Co-written by Christina Croucher & Carlos Kinley-Boyd
Released July 8th, 2013 - Universal
Jay Z's twelfth studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail is sure not to disappoint waiting fans. This solid album keeps you listening or at the least gripped to the beat for the full 16 tracks. It's a group effort, featuring Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Nas, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and Rick Ross.
Track one. Every album has its radio song and this is it. Although, the catchy tune led by Timberlake links deeper lyrical content if listened closely. Lines like "Can't even take my daughter for a walk'' and "Haters in the paper'' exposes Jay-Z's downsides of being in the limelight. Good and bad though, this entrepreneur continues to shine. ‘Holy Grail' opens the album with a contrast from his older content of searching for success. Jay- Z is reaping the ups and downs of his wishes come true. Jay-Z keeps the majority of his lyrical content current to his life at present. In between the offbeat of ‘Picasso Baby'he indulges shamelessly about what he's earned, what he owns and who hangs on his arm.
‘Tom Ford' is the get the party started song, all I can imagine is a tight jeaned chaos ‘getting low in the club'. Jay-Z gets punchy with Rick Ross in 'FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt' and to contrast, comes ‘Oceans.' Under the surface of the pretty melody, Frank Ocean and Jay-Z dive deep into the topic of racism.
I love Jay-Z's attack on describing the path to success in ‘F.U.T.W'. "I feel like mothafuckin Cassious Clay right now- genius! '' He talks of being on top of the world while reminding us of his climb. "Martin had a dream'' he refers to past figures and politics resulting in big impact. This is a powerful one and Jay-Z's trademark pauses between phrases gets you believing every word he's saying. Under a crude title is a very inspirational song.
‘Somewhere In America' could not be better placed than in the middle of this album. It's a refreshment break with colourful trumpet charm and piano riffs. I am instrumentally transferred to the second half of Magna Carta Holy Grail.
The stand out beat drop in the album belongs to the distorted ‘Crown' and the beats continue to stay volume worthy. Even non-fans will be keeping this album on loud.
The unmistakable breathiness of Beyoncé opens up ‘Part 2 (On The Run)' and showing us they can still harmonise together, the musical power couple takes us back to 2003 and kick off from where they started with ‘Bonnie and Clyde.' Beyoncé also contributes her fair share alongside Justin Timberlake, Nas & Swizz Beatz, produced by Pharrell and Timbaland on the up-tempo ‘BBC'. This hip-hop choir busts out another great party track on the album.
"I wanna love you back, I love you back, the group of my fam.'' Jay-Z appropriately samples family in ‘La Familia' and talks about the integrity of holding strong to your family through the bad times. Jay-Z states his place, ‘'Niggas wanna kidnap wifey, good luck with that brah.''
I have to make a note of the clever structure of this album. The balance of tempos, depths and content keeps you moving and prevents boredom and repetitiveness. ‘Nickels and Dimes' is the last song. It's a thoughtful beauty and cools us down like a stretch after a long run. It is threaded with chords pleasantly recognisable to Cyndi Lauper's ‘Time After Time'. "Tween beauty and beast I walk the line;'' referring again to his life living in the maze between the light and the dark of success in the limelight. Jay-Z speaks humbly of where he came from and giving back to those that are still back "there".
Jay-Z certainly shows us he can indulge on his present while staying strongly linked to the roots of his past. In the midst of supporting Brooklyn Nets at the playoffs, owning a clothing label, guarding a family from the vultures of fame and placing massive talents like J. Cole on the rap wall of fame, this powerful producer has made another great album of his own. With lyrics made for inspiring rappers head phones, catchy melodies for car rides and beats to keep parties alive this album is a one size fits well - almost all.
4 / 5