makes my blood / this water tells my story”
“F.U.T.W.” begins with “Just let me be great…” and instantly, I relate. If you have ever felt oppressed in your life, you know what I am talking about.
With its liberating tone and killer beat, it’s the kind of track that makes you want to push yourself beyond and find happiness with the greatness within.
“Don’t be good my nigga, be great / after that government cheese we eating Steak”
The lyrics challenge you to be the greatest you. Malcom X did it; Casius Clay did it; Jay-Z did it and you can too.
“See most of my niggas died early twenties or late teens / I’m just trying to come from under the thumb of this regime/ 1% of a billion is more then niggas even seen”
While his flow is on point on all the tracks, the exceptional production by the likes of Timberland and Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon advance this album.
It ranges from a smooth jazzy vibe on “Somewhere In America,” to the driving baseline on “Tom Ford,” to the paranoia stellar sound on “Picasso Baby,” to the smooth darting beat on “Part II,” another fave, which features Beyoncé .
Seemingly a follow-up to “Bonnie & Clyde, ” it’s the kind of song that motivates me to keep holding my man down.
“Crown,” I must say, has that Yeezus flavor to it though I’m not by any means comparing the two albums. The track boasts production from 16-year-old WondaGurl , who samples from Jamaican dancehall artist Sizzla Kolanji .
There were a couple of misses on the album like “BBC,” featuring Nas, Beyoncé, Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, Justin Timberlake , and Timberland (I hope I didn’t forget anyone).
Overcrowded and muddled, the beat is good but I lost interest with all that was going on in the background.
Of the 16 songs on the album, most consist of Jay immodestly talking about his wealth and success, complaining about fame, cognizant and addressing ongoing feuds and his critics, losing his religion, reaching into his tortured fatherless childhood, and proclaiming something greater for his daughter.
Ultimately, MCHG is not Jay’s greatest. There are some outstanding moments and some moments forever lost in translation but he invited you into a journey of his world… and you took it.