Pretty much anticipated, but I feel something is definitely missing. First listen, so let's go with this review.
So apparently, Jay-Z collaborated for a bigger exclusive, his twelfth studio album. And who knew? Nobody! So was this a surprise for fans? Well, we'll get to that, but there's something I might want to clarify as well. This is Jay-Z, not some tier 2 rapper with ungraded sales, so count into effect as well. This album is pretty metaphorical, so it's going to take some depth to understand. Which rapping album isn't?
So let's dive straight into the opening track, Holy Grail featuring the back-to-class Justin Timberlake. This song gets me sideways with it, but I still say it's a good song, but not as impact as you'd do with an opening track. Surely, there could be better points, but the importance of it was enough. It served the purpose, and Justin's vocals lends efficiency, transforming the track brutally and beautifully simultaneously. The verses were highly commendable, speaking of MC Hammer's fame, his, Blue Ivy, and others, while Timberlake sobs over the girl which threw a blade and left him bleeding. It was a stand-out track no doubt. What's next? Picasso Baby. The track itself offers much on the beats, showcasing incredible vile in the offing, only to slow down with a much unneeded hook that displayed the random affection than anything else. The track also states, 'no sympathy for the king, huh?', as the verses drive head-on, never ending with a collision nor a scar. Tom Ford comes next, the electronic-bass heavy track surmounts a heavy mountain, but never enjoys a succession. Pretty much an okay track, Jay-Z repeats 'Tom Ford' over and over, the repetition's not only the problem, but the dose of usage of mighty metaphors that caves in the track, not making full use of the whole as well. Has this been harsh for a Jay-Z fan to watch? Then let's pick out my favourites.
Oceans featuring Frank Ocean easily bests them all, with the other being the Holy Grail. Oceans displays a meaningful and concise hook from Frank, while Jay-Z tells a story through his verses, one of the tracks which you really need to listen close to understand and feel through. To quote, 'silk and fleeces; lay on my Jesus; Oh my God; I hope y'all don't get seasick'. Somewhere in America is probably my favourite, and man is this track 80's-esque and slick. This song pretty much owns the album, 2 minutes of insane craziness, and man this track tops my favourites so far. Also, even a Miley Cyrus twerkin' reference, which seems undoubted due to her We Can't Stop video. Lastly, I have to just shout out BBC because Nas is on it, and he isn't featured (WHAT!). He even gave a ref to Pharrell, 'Pharell's a pharaoh, peep the features'. Then, there's the fun insane hook by Nas, Timbaland, Jay and Pharrell and this track is just damn crazy. Pretty much just hyped but this song is creatively awesome, also featuring Japanese/Chinese words as well.
But to be perfectly honest, other than these high-profile production tracks, there really isn't as much about the over-hyped album. It doesn't seem rushed, but when you listen to it, half of it does feel rushed. The songs, the verses, the hooks, the beats, grizzly yet still normal, making what Jay-Z does perfect tilt the saw, but still remain perfectly stilled. All of this is what Jay's good at, and none of it says anything else, so that's blood for blood. Some songs really shouldn't be on it, but repetitive excess of it such as Crown and Heaven, FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt and F.U.T.W. Some production issues, others were featured artists but mostly none of the writing was affected, but it still flawed occasionally. Others such as Jay-Z Blue and La Familia seems to be overheard over a million times, making them almost just snobby fillers, although it doesn't seem so when it concerns Blue Ivy, Jay and Beyonce's daughter.
6.5/10 - Magna Carta... Holy Grail would be much better if there was better production and more access to materials, which seems to be Jay's best line of work when he does his writing. Some of the tracks sound bleak, but this is highly unlikely for Jay, who pretty much is a rapping living legend. Yet, these tracks don't sound wack, but they could still be better. In a nutshell, Jay-Z's limitations makes this album much more of a stark contrast to his previous work, and is worth listening if some of the tracks are really just great. However, it doesn't seem so.
When is Eminem's eighth album coming out? Till' then, I will see you again.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.