Saturday, July 13, 2013

Magna Carta... Holy Grail: The New Era of Hip Hop

When Jay Z's Samsung commercial first aired, it announced the release of his newest album and 12th solo album, Magna Carta... Holy Grail, available for Galaxy owners exclusively on July 4th and then for the general public on July 8th. It took me some time to listen to this album and not judge it too prematurely, but I've finally come to a consensus. This album has an all star production team with Pharrell, Hit-Boy, Swiss Beats, Timbaland, The-Dream and No ID just to name a few. With that kind of team behind you, it is no surprise that the production is absolutely incredible and also the highlight of the album. Jay does have flow and certain tracks do bump, but lyrically it is nowhere near the caliber I expect from him.

"Somewhereinamerica" is my favorite track and his bars are lethal. 
Might crash ya Internet
And I ain't even into that
When I was talking Instagram
Last thing you wanted was your picture snapped
Feds still lurking
They see I'm still putting work in
Cause somewhere in America
Miley Cyrus is still twerkin'

Other highlights of the album are "Tom Ford." The beat is sick and it's definitely a song to rock to, but it doesn't even sound like he's trying. A few years ago Jay would of demolished a beat like this. Frank Ocean kills the vocals on "Oceans" and Hov has a great line on the track: "On the holiday, playing 'Strange Fruit'/ If I'm-a make it to a billi, I can't take the same route." The rest of his verses are so mediocre. Whether it's bragging about famous artwork in his crib or the stress of the paparazzi, there isn't much that hasn't already been said. It could be lack of inspiration or simply the fact that he has been putting music out since 1996, but either way this album lacks his normal creativity.

I listened to his classic albums (Reasonable Doubt, Blueprint 1, The Black Album & American Gangster) in preparation for Magna Carta to drop and more than this just being a sub par album, it is the marking of a new era in Hip Hop. During Reasonable Doubt and Ill-matic days MCs bodied tracks with minimal features and fairly simple production. Nowadays albums are filled with features, solo tracks are rare and the beats are superior. Although I am loving the mastery of production, I'm missing the revolutionary verses. Jay Z has already established himself as a legend in the game and an incredibly successful business man, but this album feels more like a gimmick and a power trip than Jay actually wanting to put out real art. I love and respect Jay Z, but I'm not giving him a pass just because he's Jay Z. He made unbelievable music, but it's just not real anymore.

The absence of Kanye on Magna Carta as well as the absence of Jay on Yeezus had some people asking questions. Perhaps Watch The Throne 2 is the near future...

No comments:

Post a Comment